New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday dedicated birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as National Unity Day, saying a nation that disregards its history cannot create one and made a veiled reference to anti-Sikh riots that followed then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination this day 30 years ago.
Got up as an event to accord Sardar Patel, the 'Iron Man of India', his place in history, the Government made it clear that this was no attempt to belittle the contribution of any other leader.
"Let us not forget that a nation that disregards its history can never create one... Don't divide history, legacy in narrow confines of ideology," Modi said.
Flagging off run for unity on the 139th birth anniversary of the first Home Minister of the country celebrated as "Rashtriya Ekta Divas", Modi said Patel devoted his life for
the unity of the Nation and it was unfortunate that "our very own people" were killed on his birth anniversary 30 years ago.
In an apparent reference to riots which took place after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, Modi said, "Patel never deviated from his vision of national unity despite facing obstacles in his political life. It is a misfortune of this country that 30 years ago on the birth anniversary of such a leader an incident which shook the unity of nation took place."
"Hamare apne logon ko maut ke ghaat utar diya gaya (our own people were killed on that day). That incident was not a wound on the hearts of people of a particular religion it was a dagger into the heart of thousands of years of country's heritage and culture," he said.
He also noted that it was also the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Remembering the contribution of Patel in the Independence movement, Modi said Mahatma Gandhi had entrusted him with planning of historical Dandi march which he successfully did.
"When we see Ramakrishna Paramhans he appears to be incomplete without Swami Vivekananda. Similarly when we see Mahatma Gandhi, he also appears incomplete without Sardar Patel," he said.
Earlier welcoming the Prime Minister, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, "Had Sardar Patel been the first Prime Minister of the country, history would have been different. This is how many people feel."
He also said the celebration was not aimed at belittling the contribution of any other political leader.
Sangh has always felt that successive governments had held the contribution of Jawahar Lal Nehru and those of the Nehru-Gandhi family in higher regards over others.
After flagging off the "unity run" which saw participation of athletes like Sushil Kumar, Vijender Singh, cricketers Virendra Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, Modi made a brisk walk leading the run.
Flanked by Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj, Naidu, Arun Jaitely among others, the Prime Minister administered the oath of unity to participants.
Earlier, Modi offered floral tributes to the statue of Sardar Patel at Patel Chowk which was decked up for the occasion....