If there’s one thing Narendra Modi has done with great vigour during his term in office, it to recast history to power his party’s politics. As part of that effort, the prime minister on Wednesday inaugurated a statue of freedom fighther Vallabhbhai Patel. Called the “Statue of Unity”, as part of an effort to commemorate Patel’s role in politically unifying the fragmented subcontinent in the wake of Independence, the statue is the tallest in the world.
Accompanying the launch of the statue is a public relations blitz by the Modi government. Readers on Wednesday woke up to find the same lead article on the op-ed pages of several newspapers: an essay by Prime Minister Modi extolling the virtues of Patel. In the piece, Modi commends Patel for uniting Indian politically in 1947 (“saved India from Balkanisation”) and for being a “veteran adminstrator”, using examples from his work in his home state of Gujarat.
This is how it appeared in The Times of India.
The Indian Express also carried Modi’s Op-Ed with a headline saying, “Uniting, he stands.”
The Hindustan Times headline hailed Patel as the “maker of modern India”.
The Hindu hailed Patel as “a great unifier” but instead of using the piece but Modi it used one by Vice President Venkiah Naidu.
“Remembering the architect of unity,” said the headline in the Hindi-language Dainik Jagran newspaper for Modi’s essay.
Kerala’s Mathrubhumi called Patel a “rising son of the soil”.
The Punjabi Tribune called Patel “The embodiment of unity and the maker of modern India”.
If a reader, however, did not get time to get to the op-ed pages, the cover pages of most newspapers also carried a full-page advertisement by the Modi government on the “State of Unity”. The ad declared that the statue was the “world’s tallest statue” and offered a comparison with other tall-but-not-as-tall statues from around the world.
The Deccan Chronicle did not run an op-ed by Prime Minister Modi but did carry the ad by the Union government
Here’s the ad in the Delhi-edition of the Indian Express.
Like the Deccan Chronicle, Tamil Nadu’s Dinamani did not run an op-ed by Prime Minister Modi but did carry the ad by the Union government.