Speaking at the foundation-laying ceremony of the statue of India’s Iron Man on his 138th birth anniversary, Narendra Modi said, “I am thankful to the PM for calling Sardar a truly secular leader. His secularism did not stop him from rebuilding the Somnath temple.” At 182 metres, the ‘Statue of Unity’ will be the world’s tallest statue.
Modi asked Singh not to limit Patel’s identity to the narrow definition of a Congress leader. Calling Patel the tallest leader of India after Chanakya for uniting the country, Modi said that although the Statue of Unity was coming up in Gujarat, it was a matter of pride for the whole of India. Modi and Singh had faced off on October 29 during the inauguration of a Sardar Patel museum after the CM had obliquely attacked the Gandhi family. He had said that the country’s fortunes would have been entirely different had Sardar been India’s first PM. At Kevadia, Modi also asked Singh not to play politics over the Sardar Sarovar dam project and grant permission for raising its height. “We will do whatever he (the PM) says,” he said.
“I don’t want any credit. He can take it all, but please give the permissions. People of Gujarat and Rajasthan need water while Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra need power.” The dam’s height is 121.92 metres at present, with approvals needed to take it to its final height of 138.68 metres.