India has Statues of Celebrity, Duality and of course, Gandhi’s Statues of Ubiquity

If it is the world’s tallest statue of one of Indian republic’s greatest leaders, and promoted by its most powerful contemporary one, it will, of course, receive a lot of public attention. But unless you are the Nizam of Hyderabad or some other reluctant prince who had to be, er, strongly persuaded to accede to the Indian Union, you won’t be opposed to a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

You might, however, be either amused or dismayed by the BJP’s appropriation of Patel and his misprojection as an anti-thesis of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The great leaders of India’s independence movement did not operate in the small-minded manner as the current ones do — they certainly had differences of opinion, but were for the most part respectful of each other in public. Patel and Nehru had different backgrounds, worldviews and temperaments, but did not allow their differences to descend into the low politics of rumour and squabble. If Patel united the territory of India, Nehru united its people, and together with the other stalwarts of that generation created this great republic.

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