Statue-Versus-Statute: Congress Leader’s ‘Christmas Gift’ To Constituency, A 114-Feet Tall Statue Of Christ, Stirs Controversy

Statue-Versus-Statute: Congress Leader’s ‘Christmas Gift’ To Constituency, A 114-Feet Tall Statue Of Christ, Stirs ControversyD K Shivakumar (Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) 
Snapshot
  • Congress leader D K Shivakumar’s plan to build a statue of Christ in Karnataka’s Kanakapura has run into trouble.

Karnataka Congress leader and trouble-shooter D K Shivakumar is in the news yet again with the announcement of a ‘tall’ project in his constituency.

On Christmas day, the aspirant to the party’s state leadership who is currently out on bail in a money laundering case, Shivakumar laid the foundation for a 114-feet monolithic stone statue of Jesus Christ in Kanakapura.

But the project has run into a huge controversy as the land is said to be government land reserved for pasture and cattle grazing. The statue measuring 101 feet will be installed at the Kapalibetta atop a 13 feet tall pedestal and is being called a ‘thanksgiving’ by the Congress leader to the residents of the village who ‘prayed’ for his release when in jail.

Many BJP leaders immediately took to social media to condemn this ‘appeasement’ effort by the Congress leader and said any attempt to build any such statue on government land would be illegal.

But Shivakumar has called it a ‘promise’ he made to christians two years ago that he is now fulfilling, adding that he had availed all the required approvals from the government for the purpose.

“Four years ago, the Harobele Trust was registered and had taken up Kapali betta for development. DK Shivakumar is part of the trust. Since this is government land, one cannot gift it to others. We have learnt that Shivakumar gifted it to build the statue,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka was quoted as having said.

While D K Shivakumar is reported as having borne the cost of the lease that the trust has acquired, which is around Rs 10.80 lakh, the present revenue minister said the government has put the project on hold until details are availed about its acquisition.

Various leaders of the BJP have criticised Shivakumar’s action as an attempt to please the party high command as he is one of the top contenders to the party president’s post in the state and accused him of indulging in desperate vote bank politics.

The region is said to have witnessed a demographic change with the coming of labourers who had been brought here for the construction of a dam between 1980-1990, as reported. The region, which did have a sizeable Hindu population, saw a rise in the number of Christians as these labourers, around 600 of them, who settled down here were then converted and granted land.

The said issue has been going on for the last two years. Locals had written to the Tehsildar in 2017 asking the authorities to ‘save Kapali Betta’. But as per news reports, D K Shivakumar has paid the required fees for a stretch of 10 acres of land bearing Nalahalli Survey number 283, and transferred the rights of the same to the Kapalibetta Development Trust.

Google Map Identification

This issue has also drawn attention to the naming of the hillock as ‘Yesu Betta’ and social media has been rife with protests against this ‘renaming’. Citizens have begun reporting this name change and seeking that Google revert it to its original name of ‘Kapali Betta’.

Land of Statues

If it does see the light of day, this controversy-mired statue is the third one that will be hosted by the district with two other projects already on the cards. While the statue of ‘Nadedaaduvaa Devaru’ Shivakumara Swamiji, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 111, will be installed in Magadi taluk, that of Balagangadharanatha Swamiji has been sanctioned at Bidadi. Both have been allotted a grant of Rs 25 crore each by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.

Country’s Tallest Statue Of Jesus Christ

While this is said to be the largest statue of Jesus in the country, it would also make it among the top five tallest statues of the world.

While Cristo de la Concordia (Christ of Peace) or the tallest statue of Jesus, is located atop San Pedro Hill and measures 132.7 feet, the largest statue is the Christ the King in Świebodzin, western Poland, which along with the mound on which it stands measures 172 feet, the proposed statue at Kanakpura would thus be the third tallest statue at 101 feet beating the more popular Christ The Redeemer statue at Rio De Janeiro, which is 98 feet tall.

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