Why is ‘liberal’ ecosystem so disturbed by the Statue of Unity?

I sense some guilt and some shame on the part of Indian liberals. Which is a good beginning for them? Meanwhile, as Narendra Modi proves himself to be the bigger man, Indian liberals are looking like they are less than an inch tall.

Why is the liberal ecosystem in such a foul mood over the inauguration of the Statue of Unity as a tribute to Sardar Patel on his birth anniversary?

Take, for example, this tweet from an eminent historian:

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Or this, which made me burst out laughing.

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They actually found that four members of Patel’s family *contested* Lok Sabha elections! Oh no! Let me know how many of them went on to become Congress President, Prime Minister of India and self-crowned Bharat Ratnas riding purely on the strength of their last name.

Why this sudden need among liberals to tear down Sardar Patel, one of the tallest leaders in the Congress pantheon?

Are Congress sycophants worried that a 182-meter tall statue of Patel could damage the monotheistic cult of the Nehru-Gandhi clan that the Congress has transformed itself into?

Even more pathetic are the repeated references to the fact that Sardar Patel played a key role in putting a ban on the RSS. Like this, for instance.

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What is the point that is being made here? The Sangh Parivar has never hidden its ideological differences and a long history of political disagreement with the Congress Party to which Sardar Patel belonged.

And yet, Narendra Modi has not let political bitterness come in the way of recognizing Sardar Patel and his contributions to the nation.

Ask the Americans. Does anyone care any more which political party Lincoln or Roosevelt belonged to?

Why is the Indian liberal stuck in the swamp of pettiness, reminding the Sangh Parivar of unpleasantness between two rival political parties 70 years ago? Why are Indian liberals feeling so insecure?

Or is it that the mere mention of the word “unity” is making liberals uncomfortable? Does it remind liberals of which family was the No. 1 beneficiary of the Partition of India?

Today the liberal ecosystem speaks of dividing India with every breath they take. Some make it official with their “Bharat ke tukde” slogans. In Haryana, they are about inciting Jats. In Maharashtra, they are about inciting the Marathas against the Dalits and then the Dalits against the Marathas. A few months ago, the Congress Chief Minister of Karnataka referred to India’s Prime Minister as a “North Indian import.”

In Sardar Patel’s Gujarat, the liberal today speaks the language of ethnic hatred against a poor labourer from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. When at all the liberal mentions Sardar Patel, it is to incite members of Sardar’s own caste, the Patidars, against everyone else. Then the liberal goes to town distributing “I am Patidar” caps, encouraging young people to walk around with their caste written on their heads.

To such people, the name “Statue of Unity” is likely to be anathema.

Then, there are “arguments” against the statue that are such junk that it becomes harder to imagine good faith on part of the editor who allowed them to be published. Take this:

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The “argument”? That the Taj Mahal earns Rs 25 crore of tourist revenue per year. So how long would it take for a 3000 crore Statue of Unity to pay for itself?

Seriously? Is that how you count the economic value created by the Taj Mahal?  You don’t just add the ticket sales for the monument; you count the entire impact of lakhs of tourists from India and abroad coming and spending in Agra each year. Are you saying that the world famous Taj Mahal brings only Rs 25 crore into the city’s economy every year? What about every travel company that runs tours to Agra, every hotel where the tourists stay and all the people who work for them? Would these have existed without the Taj Mahal?

But such junk arguments are being allowed to enter the discourse and disseminated by so-called news websites.

Speaking of expensive statues and whether they bring economic value, remember when Mayawati built statues of herself with public money all around Lucknow?

Don’t forget that the Congress-led UPA was supported in Parliament by the Bahujan Samaj Party all through the ten years that Dr Singh was Prime Minister. Wonder what Rahul Gandhi thinks of that?

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Brace yourselves, folks. So if the Opposition gets its way in 2019 elections, it could very well be that the next Prime Minister of India will be unveiling statues of herself all over the country.

The liberals would rather have that than Narendra Modi inaugurating a statue of Sardar Patel.

I sense some guilt and some shame on the part of Indian liberals. Which is a good beginning for them? Meanwhile, as Narendra Modi proves himself to be the bigger man, Indian liberals are looking like they are less than an inch tall.

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

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