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Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 182-metre high statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, BSP chief Mayawati sought an apology from the BJP for its comments in the past against installation of statues of Dalit icons.

At 182 metre, the mammoth replica of Sardar Patel is the world's tallest statue, leaving behind USA's Statue of Liberty (93 metre), Japan's Ushiku Daibutsu (120 metre) and even China's Spring Temple Buddha (153 metre) statues.

"Today is a day that will be remembered in the history of India", said Modi who hailed Sardar Patel's "strategic thinking" in bringing together the disparate country after independence in 1947 and the Statue of Unity as "a symbol of our engineering and technical prowess".

Posters of Mr Modi with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani were torn down or had their faces blackened at the weekend.

Modi, who ordered the statue built on the Narmada river when he was Gujarat chief minister, said past year there had been efforts to "belittle" or "remove from history" the contributions of Patel, who helped unite India's 562 princely states as the first home, or interior, minister. He had promised to deliver the project, despite criticism that India couldn't afford to spend so much money on such an indulgence.

Indian air force planes showered flower petals on the statue during its unveiling. The Statue of Unity is just under half as tall as the Empire State Building, which stands at 1,250 feet. Hundreds of Chinese have been among the 3,500 workers involved in its construction.

The "Statue of Unity" is double the size of the Statue of Liberty in NY standing 240 metres high. Farmers and members of India's tribal communities protested the statue before it was unveiled.

He said Patel was a Congress leader and BJP should not be allowed to adopt him.

"Ironic that a statue of Sardar Patel is being inaugurated, but every institution he helped build is being smashed", Gandhi said on social network Twitter, using an honorific for Patel. It is made up of almost 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel.

Indian policemen gather next to the Statue of Unity.