The Statue of Unity is a “befitting tribute” to the ‘Iron Man of India’ for his priceless contribution to the country, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s family members on Wednesday said, adding that the “Congress didn’t do anything like this” for the great leader.
“Congress didn’t do anything like this for Sardar Patel. The statue is a befitting tribute to his contribution to the nation,” said 91-year-old Dhirubhai Patel, grandson of Sardar’s elder brother Somabhai Patel, according to a PTI report.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Statue of Unity in honour of Sardar Patel in Gujarat on the occasion of the leader’s 143rd birth anniversary.
Besides Dhirubhai, the event was attended by 35 other members of Vallabhbhai Patel’s extended family.
Sardar Patel, the first Home Minister of Independent India, is credited with merging 550 princely states into the Union of India. He had used force to annex princely states of Junagadh ruled by Nawab and Hyderabad ruled by Nizam, both of whom had wished not to merge their respective states with Union of India.
Bhupendra Patel, another senior member of the family, said the statue would inspire the younger generation.
“They will draw inspiration from Sardar Patel,” said 80-year-old Bhupendra, who lives in Vallabh Vidyanagar in Anand district.
“This (statue) was long overdue. They should have done it much earlier. The statue will spread the message of the strength of unity and of the role played by Sardar to unite the nation,” Dhirubhai’s son-in-law Shailesh Patel, a Mumbai-based businessman, said.
Sardar Patel Memorial Trust’s founder-secretary Hasmukh Patel, who was also among the special invitees at the event, said it was a “good decision” to build the Sardar statue.
“The younger generation needs to learn from Sardar’s life and this statue will be a unique way to do so,” he said, adding that the prime minister has “recaptured Sardar’s memory in a unique way”.
The statue of Sardar Patel is 182-metre high and is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US and taller than the 153-metre Spring Temple Buddha in China. It is installed in Gujarat’s Kevadia.
(With inputs from agencies)