Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday flagged off a “Run for Unity” to commemorate the 142nd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the capital.
Addressing the gathering, he said some parties and governments in the past tried to run down and erase the contributions of Patel in unifying the country immediately after Independence, and added that it was due to the contributions of India’s first Home Minister that India was not disintegrated into smaller States.
“The British government wished that India was disintegrated into smaller States. But Patel used all means and succeeded in uniting all princely States into a single nation within a very small span of time,” Mr. Modi said, asking the youth to carry forward Patel’s legacy.
Stating that Patel’s contribution can never be forgotten, Mr. Modi said that India’s diversity was her strength and it was the responsibility of the 125 crore people to ensure that India remained united despite so many languages, religions, cultures, customs, lifestyles and food habits.
Rashtriya Ekta Diwas
The government has earmarked October 31 as ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.
Reacting to Mr. Modi’s criticism, the Congress accused the BJP and the RSS of trying to “appropriate” Patel as the saffron party had no role in the freedom struggle.
The party also recalled it was Patel who banned the RSS after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.The Congress, which has been facing BJP criticism over ignoring Patel’s contributions, launched a counter-offensive against the BJP, deprecating efforts to “appropriate” the legacy of the leader.
“To honour the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the BJP and the RSS should stop appropriating him,” the Congress said on its Twitter handle. The Congress also posted Patel’s quote after the Mahatma’s killing which said: “The speeches of the Sangh [RSS] leaders are poisonous. It is as a result of this venom that Mahatma has been assassinated.”
(With PTI inputs)