(UPI) -- A statue honoring the 138th birthday of India’s first Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, will be nearly 600 feet tall, about twice the size of the Statue of Liberty.
The statue is being built on the river Narmada in Gujarat, Patel’s home state. Once completed, the monument will be the world’s tallest statue.
Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi is backing the project, and some see the move as a politically motivated attempt to publicize a figure largely associated with India’s independence.
Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were sharply criticized by Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari earlier this week about the statue.
“On 9/11/1948, Sardar Patel wrote a letter to Golwalkarji. And, in that letter, he said that the communal poison which had been spread by the RSS was responsible for the sacrifice of Gandhiji,” Tewari said. “As a student of political history, it has always intrigued me that the RSS, BJP has been attempting unsuccessfully to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel.”
“I wanted to ask the BJP or their newly-anointed pretender that do they endorse, or agree with the views of Sardar Patel with regard to the RSS. If not, as the chief minister of Gujarat and possibly as the ‘Swayamsevak’ within history bears testimony to the fact that those who do not have a history of their own, try to appropriate the history of others.”