Karnataka may not have much money in its coffers after the twin hit on the economy by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, but that has not stopped the state government from planning its next statue.
The government on Saturday will lay the foundation for a proposed statue of the founder of Bengaluru -- Kempe Gowda, a 16th-century chieftain credited with having developed the city as a self-sufficient one with a wide network of lakes, multi-cultural colonies and ample greenery.
This is the second statue being planned amid the pandemic -- three weeks ago the state housing minister had proposed a 120-feet tall Vivekananda statue as a tourist attraction in rural Bengaluru.
The Kempe Gowda statue has also raised eyebrows considering the city already has about 10 statues of the founder-chieftain.
"It is our government's intention to construct this memorial as a way to remember and create awareness on the visionary who founded Bengaluru 500 years ago and made it accommodative for all castes and religions," Deputy Chief Minister Ashwathnarayana told News18.
That argument, however, has not gone down well with the opposition, which has questioned the need for this at a time when the economy has been badly hit and there are other priorities for government spending.
"This should not be the priority for the government, let the airport authorities spend it. The government must not spend even one rupee on this, they are only doing it for political purpose. Let the private entity build the statue, why should the government?" asked Congress state president DK Shivakumar.
The statue will be 108-feet tall and will be surrounded by a 23-acre park close to the Kempe Gowda International Airport. Famed sculptor Ram Sutar, who designed the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, will be in charge of this.
Responding to the criticism, Ashwathnarayan said the money being spent has already been allocated in the previous budget.
"We have been trying to make this dream a reality for a long time, so only money which is already allocated is being used for this purpose," he said. "If we don't implement the money, it will lapse and be used for something else. We are trying to ensure it gets used within the law, so we want to organise this programme as June 27 is the birth anniversary of 'Nadaprabhu' Kempe Gowda."