Vadodara: Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi flagged off a two-kilometre "Run for Unity" in Vadodara today in what is being billed as a major mobilisation event for his dream project of building a giant statue of Sardar Patel.
Dubbed the "Statue of Unity", the 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - India's iron man - is tipped to be the world's tallest and is coming up in the middle of the Narmada river.
"The taller the statue will be, the more India will be known at the global stage," Mr Modi said at the ceremony.
"Unity in diversity" was his slogan at the flagging-off, which the 63-year-old leader exhorted the crowd to repeat after him.
The marathon, which coincides with Sardar Patel's death anniversary, was the first in over 565 such events planned at various locations across the country with senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, flagging them off at different locations. More than 10 lakh people across the country are expected to participate in the event.
The event also marked the beginning of the collection of iron scrap for the massive statue which will continue till February. Ministers in Mr Modi's government have already begun touring the country as part of the iron collection drive.
The event is a part of the BJP's efforts to galvanise party cadres across the country, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which will play a decisive role in who forms the next government in 2014. More importantly, it's an attempt by the party to cash in on and build on its stupendous 4-0 performance in the just-concluded assembly elections.