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Statues In India: Why Are They So Much Part Of Politics?

We are never far from statue politics in a country that reveres its icons so much that there cannot be a town without a clutch of statues, ranging from nation builders to sporting champions. The latest salvo against a statue comes from the husband of Mary Kom, six-time World Women’s boxing champion and an Olympic bronze medallist. Onler Karong says the statue in Imphal’s Olympic Park does not resemble his wife, Mary. Be that as it may, there was more trouble in the capital of statues, which is Chennai in Tamil Nadu when a statue of Indira Gandhi had to be moved out of the pedestal to make way for six-laning of the Chennai-Bangalore highway at Sriperumbudur, a spot not far from where her son Rajiv Gandhi was cruelly decimated by a body belt bomber from Sri Lanka who came straight out of a Frederick Forsyth novel. TN’s Congressmen were upset that an iconic statue to which Rajiv had paid homage before going to the public meeting at which he was assassinated on May 21, 1991 was being shifted. They would not let the highways department move the statue but then relented in a public cause of highway expansion. They moved the statue themselves to the entrance of the Rajiv Gandhi memorial so mother and son could be remembered as victims of political assassinations. Finally, who can forget Mayawati for erecting statues of herself when she was UP’s chief minister (2007-12).