statesman news service
Ahmedabad, 27 October
A historical building in the city where Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore had penned his now famous ‘Hungry Stones’ (Kshudito Paashaan) more than a century ago, is now in the centre of a controversy.
But, the Bard has nothing to do with the controversy as it is between Union Minister of State for Mines Dinsha Patel and Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the latter&’s alleged refusal to pay a penny for the renovation of the building now turned into the Sardar Patel National Memorial.
Young Tagore had stayed in a small room in this Shahibaug Mahal, built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a summer resort on the eastern bank of the river Sabarmati, in 1878, when his his elder brother Satyendranath Tagore was Judge and Collector in the city.
After independence, this massive building remained the Governor&’s residence till 1978 when the then Chief Minister Babubhai Patel handed it over to the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Society for turning it into a national monument to the ‘Iron Man’ who had unified over 500 princely states into the Indian republic.
But the Shahibuag Mahal remained in a dilapidated condition till 2010 when the Centre sanctioned Rs 17 crore for its complete renovation and setting up a national museum depicting the life and times of Sardar Patel.
On the eve of the renovated memorial&’s inauguration by the Prime Minister on Tuesday (29 Oct), Union Minister of State for Mines Dinsha Patel has alleged that despite repeated requests every now and then, the Gujarat chief minister has not paid a penny for the memorial museum of the ‘Iron Man’.
Mr Patel also disclosed that the BJP government headed by Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had given only a corpus fund of Rs 60 lakh which was not to be spent but the interests from it were to be used for maintenance of the massive structure.
The Union Minister also questioned Mr Modi&’s plans to erect a 182-metre high Sardar Patel&’s statue on an island in the river Narmada with pieces of used iron collected from all over India. Mr Patel said that he has been told by eminent sculptors that such huge statues cannot be constructed with iron pieces.
To be called the ‘Statue of Unity’, it is slated to be twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty off New York coast in the USA. But Mr Modi&’s idea of unity has already sparked off sprinklers of disunity as villagers in the vicinity have refused to part with their land for a project that would ultimately turn out to be a recreation destination for affluents from urban areas.