Karnataka: With ‘Statue Of Prosperity’, BJP Blows The Election Bugle For The Second Time

Sharan Setty

Nov 11, 2022, 11:01 AM | Updated Nov 12, 2022, 11:54 AM IST

A Kempegowda statue. (Representative image)
A Kempegowda statue. (Representative image)
  • The Prime Minister's visit to Bengaluru will have a significant political weightage, as Karnataka gears up for state Assembly elections in 2023. 
  • Today, Friday, 11 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Bengaluru to inaugurate the Terminal 2 of Kempegowda International Airport. 

    After the inauguration, the PM will unveil the ‘Statue of Prosperity’ — a 108 feet bronze statue of Bengaluru city’s founder Nadaprabhu Kempegowda. Built at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore, the second terminal will double the capacity of the airport. 

    Why is the statue so important? Apart from the political significance it may have, it is an architectural marvel. The statue is made from 98 tonnes of bronze and 120 tonnes of steel.

    Kempegowda’s sword alone weighs four tons and the statue has been conceptualised and sculpted by Padma Bhushan Ram V Sutar who also worked on the Statue of Unity.

    According to the World Book of Records, the statue is said to be the “first and tallest bronze statue of a founder of a city”. 

    It is located in the vicinity of a heritage theme park that spans over 23 acres. The total cost of the project is Rs 84 crore, according to the government. Bengaluru’s founder Kempegowda is widely revered by the Vokkaligas, among other communities in the state. This is even more predominant in regions such as Old Mysore and other parts of southern Karnataka. 

    Sources in the BJP government tell Swarajya that the origin of the idea to instate a statue paying tribute to Kempegowda was originally the brainchild of two people - CM B S Yediyurappa and his deputy, Dr C N Ashwath Narayan. 

    The government is also constructing a theme park at the location of the statue that would reflect Kempegowda’s idea of Bengaluru. The theme park would have a model of Bengaluru that includes tiny lakes, cultural symbols, museums, and other elements.

    According to Dr. Ashwath Narayan, Vice-Chairman of the Kempegowda Heritage Area Development Authority and Minister for Higher Education, IT&BT, Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, and Livelihood, the entire project should be finished in six months.

    "There will also be a system in which technologists, culture and history enthusiasts, and others are highly interested in researching Kempegowda’s life and disseminating his approach to infrastructure.

    "Kempegowda envisioned Bengaluru as being productive, entrepreneurial, infrastructure- and culture-rich, and today’s residents are receiving the benefits in spades," he said.

    On COVID19 and mobility, Dr Narayan said, “Since it is a very big structure, it had to be created part-by-part, with precision planning. Due care was taken to ensure that it was immune to heavy winds and other natural forces.

    "Some parts had to be transported in trailers that rolled on as many as 12 wheels. Transportation was by no means an easy task. But because the sculptors have had previous experience in logistics, it was smoothly managed.” 

    Sacred mud (Mruthike) was collected from all over the state, from around 22,000 locations, which was later mixed and placed beneath one of the towers of the Statue of Prosperity. Twenty-one special vehicles toured across the length and breadth of the state over the last two weeks to collect the Mruthike. 

    Apart from the outreach to the Vokkaligas, it is said that the Prime Minister’s visit will also be significant in terms of the party’s appeal to the Kuruba and the Valmiki voters since he happens to be paying floral tributes to the statues of saint poet Kanaka Dasa and Maharishi Valmiki at the Vidhana Soudha premises. 

    Back in May, Minister for Home Affairs, Amit Shah, paid a visit to Karnataka when the state was grappling with issues such as minister KS Eshwarappa’s resignation on charges of corruption, and an alleged scam in the police recruitment. This was believed to be a precursor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit a month later,  in June. 

    In just about a month, the talks of internal dissent and other controversies were replaced with talks about ‘vikas’ (development). 

    While it is normal for a prime minister to campaign for the party in different elections, the fact that the Government of Karnataka (GoK) had declared a holiday for educational institutions ahead of his visit showed the significance of the visit. 

    He laid the foundation stones for several projects that would make a crucial impact in terms of building good infrastructure and improving intra and inter-city transportation in the state.

    A total of infrastructure projects worth Rs 27,000 crore were announced by the Prime Minister. All of this was happening amid infighting in the Karnataka Congress. 

    This time again, the visit of the Prime Minister will have a significant political weightage, as Karnataka gears up for state Assembly elections in 2023. 

    Speaking to Swarajya, Bengaluru South Lok Sabha MP Tejasvi Surya said “PM Modi’s focus has been all round infrastructure development across the country. In the last eight years, the central government has sanctioned about Rs 70,000 crore for 5,000 kilometres of national highways in Karnataka. 

    "Before 2014, the government at the centre, in the railway budget, used to make an average provision of Rs 800 crore for Karnataka every year.  But now, a provision of about Rs 7,000 crore has been made in the budget by the central government this year. That is, it has now become almost nine times of what was being provisioned earlier.

    During the ten years prior to 2014, only 16 km of railway lines in Karnataka were electrified. But since then, about 1600 km of railway lines have been electrified in Karnataka; 16 km in 10 years and 1600 km in these 8 years.”

    Both the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) have reacted sharply against ‘taxpayers money’ being used to build the statue and that the BJP is politicising an icon like Kempegowda. 

    The path to 2023 is getting intense by the day, as parties are breaking out of their traditional methods and reaching out to communities that may not be dominantly in support of them, electorally speaking. 

    Watch out for 2023 to know whose outreach actually made a solid impact on gathering votes across the state. 

    Sharan Setty (Sharan K A) is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @sharansetty2.

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