New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) Commemoration of the death anniversary of former prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31 by the Congress stands to be overshadowed by the ‘Run for Unity’ organised on Saturday by the Narendra Modi government to mark India’s first deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary.
For Indians of a certain generation used to watching members of the Gandhi family offering floral tributes at ‘Shakti Sthal’ – a memorial at the spot where Indira Gandhi was cremated after her assassination by two of her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984 – it will be a departure of sorts as the BJP-led government has deployed its machinery for the annual ‘Run for Unity’ on Saturday morning on ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ or National Unity Day.
The timings of both the events coincide more or less.
The government last year announced to commemorate Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary as National Unity Day to recognise the Iron Man’s contribution to preserve the unity of India after Independence. It also announced an annual run for unity on the occasion.
The Congress, on its part, is not willing to give up its claim on Patel who, it claims, “vanquished the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)”.
“Indira-ji’s martyrdom day and Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary have been celebrated together for decades by workers and leaders of the Indian National Congress. Only the RSS and the BJP – whose ideology Sardar Patel vanquished – have found a new love for the ‘Iron Man’. Is it proper for the government of a country to completely obliterate the memory of a former PM who laid down her life for the country? None less than former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called her Durga,” said Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao refused to comment on the issue, saying it was something the government should answer.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will offer floral tributes at Sardar Patel’s statue on Parliament Street in New Delhi at 7.30 a.m. on Saturday after which he will address the people assembled at Rajpath for the ‘Run For Unity’. He will administer a pledge for unity to the gathering. The run will be flagged off at about 8.15 a.m. from the lawns of Vijay Chowk.
On the eve of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, the pledge for national unity was administered at many offices of the government of India in New Delhi on Friday. The celebrations would also be held in different states and even overseas.