Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Gujarat today to mark the 144th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He paid tribute to the freedom icon at the Statue of Unity which he inaugurated last year and led the people present at the grand event in taking a pledge. "Unity in diversity is our pride and identity," he said.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Union Home Minister Amit Shah also paid tribute to Sardar Patel in Delhi. In the capital, Mr Shah flagged off the "Run for Unity" marathon with boxing champion Mary Kom handing over the flag. Thousands of people are expected to part in similar marathons in various parts of the country.
PM Modi also participated in the "Ekta Diwas" or National Unity Day parade. He will visit a technology demonstration site and interact with civil service probationers at Kevadiya in Narmada district, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
PM @narendramodi administers National Unity Day Pledge to all the people present at Statue of Unity in Kevadia on the occasion of #RashtriyaEktaDiwas#SardarPatel#SardarVallabhbhaiPatel#RunForUnitypic.twitter.com/GO6sWkM4HH— PIB India (@PIB_India) October 31, 2019
It is on Sardar Patel's birth anniversary that two Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh - have come into existence. Jammu and Kashmir has officially been split into two Union Territories nearly three months after the central government scrapped its decades-old special status under Article 370. India's first Home Minister, Sardar Patel is credited for the merger of over 560 princely states into the Union of India.
"Article 370 and 35A were the gateway of terrorism in India. Prime Minister Modi has closed this gate by repealing them," Mr Shah said while flagging off the "Run for Unity" event.
In an apparent swipe at Pakistan, PM Modi today said those who "cannot win wars against us" are trying to destroy the country's unity.
"Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are taking a step towards a new future today," the Prime Minister said.
PM Modi's government has been observing Sardar Patel's birth anniversary as National Unity Day since 2014 when he came into power.
The BJP had blamed Jawaharlal Nehru for Article 370, saying that had Kashmir been left to Sardar Patel to handle, Article 370 would not have come into existence.
Sardar Patel was born on October 31, 1875 at Nadiad in Gujarat.