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BJP back in memorial business

After making promises to build Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue in Gujarat and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial in the Arabian Sea, now the BJP government in Maharashtra is back to loot the taxpayers’ money by announcing to build a memorial for the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Mumbai.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla expressed her anguish to AV saying that BJP government is just pretending to mourn over Vajpayee’s death and building a memorial in his name is just for a show.

She further stated, “No one from BJP had ever remembered Vajpayee when he was alive. They could have named anything to everything earlier also, so why this dramatisation now? They should stop this drama, I strongly object to it. As this is just an attempt by BJP to sell the thought of Atal Ji’s memories for the 2019 elections.”

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday made an announcement to construct former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s memorial while paying tributes to Vajpayee at a condolence meeting held at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Nariman Point, organised by the state party. Fadnavis’s ‘shradhanjali’ embraced all praises for Atal Ji incorporating several initiatives the Vajpayee-led NDA government took. Although, the state CM proclaimed that the details will be worked out soon for the memorial.

BJP spokesperson Shivray Kulkarni said, “Building statues is not the only policy of the government, we also want to maintain the national pride and the legacy of such legends. It is our culture to preserve these memories to inspire the future generations. The  contribution of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was taken forward by late Atal Ji and we want to follow the same. Atal Bihari Vajpayee spent his entire life working for the nation and his work is unmatchable. The Maharashtra CM has a clear intention to take forward our national pride.”

However, this is not the first time that the government in the name of emotions have made the word of honour for revered figures of the nation to loot the public’s money. Earlier, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had expressed confidence over the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, but in June it came across as it will be first built in Madhya Pradesh which costs around Rs 65 lakhs through public contribution and raising a donation of Rs 25 lakhs. Looking at such uncertainty and lack of concern towards such a sensitive issue for the Hindus not only in Ayodhya but everywhere has grabbed many eyeballs as the government is seen playing with both, the sentiments of voters and taxpayers’ money. Subsequently, there have been no talks over the same.

NCP MLA Shashikant Shinde commented, “Atal Bihari Vajpayee was amongst the leader who went beyond party boundaries for the national interest and who always took decision for the country’s welfare. Every citizen does have a respect for our legendary leaders. But there are some cases where leaders opposed to build a statue while some leaders want to build a memorial of different dignitaries of the nation. Nonetheless, building a statue or memorial is not important but the implementation of the legendaries ideology is of utmost importance.”

In another similar case, Modi, prior to the general elections in 2014, had performed the groundbreaking ceremony of his dream project to build a statue of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel that was laid on October 31, 2013, coinciding with the 138th birth anniversary and announced that the iron used for the construction of this statue would be collected from the farmers of the different parts of the country. Now again with the nearing of next year’s Lok Sabha elections, the BJP government in Gujarat had insisted in February to inaugurate the 182 meter tall ‘Statue of Unity’ on October 31 that costs approximately Rs 3000 crore.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said, “Atal Ji’s contribution was of significance to the country. Hence, according to me, this is not politics behind it. If the public too contributes for such memorials it could be a good idea, as memorial may not be a separate entity, it can be served as an inspiration.”

In March this year, BJP claimed to start the work after monsoons a 210 metre tall statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji which is 3.6 km away from Girgaum Chowpatty in south Mumbai, at a cost of around Rs 3,600 crore. Later, in the last month opposition had created an uproar over the height of the statue. The BJP made the statue one of the rallying points during its campaign in the 2014 Assembly polls.

Advocate Manisha Rote, Mahila Pradesh Congress General Secretary stated, “BJP is only indulging in the vote bank politics. Since last many years, while Vajpayee was away from the politics and public life, no BJP leader remembered him. However, after his death, the BJP leaders started talking about his contribution. No doubt Vajpayee was a great leader but BJP is using his name for political purposes.”

“It’s time politics should people-centric and must be dedicated for the welfare of people. Politicians and the upcoming generation should take inspiration from Atal Ji’s vision for the nation and his inclusive politics. I do not oppose building statues as a memory of the great leaders, but helping poor must be the priority of the government,” she concluded.

Prakash Wagh, a Mulund Resident asserted, “No BJP leader had talked about Vajpayee when he was bed-ridden. But after his death, now BJP is using it as a strategy for the 2019 elections. Vajpayee was a great leader and to see such kind of politics is very saddening. For the long term, this politics will be harmful to the country.”


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