New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was today gifted keepsakes of his idol Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose 139th birth anniversary was marked with unprecedented ardour by his government.
PM Modi received some of Sardar Patel's belongings, including plates, cups and saucers used by the iconic leader, from Sheila Ghatate of a Delhi-based NGO, Manjiri Trust. The objects had been willed to Mrs Ghatate by Sardar Patel's grandson Bipin Dahyabhai Patel and his wife Lui.
PM Modi said the objects were a "unique part of India's heritage" and appropriate arrangements would be made for their storage and preservation.
The government says Sardar Patel's birth anniversary on October 31 will be celebrated as "National Unity Day". Many in the Congress see this as a slight to their leader Indira Gandhi, the former prime minister who was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on this day, 30 years ago.
The BJP, which took power in May, says Sardar Patel - a Congressman and India's first home minister - was not given his due in history and that has to be remedied.
Today, a "Run for Unity" was organized in various cities; PM Modi walked briskly with a crowd after flagging off the Delhi event. He also administered a "pledge of unity" that asks people to draw inspiration from Sardar Patel and work for India's unity.