The two men who seem to be mattering most to the nation – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,and the man who has launched a ferocious bid to take from him that position,Narendra Modi – came together at Ahmedabad for the inauguration of a museum dedicated to the legacy of a famous son of India,the renowned freedom fighter and politician,Sardar Vallabbhai Patel.
Curiously,although Sardar Patel was a member of the Congress Party and served as the first Home Minister of independent India,Narendra Modi and BJP have often taken refuge in his colossal shade,invoking the man’s efforts and the little that Congress paid back to honour him.
It was no surprise then,that high-flying statements would resonate from the two very special chief guests.
This is what they had to say:
* Sardar Patel was secular to the core. He had a deep faith in the integrity of India. He believed that the whole country was a village and people of all communities here were his relatives and friends.
* Mahatma Gandhi,Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad had strong faith in the country’s unity. They had a secular and liberal approach,sympathetic towards the poor. They were tolerant and respected different ideologies.
* All those present here will agree that those were such ideals which are lacking in the country today.
* Sardar Vallabbhai Patel worked to bring 500 provinces together to the nation of India.
* I am proud to be associated with the same political party that Sardar Vallabbhai Patel was associated with.
*Every Indian still regrets that he (Patel) did not become the first Prime Minister. Had he been the first Prime Minister,the country’s destiny would have been different.
* BJP will build a statue to honour the legacy of Sardar Vallabbhai Patel,a proud son of Gujarat. The statue will be erected from iron scrap collected from farmers in the state.
* Patel was instrumental in uniting the country. The unity and integrity of the country today is under threat from all fronts,be it terrorism or maoism.
* I want to tell the misguided youth who resort to bombs and guns that they cannot succeed in the land of Gandhi and Sardar (Patel). They cause harm to the country. But the biggest harm is caused to their own communities.
* I am thankful to you (PM) that under your rule,different state governments are awarded for best works in the field of good governance. You have started this practice in the last six-seven years and my government received award each year. Many ministries of the union government have also started this tradition and we have received over 90 such awards.