For iron to build Sardar Patel statue, Modi goes to farmers


AS the head of the BJP election campaign committee, Narendra Modi is set to canvass for more than votes in the coming months. He is also seeking iron.

The Gujarat chief minister is building the "tallest statue in the world" for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and his men will be launching a countrywide campaign with farmers soon to collect iron from their farming tools for it. With Modi's ambitions shooting skyward, the statue will keep in step: for one, the designated height is 182 metres, the number of assembly seats in Gujarat; secondly, it is called the "Statue of Unity", for the man credited with bringing in princely states to ensure India was a stable country; thirdly, it honours a leader from Gujarat on whom Modi openly models himself, and who is seen by some as having been unfairly denied prime ministership.

By getting farmers involved in this "biggest ever project on any tribal land", he believes, he can establish a valuable emotional connect. Nearly 5,000 tonnes of steel will be needed for the Rs-2,000-crore project, titled "Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat". Videos are already circulating on the Net showing how it will be twice the height of New York's Statue of Liberty and five times that of Christ the Redeemer at Rio de Janeiro.

The Gujarat government, with the help of NGOs and village committees, will mobilise farmers to donate the iron pieces, which will be transported via post, or buses and trains.

"Collection will be done at the district headquarters, from where iron pieces will go to regional centres. There will be around four such centres. Modi himself is likely to be present at these regional centres," said a government source.

Modi first announced the project on October 7, 2010, at a press conference to mark the beginning of his 10th year as CM. However, since his elevation to a national role, both the statue and the project have got a revamp.

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