Statue of Unity inauguration: Tribals call bandh on October 31, BJP to launch ‘Ekta Yatra’

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New Delhi | Updated: Oct 28, 2018 1:07 PM

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat will launch 'Ekta Yatra' on October 31 to spread awareness about country's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's valuable contribution in uniting India.

Statue of Unity inaugurationStatue of Unity inauguration: Tribals call bandh on October 31, BJP to launch ‘Ekta Yatra’

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat will launch ‘Ekta Yatra’ on October 31 to spread awareness about country’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s valuable contribution in uniting India. According to a report in Hindustan Times, people from 5,000 villages are expected to attend the state government’s yatra on October 31, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to his home state to unveil the ‘Statue of Unity’.

It also said that local tribal organisations have called a day-long bandh on October 31. Tribals and Patels have accused the PM of misusing Patel’s legacy to score political mileage in the run-up to the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The shutdown will be observed by about 72 villages in 9 tribal districts — from Umargon in south Gujarat to Ambaji in the north.

Also Read: Statue of Unity also a tribute to Indian engineering skills, says Larsen & Toubro

“On October 31, lakhs of tribals will march towards the statue to protest. The villages will observe a bandh and the natives will not cook. The name of Sardar Patel has been misused to collect votes,’’ the HT report quoted Praful Vasava, a tribal leader, as saying.

The report said that locals are unhappy with being relocated. They even claimed that a Rs 2,500 crore statue has no meaning in a district lacking basic amenities.

Praful added that a letter has also been sent to the descendants of Sardar Patel to join the bandh call.

He claimed that thousands of trees were cut to build a four-lane road between Vadodara and Kevadiya. Praful said that many tribals were displaced by the government in order to construct the Garudeshwar weir and other amenities in the region.

However, the government has debunked his claim. Narmada district collector R Ninama said that the government has initiated the process for land allotment. Also, a financial package of Rs 7.5 lakh per hectare is in place in case the affected person doesn’t want land in exchange.

“Families will also get a plot to construct a home and Rs 5 lakh compensation,” Ninama said.

Meanwhile, the BJP has termed the development a conspiracy by the Congress to hurt Gujarati pride.

“Congress is behind all this… tribals are with us,’’ BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said,

The Congress, on its part, rejected the charge and alleged that the BJP government has failed in delivering its promises to all communities.

“On issues ranging from education to employment, tribals are unhappy,’’ Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.

The October 31 event to unveil the statue of Sardar Patel by PM Modi is seen as the BJP virtually kicking off its campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Prime Minister will unveil the world’s tallest statue to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel at Sadhu Bet near Narmada Dam.

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