Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Jan 22:
Hours after the bronze statue of Veer Surendra Sai was ‘inaugurated’ by his descendant Lal Phakir Sai near his birthplace at Khinda square yesterday, the garlands were taken off and the statue was covered by local Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders who want the statue to be inaugurated by party chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
It may be noted that the authorities of Bhusan Steel, which is very close to the freedom fighter’s birthplace Khinda, had agreed to get the statue built on their expense in 2009. The statue, built at a cost of Rs 25 Lakhs was set up in Khinda square in January 2010.
However, the statue of the freedom fighter, who sacrificed his life for the country, remained covered due to dirty politics and one-upmanship among local political party units to inaugurate it.
Curiously, while the Communist party of India (CPI) garlanded the statue and declared it open in 2011, it was covered back a day later as the move didn’t go down well with other parties waiting for their share of publicity.
A plan to inaugurate it on January 23, 2013 on the birth anniversary of the leader got cancelled at the last moment. Another such attempt by local administration to get it inaugurated on the birth anniversary of the eminent freedom fighter in 2014 by BJD Chief Naveen Patnaik was also cancelled.
This year, local BJD workers have stuck posters around Rengali advertising that the CM will do the honours this time around on his trip to the place tomorrow (January 23, Surendra Sai’s birth anniversary).
However, their plans went awry when Surendra Sai’s ancestor Lal Phakir Sai, along with his son Lal Biren Sai and local Congress leaders, arrived at the spot all on a sudden yesterday and garlanded the statue and declared it inaugurated yesterday.
Earlier, Lal and other members of ‘Biplabi Veer Surendra Sai Smruti Sansad’ had approached the District collector and had informed him about their plans to inaugurate the statue on January 22.
Soon after the ‘inauguration’, local BJD leader MB Pyariraj, along with his supporters, reached the spot and took off the garland and covered it back again with polythene.
While politics over the inauguration of the statue continues, the deputy collector of Sambalpur and senior police officials have visited the spot.
Meanwhile, locals are still wondering if the statue has already been ‘inaugurated’ or ‘will be inaugurated’.