Prime Minister Narendra Modi said "unity in diversity is our pride, identity" as he paid tribute to India's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Statue of Unity on the occasion of his 144th birth anniversary.
While talking about India's unity, the prime minister launched what seemed to be a veiled attack against Pakistan, saying: "Those who cannot win wars against us are trying to destroy our unity."
There has been a chill in the two countries' relationship since Pakistan raked up the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status by the Indian government on the International front.
Underlining the theme of an 'integrated India', the prime minister hailed the BJP-led government's moves to abrogate Article 370 to remove Jammu and Kashmir's special status and talks. The move has integrated Kashmir with the rest of India and that was Patel's dream, he added.
"Article 370 only gave separatism and terrorism to Jammu and Kashmir. It was the only place in the country where Article 370 was present, in the last three decades, over 40,000 people got killed there and several mothers lost their sons because of terrorism. Now this wall of Article 370 has been demolished," Modi said.
"Centuries ago India was united by Chanakya, and after that Sardar Patel did it," He said speaking in front of the colossal statue of Patel--known as the 'Statue of Unity'--in Gujarat.
"Tributes to the great Sardar Patel on his Jayanti. His contribution to our nation is monumental," he tweeted earlier in the day.
When the prime minister was offering floral tributes to Patel, flower petals were also showered on the world's tallest statue by an Indian Air Force helicopter.
During the day, the prime minister will also participate in the "Ekta Diwas Parade", visit a technology demonstration site and interact with civil service probationers at Kevadiya.
In October last year, Modi had inaugurated 'Statue of Unity' on the occasion of Patel's 143rd birth anniversary. He had announced to build the statue when he was Gujarat's Chief Minister.
Located on Sadhu-Bet Island, Gujarat, the 182-metre tall statue which occupies over 20,000 square meters is the tallest statue in the world.
Since 2014, October 31 is observed as National Unity Day and people from all walks of life participate in the Run for Unity.
In his 'Mann Ki Baat' programme on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi had urged people to participate in large numbers in the 'Run for Unity'.
"Friends, as you know that October 31 every year since 2014 has been celebrated as 'National Unity Day'. This day imparts the message to protect the unity, integrity and security of our country at any cost. On October 31, this year too 'Run for Unity' is being organized like the previous years. 'Run for Unity' is a symbol of unison, that the nation being united, is moving in one direction and collectively aims for- One goal! Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat," he said.
(With Agency Inputs)
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