Coimbatore: Gujarat minister of state for home Rajanibhai S Patel on Friday there was no political or election stunt behind construction of a 182-metre tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the banks of river Narmada.
"There is no political or election stunt behind this. It is aimed to represent the towering personality of `Iron Man` Sardar Patel to the world so as every citizen of India can feel proud," he told reporters.
He was replying to a specific question on the need for the statue at this juncture when the Lok Sabha elections are to be held in May next year.
Patel said the project was conceptualised three to four years ago, but came to the final stage only a few months back.
To another question on Congress` criticism that Gujarat government had not thought it fit to erect a statue for Mahatma Gandhi, also hailing from that State, he said the government has constructed a Mahatma Mandir, one of the biggest convention Centres, as a fitting tribute to the Father of Nation, three years ago.
Asked if this could be a platform named `Statue of Unity` to bring all Patels, including Keshubhai Patel, to BJP`s fold, he evaded a direct reply, saying "this is a national event and anybody can come for the run for unity, starting December 15."
Patel, here to appeal to citizens to join the `statue of Unity campaign, said the statue is expected to be completed within 30 to 36 months, at a cost of Rs 2,600 crore.
DJ Pandian, Principal Secretary, Gujarat, later said Germany and France were also competing for designing, sculpting and constructing this `prestigeous` statue.