Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called on the people to make India a “powerful and strong nation”, and cautioned them against divisive forces. Paying rich tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the country’s first home minister, at a function to mark his birth anniversary, that is celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, Mr Modi said: “When we travel by train from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we do not need any visa or permit, we do not pay any tax when we pass through all states that fall on the route. It is because of one man, Sardar Patel, who united all states of this country. Patel united this country with his political will.” The PM then flagged off a “Run for Unity” to mark the occasion.
“Don’t you think that India should be more powerful and strong? The first condition for that to happen is ‘unity’. There should be no discrimination on the basis of caste or creed, village and city,” Mr Modi said, warning people to be vigilant against elements trying to divide society.
The PM said he was dedicating to the nation a digital museum in the nation’s capital in memory of Patel, who will always be remembered as India’s Iron Man. “It should have been built 40-50 years ago. History will ask the question of why it was not built earlier.”
Union urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said India would have been different had Patel been its first Prime Minister. “Today we need more leaders like Sardar Patel and I see all his traits in our Prime Minister Modi,” he said. Mr Modi flagged off the run along with veteran weightlifter N Kunjarani Devi and Rio Paralympics gold medal winner Devendra Jhajaria.