PM keen on prominence to Modi in invite

The Sardar Patel Memorial Trust, which is getting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Narendra Modi share the dais on October 29 to inaugurate a museum dedicated to the Iron Man of India, has asserted that the present State regime has not contributed anything to the setting up of the memorial.

Days before Mr. Modi lays the foundation stone on October 31 for a 597-foot Sardar Patel statue that is billed to be taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York and the largest structure in the world, the Sardar Patel Memorial Trust, chaired by Union Minister Dinsha Patel, indicated that the previous BJP government of Keshubhai Patel had contributed to the setting up of and running the Sardar memorial here.

Mr. Modi and the BJP have consistently maintained at public meetings and at various platforms that the Congress deliberately glossed over the commitment and nationalism of Sardar Patel in favour of the Nehru legacy.

Mr. Patel, who singlehandedly created the grandiose Sardar Patel memorial, spread over some 37,000 square metres of land in the city’s Shahibaug area in a building that once housed the Raj Bhavan with the Centre’s generous help, said Mr. Keshubhai Patel sanctioned Rs. 1.5 crore for the Sardar Trust with the condition that the amount would go into a corpus and “we had the right only to use the interest from it” for upkeep of the memorial.

“As the first instalment, we got Rs. 60 lakh from this and Rs. 24 lakh a little later. But we fulfilled the commitment and the amount is still in the corpus,” he said, adding that most of the contribution came from the Centre and public charity.

However, Mr. Patel insisted that the inaugural function has no politics attached to it. “I sent the invite to the Chief Minister and even spoke to him over the phone. He willingly agreed to come. On the other hand, it was the magnanimity of the Prime Minister that he insisted that the State’s Chief Minister be there and that his name should be prominent on the invite. Not only this, Manmohan Singh ji called me at Nadiad (Sardar Patel’s home town) and ensured that the Chief Minister’s name was on the invitation card. And when I went to Delhi with the invite, the Prime Minister first wanted to see the card to ensure that the mukhiya of the State is there. He said I am the Prime Minister and in the same way a Chief Minister is the head,” Mr. Patel said.