I am not from BJP and in spite of that, I think the idea of a Sardar Patel statue is a monumental idea.
1. A monument stands for an idea and in this country ravaged by caste, religion and regional differences all pulling for their own benefit – Sardar Patel, who united 562 princely states to make a united country is an inspiration and needs to be honored.
2. For a country with a central budget of 21.47 lakh crore rupees, spending 600 crore over 3 years and for a state like Gujarat (annual budget 1,81,945 crores), to spend 2412 crores (0.45% of its annual budget p.a) over 3 years for a monument that will last over a century and inspire millions is truly worth it.
3. Selecting the picturesque Narmada district as the location of the statue was a well-thought strategy. Remember Narmada (as per Niti Ayog) and the surrounding are the poorest districts in Gujarat with Narmada (72.45% poor), Dahod (71.75%), Dang(70.14%), Panchmahal (50.72%) housing some of the worst affected people. The forests and the poor quality of cultivable lands make agriculture income very difficult.
4. Already Gujarat government has allocated Rs 13,278 crores (budget 16-17) for tribal development, primarily for these areas. Some of the methods of poverty alleviation suggested for these locations is setting up tourism infrastructure, incentivizing consumption of forestry products and improving prices of crops that grow better in low-productivity areas (some coarse grains or pulses for example). Spending 850 crore per year that can transform lives of 8 million people using tourism does not seem too much.
5. The total expenditure involves the statue, a research centre for agriculture, water management and tribal development, a museum, AV gallery and conversion of the area to meet tourism traffic. A 3 star hotel, tent stay villages, high speed roads and connectivity have been already made and will help in speeding development of the region.
6. Like the statue of Liberty or the Brazil statue of Christ or even the Vivekananda rocks – this will bring much needed exposure to tourists and start employment and businesses, reducing poverty.
While there were very smart moves made politically to upstage the Nehru dynasty and gain political mileage by appropriating Sardar Patel as a BJP leader etc, for me– making life better for the poor by using tourism money is the biggest gain.
Its not that there are no schools and colleges and hospitals in these tribal areas (I have been there personally), but livelihood source is badly needed.
All-in-all it’s a smart decision. Killing multiple birds with one stone.