NEW DELHI (TIP): BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s claim that UPA had forgotten Sardar Patel till this year is far off the mark. The government’s publicity arm, directorate of advertising and visual publicity (DAVP), has spent Rs 8.5 crore in advertisements to commemorate Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary over the last four years. Ironically, the shoe may be on the other foot.
In its tenure — between 1999 and 2004 — the NDA government did not issue advertisements for Patel for two years in a row (2001 and 2002). “On earlier birth anniversaries of Sardar Patel, no advertisements were seen. Today, newspapers across the country have advertisements on Sardar Saheb … this is the Gujarat effect,” Modi said on Thursday speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of 182-metre tall “Statue of Unity” of Patel at Kevadia in Gujarat.
However, DAVP records show that UPA spent Rs 30 lakh in 2009-10, Rs 4.10 crore (2010-11), Rs 2.7 crore (2011- 12) and Rs 1.4 crore (2012-13). When asked about Modi’s allegations, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said, “It is evident that the newly-anointed prime ministerial candidate of the BJP doesn’t allow fact to come in the way of myth-making.”
UPA missed issuing an advertisement in 2008, which Tewari said could be due to the severe economic recession that year. However, the amount spent on Patel by the UPA is much lower than the amount spent every year on the Nehru-Gandhi family’s birth and death anniversaries. DAVP spent about Rs 33 crore on birth and death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Rs 21 crore for former PM Rajiv Gandhi, Rs 14.5 crore for Indira Gandhi and Rs 9.38 crore for Jawaharlal Nehru in print advertisements.
When asked about the difference in ad spends Tewari said, “This should not be looked at from the prism of advertising spends because the cost can depend on various factors like the size of the advertisements or costs that year. The real point of inflection is consistency of effort which shows our commitment as opposed to those who pay lip-service and are trying to appropriate the legacy of a leader without even reading it.”
MODI AIMS AT HISTORY AND GANDHIS WITH WORLD’S TALLEST STATUE
NEW DELHI (TIP): Narendra Modi launched the construction of the world’s tallest statue on October 31, a $338 million project in honour of one of the country’s founding fathers, that he is using to undermine the ruling Nehru- Gandhi political family. The statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s deputy and his interior minister, but often at odds with him, is to be built on a river island in Gujarat, the home state of both Patel and Modi.
It will be built in four years and will be twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. “The world will be forced to look at India when this statue stands tall,” said Modi, who rules Gujarat as chief minister and is the leading opposition candidate for prime minister in general elections due by next May.
His main rival in the election is the ruling Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi, Nehru’s greatgrandson. Thursday marked the 138th birth anniversary of Patel, and Modi said earlier this week: “Every Indian regrets Sardar Patel did not become the first prime minister. Had he been the first prime minister, the country’s fate and face would have been completely different.”
The comments, and the project, are seen as a not-so-subtle bid by Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to appropriate an independenceera hero associated with Congress, a party largely run by the Nehru-Gandhi family. Members of the family have ruled India for more than half the 66 years since it became an independent nation.