By Ramesh Reddy | Hyderabad
A Congress legislator from Andhra Pradesh has taken his devotion to party president Sonia Gandhi to new heights, or nine feet to be exact.
That is the height of Shankar Rao's 'Goddess Sonia' statue, depicting her as 'Telangana Talli' (Telangana mother) as a thank-you for the Centre's decision to create a Telangana state. It will be installed at what Dr Rao intends to call the 'Sonia Gandhi Shanti Vanam', in a patch of land near the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway registered in his daughter Sushmitha's name.
"I want to build the temple so that people can offer prayers to Sonia Gandhi every day for ending the dominance of Seemandhra leadership over Telangana. I am donating nine acres of my own land and with my own money'' says Dr Rao. "It is not sycophancy. I am a core loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family. The Congress gave me a ticket to contest polls seven times and I became a minister twice.''
The statue made of bronze and weighing 500 kg is being crafted by a national award-winning sculptor who, incidentally, belongs to the Seemandhra region that is vehemently opposed to Telangana.
Work on the statue began on December 9, Sonia Gandhi's birthday. It also happens to be the date on which then Union home minister P Chidambaram made a midnight announcement on Telangana in 2009.
The legislator claims he has the blessings of some Congress leaders at the Centre for his project. "We have shown the prototype of the idol to be installed and got it approved,'' he says.
The Congressman's shrine will have Sonia Gandhi join the ranks of prominent faces like Khushboo, MG Ramachandran and Amitabh Bachchan who have temples in their name.