Former Karnataka minister and senior Congress MLA DK Shivakumar's Christmas gift to the people of his Kanakapura assembly constituency, 50 km from Bengaluru, by paying Rs 10.80 lakh from his personal funds towards the cost of the land for erecting the world's perhaps tallest statue of Jesus Christ in granite has hit a road block.
The Yediyurappa government has decided to take a relook at the land sanctioned by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. Revenue Minister R Ashoka said the land allotted was gomal (grazing) and not a barren one as claimed by Shivakumar. "I have asked the deputy commissioner of Ramanagara district to submit a report on the land allotment,'' he added.
The monolith statue of Jesus Christ to be carved out of granite will be 114 feet tall of which 14 feet will be the steps alone that will lead to the statue. The statue was supposed to come up at Kapalibetta in Harobele village in Kanakapura. Harobele village was chosen as Christians constitute 99% of the population.
Shivakumar's move has invited flak from the BJP with former Union minister Ananthkumar Hegde tweeting: "A Tihar returned gentleman is trying to please his Italian mother for a post by demonstrating his gallantry through a statue of Jesus Christ. It will not be surprising if more Ghulams (slaves) from the Congress jump into the arena of appeasement politics.''
Karnataka BJP minister K S Eshwarappa ridiculed Shivakumar by saying that the Congress party which had opposed the construction of Ram temple was installing the statue of Jesus Christ.
Countering BJP'S statements, Shivakumar told the media on Friday: "Hegde is unemployed and had earlier made statements that BR Ambedkar's constitution should be burned. I have constructed hundreds of temples in my constituency including a Ram temple in Mailasandra in Yeshwanthpur. My constituency comprises people from all communities and I have to respect their feelings.''
Regarding the timing of presenting the Rs 10.80 lakh cheque in the backdrop of reports that he is in the race for the state Congress President's post, Shivakumar said the project was conceived by the Harobele Kapalibetta Development Trust two years ago. "They had identified land which belonged to the government. I explained to them that it would lead to complications in future and during HD Kumaraswamy's tenure as Chief Minister, we got the land sanctioned. There is no dispute over the land which has been sanctioned as it in a hilly region,'' he added.
According to Shivakumar, the delay in handing over the land was because he wanted to pay the amount of Rs 10.80 lakh personally, which had not been possible as he was in jail. "I did not want anybody else to pay the amount on my behalf. After paying, I decided to hand over the title deeds of the land on Christmas day,'' he maintained.
Meanwhile, S Chinnaraj in Harobele, who is coordinating the work on the statue said the project would take five years for completion. "Granite for the statue will be the waste one from the local area and the total cost is yet to be estimated. Once the statue is ready, it will replace the existing one which is 20 feet in height and was built in 1906,'' he added.
According to Chinnaraj the granite statue was planned as the local people wanted it to be unique. "There are hundreds of statues in churches, but one in granite and 114 feet tall will create a record. The project was also conceived for the socio-economic development of the region as it will attract tourists leading to employment,'' he said.