Two statues of the Father of the Nation are getting differential treatment in Patna.
There’s a 22-foot-tall statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Maidan that Lalu Prasad inaugurated, when he was chief minister, on October 2, 1990. A few hundred metres away, in the north-west portion of the maidan, there is another Gandhi statue. At 79 feet, it is the tallest statue of the Father of the Nation in the world. Chief minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated the bigger statue on February 15 this year.
Both the statues are of the same man, but the similarity ends there. A peepal sapling has grown on the pedestal of the smaller statue. In the absence of any lighting, darkness envelops it and the corner where it is installed after sunset. In contrast, the statue Nitish inaugurated glitters all night long, thanks to plenty of lighting all around.
Gandhians in the city are upset at this step-motherly treatment to the old statue. Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Patna, secretary Razi Ahmad said: “The (old) statue used to be garlanded on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) for the past 22 years. Growth of a peepal sapling or any other wild plant around it shows the statue is being neglected.”
He had something good to say about the new statue. “The location of new statue of Gandhiji is quite appropriate. Mahatma Gandhi’s pratharna sabhas (prayer meetings) used to be held in front of St Xavier’s High School, from where the new statue can be seen. Gandhi visited Calcutta, Patna and Delhi many times between March 5 and August 8 in 1947, when communal riots rocked the country,” said Razi. “But, installing a new, bigger statue of Bapu does not mean the old one should be forgotten and ignored.”
With Gandhi Jayanti round the corner, Razi hopes the authorities would take corrective steps. “I hope the wild plants are removed from the old statue and it, too, is garlanded on Gandhi Jayanti,” he said.
While Patna district magistrate (DM) N. Saravana Kumar said he would look into the matter and take corrective steps, a senior official in the district administration could not say which statue the chief minister would garland this Gandhi Jayanti.
Chief ministers used to garland the old one all these years.
“We are really in a dilemma and are going to write to the state cabinet co-ordination department to take a final decision,” the official said.
The district magistrate said the state building construction department was in the process of relocating the old statue.
Told about the absence of lighting arrangement at the old statue, DM Saravana said: “We are going to instal new lamp posts across the Gandhi Maidan and the old statue would also get light.”
The state government got the Mahatma’s new, bronze statue built at Rs 10 crore. It shows the Mahatma standing with two children — a boy and a girl.
The girl is holding a flower in her right hand and the boy has folded his left leg. Gandhi’s famous quote “Mera jeevan hi mera sandesh (My life is my message)” has been carved on the pedestal.
What should be done with the old Gandhi statue? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org
Swanky challenge to tradition
Claim to fame
This is the
first Gandhi statue
to come up
at Gandhi Maidan. Chief ministers
garlanding this statue on Gandhi Jayanti for 22 years now
Claim to fame
It is the world’s largest Mahatma Gandhi statue. Its location is
appropriate as Gandhi used to hold his prayer meetings in front of St Xavier’s High School from where the new statue can be seen
Installing a new,
bigger statue of Bapu
does not mean his
old statue should be
forgotten and ignored ..............................Razi Ahmad
Sangrahalaya, Patna,Pictures by Nagendra Kumar Singh