Bengaluru: Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said that the former used the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - inaugurated in Gujarat's Kevadiya - for their 'vested interests'. BJP remembering Patel was an 'election gimmick', Kharge said in Hubballi.
The Congress leader further said, "Every year BJP remembers a different freedom fighter - sometimes they remember Patel, sometimes Gandhi for Swachch Bharat Abhiyan and sometimes they remember Dr B R Ambedkar and Subhas Chandra Bose.
These are all their election stunts. They never had respect for those who fought for the freedom of India."
Kharge claimed that 15 to 20 years ago BJP offices never had photos of Sardar Patel and Bose except those of RSS leaders such as Golwalkar. It was only Congress which respected all freedom fighters, he added.
The Congress leader in the Lok Sabha said every year he paid tribute to Patel on September 17 and celebrated the occasion as liberation day for Hyderabad-Karnataka region, which was under the control of the Nizam of Hyderabad who wanted Hyderabad to be a separate nation.
"Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister while Patel was Home Minister. Naturally, credit goes to the prime minister. It is not good to project somebody to undermine somebody else," Kharge said.
His remarks came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated an imposing 182-metre (597 feet) statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat's Kevadiya. Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, has been unveiled on the occasion of the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.
Built in honour of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the giant structure has been dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The imposing monument is twice the height of Statue of Liberty and is built on an islet, Sadhu Bet, near the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada district.
The statue has been built using over 70,000 tonnes of cement, 18,500 tonnes of reinforcement steel, 6,000 tonnes of structural steel and 1,700 metric tonnes of bronze, which was used for the outer cladding of the structure, according to the government statement.
(With inputs from PTI)