New Delhi: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel gave us one nation and it is now for us to turn it into a superior India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday at an event to mark the birth anniversary of the country's first home minister.
Sardar Patel "gave us one India" and it is our responsibility to "turn into sreshta (superior) Bharat", said Modi at the Rashtriya Ekta Divas (National Unity Day) programme at the expansive Vijay Chowk.
Modi, who was dressed in a white kurta pyjama with a red coloured shawl draped on his left shoulder, said India was a country of diversity, a "guldasta" (bunch of flowers).
"Our culture and legacy is of unity in diversity. Let us rise over differences of creed, community, language," Modi said.
He said the country's historical legacy should not be divided on the basis of ideologies.
"The country which forgets history can never create history, so for a country filled with aspirations, a country whose youth has dream, historical legacy always inspires. We should not divide historical legacy on the basis of ideologies," Modi said.
He said Mahatma Gandhi seems incomplete without Sardar Patel and they formed an "unbreakable pair".
Modi also referred to Patel's role in integration of states after Independence.
He said Sardar Patel brought farmers into the freedom struggle and played a key role in organising Dandi yatra.
Modi referred to former prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination on this day in 1984 and subsequent anti-Sikh riots and expressed pain over the "incident that hurt the unity of the country".
The prime ministered administered a pledge to people, including a large number of youth gathered early in the morning at Vijay Chowk, and said that there was need to keep moving forward with the mantra of unity.
He also flagged off a "Run for Unity" and also participated in it. He briskly walked on the Rajpath as hundreds of runners swarmed around him. His security personnel had a tough time in keeping people at bay.
The Run for Unity covered a distance of about two km from Vijay Chowk to India Gate.
Modi has been referring to Sardar Patel's legacy when he was chief minister of Gujarat and in his election speeches.
The Gujarat government is building a 182 metre statue of Patel, also known as "Iron Man of India".
Modi government has decided to observe the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel as the National Unity Day. Patel was born Oct 31, 1875.