By Prashant Sood
New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Sardar Patel’s photographs were visible all over Rajpath on Saturday as thousands of people enthusiastically took part in the Run for Unity wearing T-shirts carrying his image.
People arrived at Rajpath early from in and around Delhi to take part in the run, which was Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off to mark birth anniversary of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
There were students, fitness freaks, runners, sports officials, para military personnel in t-shirts and track pants, political workers, senior citizens, housewives, employees, shopkeepers and businessmen. Some students had come from as far as Murthal and Manesar in Haryana.
Many of the participants were wearing T-shirts carrying photograph of Sardar Patel. Many others were wearing T-shirts carrying the Run for Unity logo. Janpath was also lined with hoardings carrying photograph of Sardar Patel. There were slogans like Anekta me ekta, Bharat ki viseshta (Unity in diversity is quality of India).
The main stage had two photographs – one of Sardar Patel and the other of Modi.
Well-known athlete Anju Bobby George and wrestler Satpal handed over the flag to Modi who then flagged off the run which saw large participation of youth including women. Modi, sporting a white kurta with a half-jacket, waved to people as they went past the dais. People moved slowly near the dais as they took pictures of prime minister waving to them.
Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, who was wearing a T-shirt, joined people in the run. Others on the dais included Home Minster Rajnath Singh, Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Some students had woken up well before 4 am at their homes in cities adjoining Delhi to make to the Rajpath in time and they were happy for it.
Manjot Singh, a student of Kendriya Vidayalaya, Manesar, said he got up very early to take the bus that his school had arranged to reach Rajpath.
I am feeling happy seeing the atmosphere here, Singh said.
Jyoti Raj, a programme officer of National Service Scheme who came to Rajpath along with 50 students from Tau Devi Lal Government College for Women, Murthal, said such events help foster feelings of oneness.
Whatever we do together, it brings oneness. When you are together for a cause, it becomes bigger, she said.
Raj, who teaches in the Murthal college, said the event had evoked patriotic fervour among students like that on the Independence Day and Republic Day.
Our students come from rural areas and we made arrangements for stay of some of them in the college yesterday as we had to start early in the morning. Such events help foster patriotic feelings at a time when people are getting increasingly busy with their own lives, she said. Murthal is about 50 km from Delhi.
Ravi Kumar, a student who is also a long-distance runner, said he had cycled from Kalyanpuri in east Delhi.
I like to take part in such events. It gives feeling of togetherness, he said.
Many of those who came took early morning rides in the metro.
Kewal Krishan Mehta, an elderly businessman from Adarsh Nagar, said one should take part in events that are held in memory of leaders who made sacrifices for the country.
Jitender, a student from an Industrial Training Institute in Delhi, said he got a chance to see the prime minister. The gathering also had Bharatiya Janata Party workers.
Run For Unity was held at Rajpath last year also.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at [email protected])