BHUBANESWAR: As Tripura tackles with violence post razing of Russian Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin’s statue and the call for installation of Mahatma Gandhi’s image in its place grows louder, hundreds of kilometres away here in Odisha, the two leaders stand shoulder to shoulder amidst peace. In Dandi, a small village of Balasore district, the statues of Gandhiji and Lenin sharing the same space is an example of tolerance for people of different ideologies.
Researcher Anil Dhir, who dug up the fact, reveals the history behind the two statues standing in a few feet distance at Lenin Chhak. The area, he says, was once a Communist Party bastion and during the peak of Indo-Russian co-operation, local unit of the party invited the then Consul General of Russia at Kolkata to put up Lenin’s statue in the village. It was in 1984. “When D-Day came near, the babus at Bhubaneswar saw red. They put a halt to the programme but the minor diplomatic storm in the teacup brought Central intervention,” says Dhir.
It was finally decided that the Consul General would inaugurate statues of both the Mahatma and Lenin. A statue of the Mahatma matching the dimensions of Lenin’s was procured, set up and inaugurated amidst fanfare. The place has since been known as Lenin Chhak. The pedestals on two small platforms, about 20 feet from each other, are set up on the premises of a now abandoned school. “This, perhaps, is the only place in the world where the apostle of peace and the radical Communist share space. The sight of the statues is a heartwarming one, an example of the might of human spirit,” says Dhir.