On 31 October, the birth anniversary of Vallabhbhai Patel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the “Statue of Unity”—a 182-metre tall statue of Patel, erected on the banks of the Narmada river in Gujarat—to commemorate the leader of the Indian independence movement. Built at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore, the statue is the tallest in the world, and forms part of a pattern that reveals Modi’s desire to construct monuments to his legacy.
Modi’s efforts to leave an architectural legacy trace back to his reign as chief minister of Gujarat. In this excerpt from “The Emperor Uncrowned,” Vinod K Jose’s profile of Modi in the March 2012 issue of The Caravan, he explored this long-standing aim and spoke to architects who had worked for the then Gujarat chief minister. An official, who worked with Modi on a project in Gujarat in 2007, said, “If an architect in front of him realises the stupidity of one of his suggestions, even a world-renowned designer will just be shutting up and delivering what’s asked.”