BJP mascot Narendra Modi soon hopes to have an iron grip on Bihar. His Hunkar rally of October will flag off an iron collection drive, meant to build a statue of the original Iron Man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, in Gujarat.
The iron chain is supposed to connect Bihar and Gujarat. But strategically, the focus of this collection drive is on Nalanda, the native district of chief minister Nitish Kumar.
A senior BJP leader said by invoking Patel, the party expected to mobilise the support of Kurmis, who consider him as one of their own. “Also, by trying to rally Kurmis in the name of Sardar Patel, the BJP expects to dilute their support for Nitish,” he added.
The BJP leadership has directed its panchayat units to collect used iron tools – sickles, hoes and hedge clippers – from farmers. Even at a recent rally in Nalanda, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi urged the locals to donate iron. Each panchayat unit had been directed to collect 250 gm of iron.
The chief minister, however, laughed off the BJP move. “Nalanda is famous for compassion, not iron. They should collect iron from Jharkhand, which is better known for iron ore mines,” he said.
Bihar BJP chief spokesman Vinod Narayan Jha accused Kumar of politicising the issue. “Modi’s vision is to make the statue of unity a source of inspiration. It would be a gift not only to the people of Gujarat but the nation,” he said.
Called ‘Statue of Unity’, the project is to come up at Sadhu Bet, an island 3 km away from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. With a proposed height of 182 meters, it would be double the size of the Statue of Liberty in the US.