Invoking Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's work for national integration, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said "unity, peace and harmony" was the first condition if India has to move forward and attain new heights of development.
"Unity is our biggest strength... We have to move forward with the mantra of unity, peace and harmony," he asserted at an event marking the 140th birth anniversary of Patel, against the backdrop of protests by artistes, writers and scientists over alleged "rising intolerance" after the Dadri lynching, beef row and other incidents.
Modi also used the occasion to take a dig at dynastic politics, saying it had become a bane of our politics and recalled that Patel never promoted any family member in political life.
At the National Integration Day to mark birth anniversary of India's first Deputy Prime Minister, where Modi flagged off 'run for unity', Modi asked people to take forwards Patel's message that the nation can sacrifice anything for its unity.
"If the country has to move forward and attain new heights of development, then the first guarantee is....Irrespective of our language and attachment of our feelings and ideology to any inspiration or system from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Atak to Cuttuck, if our goal is to take Mother India to new heights in the world, then the first condition for that is unity, peace and harmony.
"If 125 crore Indians with the mantra of unity, peace and harmony walk one step together shoulder to shoulder, then the country will move 125 crore steps in one go.
"Our strength is a nation bound together by unity and which can sacrifice everything for unity and this is the message of Sardar sahab," he said, recalling that Patel's life was dedicated to national unity.
The Prime Minister also announced that 'Ek Bharat Shreshth Bharat' scheme will soon be launched under which one state will choose another state each year and then promote its language and culture. "I have formed a small committee which is preparing its modalities," he said. At the beginning of his speech, Modi also remembered former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary, saying she sacrificed her life on this day and it cannot be forgotten.