Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning paid rich tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly known as "Iron Man of India", on his 70th death anniversary.
Ahead of his Gujarat visit, PM Modi tweeted in Hindi: "Tribute to Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who laid the foundation of a strong and prosperous India, on his death anniversary. The path shown by him will always inspire us to protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country."
Born in Gujarat's Nanded, Sardar Patel - a leader of the Indian National Congress - played a critical role in India's freedom struggle; he is credited with uniting all 562 princely states of the pre-independent country. He was India's first home minister and deputy PM.
"When India attained Independence he became the Deputy Prime Minister and was responsible for the Home, States and the Information and Broadcasting portfolios. It was in this capacity that he was called upon to tackle the most intricate and baffling problem of the States' integration into the Union of India. And it is here that his tact, his powers of persuasion and his statesmanship came into full play," the Congress says on its official page.
"He sorted out the problems of partition, restored law and order and dealt with the rehabilitation of thousands of refugees with great courage and foresight," it says.
In 2018, PM Modi inaugurated "Statue of Unity" to pay his tribute to the freedom fighter near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat's Narmada district. The statue - 182 m tall - is said to be world's tallest. It is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US and taller than the 153-metre Spring Temple Buddha in China.
Today PM Modi will visit his home state to lay the foundation stone of several development projects.