Veer Savarkar has been jostling with Mahatma Gandhi for space in the Indian textbooks for the past few years now, courtesy the leanings of the present dispensation in New Delhi. But the brazenness with which the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) erased Mahatma Gandhi’s image from the pillar of a flyover that has come up over the Income-Tax crossroads and replaced it with Savarkar’s portrait has raised several eyebrows.
It is worth noting here that Savarkar was one of the accused in Gandhi’s assassination. He was acquitted for the lack of evidence. Several people have pointed this out on social media and are protesting the move to erase Gandhi’s image in favour of Savarkar.
In 2012 when the flyover was conceptualised, its theme was based on the historic statue of Mahatma Gandhi nearby. It was then decided that all pillars of the flyover will have the image of Gandhi’s famed round spectacles as a tribute to the Father of the Nation in his home state.
The AMC, to ensure the Gandhi statue wouldn’t be damaged during the construction of the flyover, created a special steel structure around it in 2012, thereby adding another Rs 10 crore to the Rs 50-crore construction cost of the flyover, which was thrown open to public in 2019. It has been named after the late BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
Recently, the AMC decided to add images of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mangal Pandey, Swami Vivekananda, Sarojini Naidu and Rani Laxmibai to the flyover pillars.
A MESSAGE TO GUJARAT VIDYAPITH?
Call it a co-incidence or a deliberate ploy, but Savarkar’s image has come up on the pillar that is located right in front of the Gujarat Vidyapith.
It may be recalled that the Vidyapith campus had erupted in controversy in October this year after it was announced that for the first time in its 102-year-old history, a person with RSS background, and not a Gandhian, was named chancellor. That person is Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat.
Devvrat’s appointment led to nine trustees of the Vidyapith, all staunch Gandhians, tendering their resignation.
There are several unanswered questions regarding the flyover ‘image change’. While the AMC officials remained unavailable for comment, there was no clarity as to who gave the go-ahead to ‘erase’ Gandhi and ‘install’ Savarkar.