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Chaitra Navratri

Statue politics: Karnataka BJP reaches out to masses of all hues


BENGALURU: Ahead of assembly elections in Karnataka, the BJP government led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is on a statue unveiling spree. In the past few months, the CM has unveiled at least 15 statues in various districts. Bommai also seems to be in a hurry to unveil more statues before the model code of conduct kicks in. 

In March alone, he will be unveiling at least seven statues. Each statue represents a certain caste or region, and it appears to be Bommai’s attempt to reach out to various communities. While some people and his own party leaders welcomed it, others slammed him for “utilising government funds” for statues.

Terming it the ‘Statue of Prosperity’, the government in November unveiled a 108-ft figure of Nadaprabhu Kempegowda at Kempegowda International Airport in Devanahalli. The actual unveiling was done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bommai. In the same month, Bommai unveiled a 6.5-ft statue of Goddess Bhuvaneshwari at Kannada Sahitya Parishath in Chamarajapet in Bengaluru. 

Other statues he unveiled include a 33-ft Lord Parashurama idol in Udupi, a 12-ft statue of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, freedom fighter Kedambadi Ramaiah Gowda’s 22-ft figure in Mangaluru, a 36-ft statue of Shivaji in Belagavi, Rajkumar’s statue in Mahalakshmi Layout and many more. A few more are in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, Bommai also announced the installation of Subhash Chandra Bose and Sangolli Rayanna’s statues in government colleges across the state. The Vidhana Soudha premises is now peopled by sculptures of Dr BR Ambedkar, Kengal Hanumanthaiah, Mahatma Gandhi and other greats. 

In fact, when BS Yediyurappa was chief minister, the cabinet had approved of Basavanna’s statue at Vidhana Soudha, but it did not materialise. On Kempegowda Jayanti last year, Bommai announced that a Kempegowda statue would be installed. Both statues will be unveiled on March 23 by Bommai. 

According to political analysts, the unveiling of statues during the poll season is a time-tested method to gain votes. One analyst told TNIE that statues are not just symbols, but have historical connections too. “Through statues, political leaders are trying to erase old memories and create new memories. For instance, Congress had named roads, airports and schemes after one family. BJP is creating a narrative of its ideology through statues and textbooks. People see these statues/names frequently, and are inclined to vote for them,” he said. 

He pointed out that there are people who oppose this and stress unemployment and poverty. “But statues can penetrate people’s minds and become an emotional issue,” he added. 

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Rs 5 crore will be released for the development of Allama Prabhu’s birthplace. He also promised Rs 10 crore for a post-graduate building of the women’s university and said Shivanapada will be fully developed at Rs 10 crore. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

392 Days ago