Thursday, February 23, 2006

Vivekananda statue awaits VIP inaugural

Vivekananda statue awaits VIP inaugural
Deccan Herald

Swami Vivekananda became unforgettable with his torch-bearing speech in the World Conference of Religions at Chicago in 1893. However, in Bangalore, he and his teachings are still under wraps. A statue of the saint erected at Ulsoor

Lake remains covered for over three months now. And it may not see the light of day soon, thanks to the change in government.

The history: Former mayor R Narayanaswamy was instrumental in the installation of the 13-foot statue at the Vivekananda Park, during his tenure. The Congressman, who mobilised Rs 13.10 lakh from the Brigade Group for the project, had only one wish -- that Sonia Gandhi unveil the statue before his tenure ended on November 29, 2005. But that was not to be. The inauguration ceremony planned for November 20 had to be called off, as Ms Gandhi did not make it to Bangalore.

“The then Chief Minister Dharam Singh got involved in the Gowda-IT stand off, and could not schedule her programme,’’ according to Swami Veetabhayananda, President, Ramakrishna Math.

The statue has an intriguing past. It was to be installed at Badarikashrama at Turuvekere taluk in Tumkur.

“President A P J Abdul Kalam could not make it to the unveiling ceremony there, so we brought it to Bangalore,’’ says Swami Tyagishwaranandaji, who handles the project for the Vivekananda Ashram (rechristened Ramakrishna Math in 2003).

A similar statue made by the same group G Paul & Sons in Kolkata at a cost of Rs 9.10 lakh was returned to Badarikashrama, and is also awaiting inauguration.

The statue has only engravings of Vivekananda’s quotes on it and no names of sponsors.

The park, in which the statue stands on a 10-foot pedestal, is being developed at a cost of Rs 1.3 crore by the BMP and the horticulture department.

‘’We are told that the inauguration can take place only after completion of beautification works,’’ says Swami Veetabhayananda. But who will inaugurate it, with a JD(S)-BJP government in place?

The Math authorities wait for a word from Mr Narayanaswamy. He in turn, pleaded ignorance.

“I think the Math will invite Sonia Gandhi,’’ he muses. Ulsoor corporator G Saravana is not too sure either. “I asked Mayor Mumtaz Begum why this statue stands covered. Her answer is that she is not aware of the details,’’ he claims

The initiator of the project, economist D M Nanjundappa is no more. Former BDA Chairman Jayakar Jerome who helped get the Government Order for the installation has moved to Mumbai.

Former Mayor Prema Cariappa who suggested Nanjudappa’s idea for a statue close to the Vivekananda Road (Old Madras Road till 1996) has shifted office to Delhi. With Mr Narayanaswamy vacating the Mayor’s chair and Mr Dharam Singh and KPCC President Mallikarjuna Kharge, who were to invite Ms Sonia Gandhi, no longer in power, Vivekananda’s Chicago pose might remain wrapped for some more time for want of the desired VIP to inaugurate it.

How much longer will it be before Bangaloreans learn that Vivekananda walked past the Old Madras Road, adjoining the Ulsoor Lake in 1892?


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