7 missing saints of Mahakal corridor become the issue of political rally for Congress in election-bound Madhya Pradesh – News18

Seats are vacant at ‘Saptarishi Mandal’ in Ujjain’s Mahakal Corridor, where work is underway to expand the project under the second phase ahead of the upcoming assembly elections. (Image: News18)

The collapse of seven statues of India’s great sages in May in a gust of wind sparked a political storm, with the Congress accusing the BJP of corruption.

While entering the grand Mahakal corridor in Ujjain, the religious capital of Madhya Pradesh, you cannot help but notice that seven idols are missing. His downfall in May had triggered a political storm in the poll-bound state.

The seats in the ‘Saptarishi Mandal’ are empty as the seven idols of India’s greatest sages have been taken away for repair and reinforcement. These will eventually be replaced by new statues made of stone, local officials said, as per orders from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Six of the seven statues had fallen in a gust of wind in May, following which the Congress created an uproar, accusing the state government of corruption and “not sparing even the deities”.

However, local residents are aware of the politics taking place over the matter. The work to expand the Mahakal Corridor under the second phase of the project is going on at a fast pace and some are saying that it will be completed before the upcoming elections.

“Look at the whole corridor… coming here feels like we are visiting heaven and it is very spiritual and beautiful. The opposition made a lot of hue and cry about the idols but we have heard that they will be reinstalled soon,” said Lal Chand Jangde, who has come with his entire family to pay obeisance.

The statues that collapsed were made of fibre-reinforced plastic and their bases were not cemented to preserve their beauty. The Congress said this shows shoddy work has been done and, in fact, accused the BJP of not taking the project forward the way the Kamal Nath-led government had envisaged it when it first allocated funds for it.

The BJP said the project became a reality during Chouhan’s tenure and the work picked up pace after tenders were floated under this regime. But the controversy in Ujjain matters.

There is stiff competition in Ujjain district and in 2018, the Congress won four of the seven seats, while the BJP won three. The missing statues of Maharishi Bhardwaj, Vishwamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, Kashyap and others have remained a rallying point for the old party.

But the BJP feels that expediting the second phase of the project – the total cost of which will go up to Rs 800 crore – will make the corridor more grand and help put the controversy behind. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first phase of the Rs 350-crore project last October, the state government is looking to go ahead with the second phase.