Cong, BJP slugfest on Sardar Patel's birth anniversary

Congress, BJP engage in slugfest on Sardar Patel's birth anniversary

'Protecting democracy real tribute to Patel', says Rahul; 'efforts made to forget Sardar Saheb', says Shah

Union Home and Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah addresses on the occasion of the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, to commemorate the Birth Anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, at Statue of Unity. Credit: PTI Photo

A political slugfest ensued between Congress and BJP on the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with Rahul Gandhi reminding "pillars of our democracy are being weakened".

Addressing a gathering at the world's tallest 'Statue of Unity' at Kevadia in Gujarat, Home Minister Amit Shah said, "it is unfortunate that efforts were made to forget Sardar Saheb. After independence, his contributions were never given proper respect and place. He was neither conferred the Bharat Ratna nor proper respect. But it is said, 'how long can clouds keep the sun hidden?'".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "we have to keep in mind that as every person sitting in a boat has to care about it, we too can move forward only when we are united. Only then the country will be able to attain its goals."

He said deriving inspiration from him, the country is becoming fully capable of meeting any external and internal challenges and asserted that his government has given priority to the ideals that preserve national unity.

Read | Sardar Patel charted India's destiny, says CM Yogi

While the government celebrated the event as "Rashtriya Ekta Diwas" or "National Unity Day", Congress said,"in this fight to keep India united; In this fight to ensure love triumphs over hate; In this fight to protect our farmers, our people, our nation; we remember Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, today & everyday."

"Today, when all the pillars of our democracy are being weakened, we have to remember the contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He was also an important voice among the Congress leaders who built these pillars...Protecting democracy is the real tribute to Sardar Patel," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Patel's struggle "inspires us to stand like a rock in the fight for justice against the oppression of the farmers" and recalled how the "Iron Man" Patel raised the voice of farmers' rights and self-respect in the Bardoli Satyagraha.

The reference was not lost as Congress has made the issue of the ongoing farmer agitation against three contentious farm laws of the central government a key poll issue in the run up to the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

The slugfest comes in the backdrop of repeated allegations of Congress that the BJP is trying to appropriate freedom fighter icons belonging to the Congress.

The ruling BJP has repeatedly drawn the Patel-Nehru binary to hail the commitment of Patel in unifying India vis-a-vis alleged 'mishandling' of Kashmir issue by India's first Prime Minister.

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