The comments, and the project, are seen as a not-so-subtle bid by Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to appropriate an independence-era hero associated with Congress, a party largely run by the Nehru-Gandhi family. Members of the family have ruled India for more than half the 66 years since it became an independent nation.
Mr Nehru, his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, were all prime ministers. Rajiv’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, is the current leader of the Congress and Rahul, her son, is leading the party’s campaign to take on Mr Modi at the elections.
Opinion polls say Mr Modi is more popular than the Gandhi scion, and he is favoured by India’s business titans for pro-investment policies and fast economic growth in Gujarat.
However, the 20.63 billion rupee (€245 million) 182-metre iron and bronze statue has been widely criticised as being unnecessary in a nation where one-third of the 1.2 billion people live in poverty. It is to be financed by the Gujarat government and public donations.
Eoin Treacy's view India’s next general election
doesn’t need to be held until next year but competition continues to heat
up. From a markets perspective, we have expressed a preference for Narendra
Modi’s prospects because his record for fostering economic growth in his
home state of Gujarat is so impressive.
However, committing approximately $300million US Dollars to building a statue in an effort to garner support and rehabilitate the image of one of the country’s founding fathers appears to display a petty characteristic which is undesirable in a leader. It is to be hoped that if he wins the election, his commitment to fostering economic growth and controlling inflation will come before trivial pet projects.
The Nifty Index is testing its 2007 and 2011 highs below 6400, having rebounded impressively from the August low. This rally has coincided with a greater effort by the central bank to temper inflation. The concurrent strengthening of the Rupee has made India more attractive for foreign investors. The Bombay Banks Index led on the downside and continues to rebound from the August lows. While somewhat overbought in the short term, a sustained move below 11,000 would be required to check medium-term potential for additional upside.