Indians would have required visas to visit Junagadh and Hyderabad had Sardar Patel not taken tough action against the erstwhile Nawab-ruled states and merged them with the Indian Union, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said Friday.
He was addressing a public meeting in Chhani area on the outskirts of Vadodara as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) 'Ekta Yatra' which has so far covered 5,000 villages in the state.
Flagged off by Mr Rupani on October 19 ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiling the Statue of Unity dedicated to Sardar Patel on October 31, the march aims to make people aware of Patel's contribution in uniting the country.
"It was due to the tough stance of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel that these two nawab-ruled states were merged with India or else we would have required visas to visit these two places," Mr Rupani said.
The two princely states, in present day Gujarat and Telangana, had refused accession to India during Independence following which Patel ordered police action against them.
Mr Rupani added that there would have been no issue of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir had Sardar Patel been given a free hand there.
The chief minister said that PM Modi had paid a tribute to Sardar Patel, the architect of modern India, by constructing the 182-metre tall statue, touted as the world's largest.
The Statue of Unity is located on Sadhu Bet island near the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada River.
The chief minister further told the gathering that 5.50 lakh people nationwide had contributed in building the memorial as he reminded the crowd that Sardar Patel had himself addressed a rally in Chhani in 1939.
He alleged that earlier Congress-led government's had propagated the history of just one family and ignored the contributions of other freedom fighters.
"They ignored the history of Mahatma Gandhi... Even Sardar Patel's portrait inside Parliament was not installed by them for years. The contribution of freedom fighters like Veer Savarkar, Dr B R Ambedkar was never mentioned," Mr Rupani told the crowd.
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