Modi to unveil world’s largest statue in India’s Gujarat state as election nears

Modi to unveil world’s largest statue in India’s Gujarat state as election nears

Today, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a $410 million statue of leading independence figure Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in

statue of unity india

Photo: Ajit Solanki/AP

Today, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a $410 million statue of leading independence figure Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

The 182-metre Statue of Unity has become associated with the prime minister’s Hindu-Nationalist BJP. The appropriation of such an historical figure by the BJP, which leads the national government, has sparked the ire of opposition leaders.

The political spat over the statue signals the start of campaigning towards the 2019 general election, where nine rounds of voting must be completed by no later than June 3, 2019. Modi’s governing bloc is still favoured to maintain power, but cracks are starting to appear in the government’s four years of dominance.

Rural wages have weakened due to persistently high inflation and unfavourable dry spells. Agriculture accounts for 55% of India’s employees—a significant voting bloc of over 230 million. The cost of the statue will likely continue to annoy farmers, who say the government has not done enough to assist them. Whether this sentiment translates to electoral pain for Modi will be better known on December 11, when five state elections, four of which are ruled by the BJB, will be held.

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