Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday completed 20 years as the head of a government (including 13 years as the Gujarat Chief Minister), and, addressing an event in Uttarakhand's Rishikesh, said he had "never imagined I would rise" to hold such positions.
"I had never imagined that I would rise from the post of Chief Minister to the post of Prime Minister (but) on this day, 20 years ago, I got a new responsibility to serve the public. My journey of serving the people... living among the people... was going for many decades earlier but 20 years ago today I got a new responsibility - as the Chief Minister of Gujarat," he said.
Prime Minister Modi first took oath as the leader of the Gujarat government on October 7, 2001.
The Prime Minister's anniversary celebrations were hailed by members of his ruling BJP, including party chief JP Nadda, who listed some of the Modi government's "achievements" and credited him with "implementation of decisions... for the foundation of a strong nation".
"Be it abrogation of Article 370, law against 'triple talaq', Ram temple in Ayodhya, CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), constitutional status to OBC commission, GST, and reservation for economically backward sections, PM Modi has resolved issues that ailed country for 70 years and implemented decisions (that) will lay the foundation of a strong nation," Mr Nadda declared.
The BJP chief also declared Prime Minister Modi had placed India at the centre of the global stage by ensuring decisiveness against terrorism and managing international diplomacy.
Others to wish PM Modi included Home Minister Amit Shah, who credited him with kickstarting the country's "journey of good governance and development".
PM Shri @narendramodi completes 20 years in public office today, dating back to 2001 when he took oath as the CM of Gujarat.— BJP (@BJP4India) October 7, 2021
His leadership from Gujarat to Delhi testifies to his transformative agenda for the nation.#20YearsofSevaSamarpanpic.twitter.com/YrdE3ebEmq
The BJP - which went all out to celebrate the Prime Minister's 71st birthday last month, including by orchestrating a record number of COVID-19 vaccinations (around 2.25 crore) in 24 hours - is celebrating this month by cleaning rivers, offering prayers in temples and gurudwaras, and spreading awareness about the centre's welfare schemes, according to news agency ANI.
The Prime Minister's 20th anniversary celebration comes amid a barrage of criticism from the opposition and concerned members of civil society over the government's handling of issues like the pandemic, the India-China border stand-off, the condition of the national economy and, more immediately, the death of eight people, including four farmers, at UP's Lakhimpur Kheri.
With input from ANI