statesman news service
Puri, 16 July
Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP campaign committee Chairman Narendra Modi called upon the people across the country to contribute “a fist full of iron” for the construction of a grand statue of Sardar Patel, who had united India through the merger of states. The Congress has forgotten Patel, he said
The plan ~ which reminded of a similar mobilisation of bricks for the Ram Temple ~ is to construct a statue symbolising India’s unity. It will be double the size of the Statue of Liberty and it will be a national monument, signifying the strength and unity of India and will be located at the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Mr Modi, who had come on a "personal and religious visit" to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath, deviated from his schedule and addressed the state unit leaders after his visit to the temple and meetings with Puri Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deo, as well as Sankaracharya of Puri Gobardhan Peeth Swami Nischilananda Saraswati.
He left for Nagpur to meet RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat in the evening and carried prasad from the temple with him.
Though Mr Modi had spelt out his plan of constructing a statue at the national executive of the BJP in Goa, he had not publicly elaborated on his scheme of calling for contributions from across the country.
Earlier, in his brief statement to the Press outside the Puri Jagannath Temple, Mr Modi, deliberately speaking in Odia, lauded the contribution of Odias in the development of Gujarat. Every tehsil and district of Gujarat has an Odia population which has worked hard for the progress of the state, he said.
Starting his speech with “Bande Utkal Janani” and “Jai Jagannath”, Mr Modi said Odisha and Gujarat are linked in many ways ~ if the first ray of the Sun falls on Konark, its last setting ray is in Modera, he said.
Mr Modi asked party leaders to connect with people by voicing their concerns and issues. “Go to the villages, hold meetings and dharnas,” he said.
Significantly, he asked the state unit leaders to capitalise on the anti-incumbency factor in Odisha.
Without naming Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, he said, there was space for the BJP in terms of the growing disenchantment in Odisha.
The national campaign committee chief also asked party men to use the social networking sites, be it Twitter or Facebook, etc., to rake up issues and campaign.
He refrained from talking about alliances and sought a feedback on public opinion about the UPA, as well as the BJP. State BJP leaders promptly said the public was in favour of Modiji.
Earlier, Mr Modi arrived to a rousing reception at Bhubaneswar Airport.
He paid his respects to the “pancha sakha” ( five legendary freedom fighters) at Sakhigopal en route Puri. At Puri, he first visited the Gundicha Temple. From there he went to the Puri Jagannath temple.