India inaugurates world's tallest statue to celebrate independence hero

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Addressing a function at the district Congress committee office here, the Congress leader said there was no such very big statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the country. "We are made to feel as if we have committed a serious crime", he said.

India inaugurated the world's tallest statue on Wednesday with fireworks, folk dances and floral tributes, deploying tight security amid an outcry by local groups over the soaring cost of the 182-metre (600-feet) sculpture of an independence hero.

"The biggest one is in Parliament". Sardar Patel - nicknamed, appropriately, "Iron Man" - helped unify India's 500-odd princely states after independence. A viewing gallery has been created at a height of 135 metres inside the statue to enable tourists to have a view of the dam and nearby mountain ranges.

Modi described the statue as "an answer to all those who question the existence of India".

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Mayawati said that Sardar Patel had a following all over the country and was respected by people cutting across caste and community, but dragging him into regional politics shows the "narrow-mindedness" of BJP leaders.

The BJP says Congress has deliberately ignored leaders such as Patel, B.R. Ambedkar, who led the drafting of the constitution, and freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose.

The Patel statue could, however, soon be topped by the 212-metre Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial commemorating a 17th-century Indian warrior king, which is set to open in Mumbai in 2021.

Patel led the Indian National Congress which forged the Indian movement for independence, following World War II when the party put pressure on the British government to pass an independence bill in July 1947.

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"All those in the BJP, the RSS and company need to apologise, especially to the people of the Bahujan Samaj Party, for terming the statues installed by the then BSP government to honour icons like Baba Saheb Ambedkar and others as wasteful expenditure", she said in a statement released in Lucknow.

Something like Rs. 2,989 crore was spent on building the statue.

But around the statue in a remote corner of Gujarat state, more than 5,000 police guarded the huge site where construction work has taken almost four years to complete the megaproject.

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