On the morning of 31st October 2013, which is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's Birth Anniversary, Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the Statue of Unity. Former Deputy Prime Minister of India and Lok Sabha MP from Gandhinagar Shri LK Advaniji was present on the occasion. The Statue of Unity is a statue to commemorate the Iron Man of India and India’s first Deputy PM Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Statue will be 182 metres and would be built on the banks of the Narmada River. Narendra Modi described this occasion as historic and described the Statue of Unity as a grand effort to integrate our future with our glorious history. “Our society needs to be conscious about its history and through this statue we want to give a perspective to the future. This will be both a Prerna Teeth (centre of inspiration) and a Pravasan Dham (tourism sport) for the people…this Statue is not because of the dam or because Sardar Patel belonged to Gujarat. The dream is much bigger. It will draw the world to India,” Shri Modi affirmed.
Narendra Modi gave a clarion call for national unity in his speech and said India’s specialty is the unity in diversity. He said:
“BhashaAnek, Bhav Ek. Rajya Anek, Rashtra Ek. PanthAnek, Lakshya Ek. BoliAnek, Svar Ek. Rang Anek, Tiranga Ek. Samaj Anek, Bharat Ek. RivajAnek, Sanskar Ek. KaryaAnek, Sankalp Ek. Rah Anek, Manzil Ek.ChehreAnek, Muskaan Ek.”
Paying rich tributes to Sardar Patel, he stated that after Chanakya, if there was a person who integrated the entire nation it was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Narendra Modi came down heavily on the attempts by certain parties and leaders to reduce our heroes on partisan lines and said that the nation is always greater than the party (
Dal se bada Desh). In this regard Shri Modi pointed, “Were Maharana Pratap, Rajguru, Sukhdev BJP members? Will we only remember BJP members? To associate Sardar Patel with any party would be great injustice. Yes, the party was an important part of his life but his greatness transcends party lines.” Modi ji question whether an inspiring person like Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar who is considered as a God by the marginalized sections of society can be associated only with a party.
Shri Modi said that he agreed with the Prime Minister when the PM said that Sardar Patel was secular and that the nation needs the secularism of Sardar Patel not the secularism of votebank politics. Modi ji pointed that the secularism of Sardar Patel integrated and did not divide the nation. Shri Modi affirmed in this regard, “Dal koi bhi ho sakta hai, dil desh ke liye hona chahiye (
party can be any but the heart must beat for the nation and every great it has produced).
He also pointed that earlier the advertisements in the newspapers ignored Sardar Patel but today there are more advertisements and this is due to the ‘Gujarat effect.”
Shri Modi came down heavily on the PM and the Centre for the delay in installing gates in the Narmada Dam, which can potentially benefit a lot of people spread across four states. He shared that Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, which have Congress and BJP governments have completed the rehabilitation work and all that is needed is for the Centre to call a meeting and give permission for the gates but for obvious reasons that is not happening. He expressed hope that Prime Minister realizes that there is no politics in the issue and he gives permission for installing the gates. Referring to the PM he avowed, “You can come for the inauguration, I will not even come but at least do it.”
During his speech Narendra Modi talked about the importance of water and termed the Sardar Sarovar Dam as the brainchild of Sardar Patel. He talked about how Kutch used to be a district of negative growth where people wanted to move away from but the Gujarat Government got water to Kutch and today the district is developing very fast. The Chief Minister stated that a decision has been taken to create a new Garudeshwar Taluka for the people of the newly created Narmada district, which will further the development journey of the people.
He also called for emerging out of the colonial mindset and position India strongly at the world level. Giving examples, he said that it was the Vajpayee Government that conducted nuclear tests that made the world take note of India. Similarly, it was the Vajpayee government that stopped the practice of presenting the budget at 5 in the evening because it was morning in Britain.
Shri Modi shared details of the initiative to gather iron implements from farmers across the nation and called for participation in the Run for Unity Programme on 15th December 2013, which is Sardar Patel’s Punya Tithi.
Shri Modi thanked the people and the various individuals and organisations that contributed towards this initiative. He shared that the Statue of Unity has been a dream for many years and many people have added colour by giving their suggestions. Shri Modi also said that a lot of Manthan has gone into the building of this statue. He specially thanked Shri LK Advani ji for gracing the occasion with his august presence.
Apart from Advani ji and Shri Modi, the top Ministers of the Gujarat Government, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, senior officials and others were present on the occasion in large numbers.