Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel neither did anything for his family nor has his family taken a “copyright” over him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said as he emphasised on highlighting contributions of such great men before future generations.
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Speaking at an event where he inaugurated a digital exhibition on the life of Patel on his 141st birth anniversary, he also said a country as diverse as India cannot run if we focus on our divisions and not live by the mantra of oneness.
“When we talk about unity, the message is clear, that I am a BJP ‘wallah’ but Sardar Patel was from Congress and still we are celebrating this jayanti with the same pomp and fervour,” Modi said.
He said in the times of every great man there are different ideas and debates associated with them but the succeeding generations don’t have the right to use contributions and achievements of great men to create divisions.
The attempt should be to find things from their lives which bind everyone, he added.
“I am surprised that some people ask who am I to celebrate the jayanti of Sardar Patel. But Sardar was such a person whose family has not taken any copyright. And anyways in public life, he did not do anything for his family. Whatever he did, was as duty for the country,” Modi said hitting out at critics.
Some people were so great, he said, that attempts were made to make their contributions forgotten for 70 years but these met with no success.
Terming Patel as a visionary, Modi said that he had brought in a proposal for 33 per cent women’s reservation as Ahmedabad municipality chief.
He said that most states were in favour of Patel and not Jawaharlal Nehru to head the government after independence. He added that Sardar however accepted Gandhiji’s wishes after which Nehru headed the government.
In a lighter vein, he said perhaps being a Gujarati himself Gandhi did not want to pick another Gujarati.
Speaking about Patel’s sacrifice in the present context, he said people won’t even give up the chairmanship of a municipality.
Earlier in the day, Modi paid floral tributes to Patel at his statue in the heart of national capital at Patel Chowk in New Delhi.
“I bow to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his birth anniversary. We recall his rich contribution to India,” he said.