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Tallest Gandhi awaits debut

- 40-feet statue to come up in Patna on Martyrs’ Day

Patna, Dec. 3: Come January 30, Mahatma Gandhi will stand taller in Patna than any of his statues across the world.

A 40-feet statue of Gandhiji, with a 26-feet pedestal, will come up at the Gandhi Maidan, from where the non-violent leader gave a clarion call for the Quit India movement.

Ram V. Sutar, the 1999 Padma Shri awardee sculptor, sounded ecstatic as he was busy giving finishing touches to the 25-tonne bronze statue. “It was my dream to make the tallest Gandhi statue in the world and I have achieved my dream at such an advanced age of 88 years. It was never an easy job to complete this task but I have finally done it,” the sculptor told The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi where the Rs 9-crore statue is being built.

“I started work on the statue in February and now it is almost over. Till now, the 16-feet Gandhi statue in meditating pose at Parliament is the tallest in India,” said the octogenarian sculptor who made his first Gandhi statue when he was just 24 — the year Gandhi was assassinated.

Last year, chief minister Nitish Kumar had announced to install a Gandhi statue at Gandhi Maidan and officials started a search for the sculptor. Nitish had first seen a model of the statue and Sutar started on the project after the chief minister’s nod.

Gandhi Maidan already has a 12-feet statue of the “Father of the Nation” that Lalu Prasad inaugurated on May 6, 1995. Sources said the new statue might replace the old one after it is unveiled on Martyrs’ Day next year.

After making 120 statues of Gandhiji, the veteran artist thinks this one would be his finest. “I have given all my efforts to create the statue. Though I have also made statues of eminent personalities, statues of Gandhiji are always closest to my heart,” said Sutar, who hails from Gondur village in Dhulia district of Maharashtra.

About the statue’s features, the Sir JJ College of Architecture, Mumbai, alumnus said: “Gandhiji is standing with two children — a boy and a girl — in his arms. The girl is holding a flower in her right hand and the boy has folded his left leg. At the bottom of the statue, Gandhi’s famous quote ‘Mera jeevan hi mera sandesh’ has also been carved.”

Sutar, who has created around 200 statues, also made his mark in foreign countries.

Statues of Gandhiji made by him are installed in several countries, including US, South Africa, Russia, Japan, England, Italy and Malaysia. “This statue of Gandhiji will give the message of peace and love while its pose teaches us to treat everyone equally,” said Sutar. “The four sides of the pedestal also have murals of Champaran Satyagraha, Kranti Divas, Dandi March and Charkha.”

This would not be the first statue by Sutar for the residents of Patna, as he displayed his art with the lifesize statue of first Prime Minister of Mauritius Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam near Gandhi Maidan and the state’s first deputy chief minister, A.N. Sinha, at AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies.

Noted Gandhian and Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Patna, secretary Razi Ahmad and art, culture and youth affairs department secretary Chanchal Kumar had recently visited Delhi to see the ongoing work. Razi had suggested Sutar’s name to make the statue. “Once the statue is installed at Gandhi Maidan, it will change the landscape. The statue will look towards the southeast facing St Xavier’s High School. This is the place where prarthana (prayers) used to take place when Mahatma Gandhi was in Patna.”

According to Razi, the Mahatma first visited Patna on April 10, 1917, and his last visit was six days before Independence — August 9, 1947. During one of his visits to Patna, the prarthana used to take place at the Maidan itself.

Maidan story

Patna commissioner Metcalfe developed the huge open ground in the heart of the city between 1813 and 1833

Government report of 1812 does not mention the ground but its reference can be found in one of the reports of 1824

Initially known as Bankipore Maidan or Doranda Singh Maidan, named after owner of the land

Some documents suggest the name could also be the Race Course and the Oval l

Later, it came to be known as the Lawn

After Gandhiji’s death, it was renamed as Gandhi Maidan