Vadodara/ New Delhi, Dec 15 :
As thousands ran across the country to support the proposed 182-metre tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi said the run should not be seen politically.
“This is an effort to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of all Indians. Please do not view it from the prism of politics,” he said.
According to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the run was held simultaneously at 1,100 places across the country on the occasion of 63rd death anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The 182-metre tall “statue of unity” is proposed to be built facing the Narmada dam in Gujarat.
In Delhi, the run was flagged off by party president Rajnath Singh who called upon the youth to rise for the nation.
“The youth of India needs to awaken and rise… no power in the world would dare to face us, that is the power of our youth,” Singh said at the BJP’s Delhi office before flagging off the race.
The run will also start a campaign for collection of iron from all over the country for the statue.
A brainchild of Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the programme was part of hundreds of rallies held simultaneously across the country to spread the message of national unity and to seek support for the mega project.
Called the “Statue of Unity”, it will be installed in the middle of the Narmada river in Gujarat.
The Sardar Vallabhai Patel Ekta Trust, which organised the event, invited all Indians to participate, irrespective of community, caste, religion and creed, and age.
In Ahmedabad, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani inaugurated the run, saying it was a true tribute to Patel on his 63rd death anniversary.
He praised the people for turning up in large numbers.
The Congress, which has accused Modi of trying to appropriate Patel’s legacy, termed the exercise ironical.
“It is ironical that the BJP responsible for communalising the country is organising the event,” Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal said.
The unity run was also held in major cities across India.
In Delhi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley flagged off the marathon from the party headquarters.
Party MP and spokesperson Prakash Javadekar took part in the marathon in Hyderabad, while actor-turned-MP Smriti Irani led the race in West Bengal.
“I think today in the country, we have over 50 lakh participants in the ‘Run for Unity’ and I am grateful to all those who participated because they are contributing towards the unity of India,” Irani said.
The participants wore T-shirts with a picture of Sardar Patel on it. The theme for the run was good governance and national integration.
The BJP is also reaching out to people to collect iron pieces for the statue touted as the tallest structure in the world.
In Patna, BJP leaders including former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Rajya Sabha Deputy Leader of Opposition Ravishankar Prasad, Leader of Opposition in the state legislative assembly Nandkishore Yadav, party’s Bihar unit in charge Dharmendra Pradhan and Gujarat MP Purushottam Rupala participated in the run. (IANS)