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After Padmavati row, Rani Padmini’s statue to come up in Rajasthan

The Udaipur municipal corporation had floated the idea of installing statues of nine heroes from Mewar at traffic intersections – each 9-feet-high with a 4-feet-high pedestal and a weight of 1,300 kg.

jaipur Updated: Dec 19, 2017 23:50 IST
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Padmavati,Rani Padmini,Bollywood film Padmavati
Members of India's Rajput community shout slogans as they protest against the release of Bollywood film Padmavati in Hyderabad.(AP)

With assembly elections due next year, the Rajasthan government is set to install a nine-feet-high statue of Rajput queen Padmini in Udaipur, weeks after violent protests stalled the release of a Bollywood film on the subject.

The statue of Padmini, or Padmavati, will show the queen performing Jauhar, a Rajput practice of self-immolation by women to avoid dishonour at the hands of enemies, Udaipur mayor Chandra Singh told Hindustan Times.

Padmini’s statue will be put up along with other heroes and freedom fighters – from the Rajput, Other Backward Class and tribal communities -- who hail from the Mewar region that plays a decisive role in assembly elections.

“The contract for the statues has been given to a firm in Jaipur and the statues will be ready in 3 months,” said Singh.

The state has been roiled by waves of protest by caste groups such as the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, who issued death threats to the actors and director of Bollywood film Padmavati, forcing the producers to defer its release. The protesters say the film dishonours the queen by depicting romance between Padmavati and 14th century Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji.

The filmmakers have denied all charges while historians are divided over whether Padmavati ever existed.

A year ago, the Udaipur municipal corporation had floated the idea of installing nine heroes and freedom fighters from Mewar at traffic intersections – each nine-feet-high with a four feet high pedestal and a weight of 1,300 kg. The total cost of each statue is Rs1 crore, he added.

Sources said after the public outcry over the film Padmavati, state home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, who belongs to Udaipur, has asked for the work to be speeded up.

“We want to honour Mewar’s heroes…the contract was given a year ago. But work got delayed due to a court case against the installation of the statues. Six months were wasted in the legal battle which we finally won,” Singh told Hindustan Times.

The statues commissioned were of Padmini, Rana Sanga, Rana Kumbha, Bappa Rawal, Rana Hamir, Raj Singh – all rulers of Mewar – two freedom fighters from the OBC community, Vjay Singh Pathik and Kesari Singh Bareth, and tribal leader and freedom fighter Gobind Guru.

The Mewar region covers the districts of Udaipur, Rajsamand, Chittorgarh, Pratapgarh, Banswara and Dungarpur – with a total of 35 assembly seats. In the 2013 assembly polls that the BJP won, the saffron party won 32 seats and the Congress just three. In the 2008 elections that the Congress won, the party won 24 while the BJP won 9. Two were won by other parties.

With assembly elections due in Rajasthan next year, the statues could be a bid to woo the Rajput, OBC and tribal communities.

Chief minister Vasundhara Raje wrote to Union information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani in November, saying Padmavati should not be released in Rajasthan without necessary changes to respect the sentiments of any community.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 20:29 IST