- Sardar Patel was a dedicated leader of the Congress: Priyanka Gandhi
- BJP had no freedom icon of its own so was forced to honour him, she said
- Sardar Patel birth anniversary has been designated as National Unity Day
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his birth anniversary on Thursday, Congress's Priyanka Gandhi Vadra derided the ruling BJP saying it had no freedom icon of its own so was forced to honour a dedicated Congress man.
"Sardar Patel was a dedicated leader of the Congress and believed in the Congress ideology. He was a close associate of Jawaharlal Nehru and was strictly against the RSS," Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in her tweets, posted with a photo of Sardar Patel with Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.
The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the BJP.
"The BJP's attempt to appropriate Sardar Patel and its tributes make me very happy, because the BJP's action makes two things clear - one, they have no legendary freedom fighter of their own, almost all were linked with the Congress, and two, even Sardar Patel's enemies are forced to revere him," the Congress general secretary tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other ministers addressed events across the country to mark Sardar Patel's birth anniversary, which was designated "National Unity Day" by the government.
Since it came to power in 2014, the BJP has made it a point to project Sardar Patel as a leader who was undermined by the Congress led by Jawaharlal Nehru and other members of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
October 31 is also the death anniversary of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated by her bodyguards in 1984.