AHMEDABAD: In a vieled attack on Congress in front of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the country’s destiny would have been different if Sardar Patel had become the first Prime Minister.

Sharing dais with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here for the opening ceremony of Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Smruti Smarak, he credited Patel, the first home minister, with uniting the country and said the same unity and integrity was under threat from terrorism andMaoism at present.

“Every Indian still regrets that he (Patel) did not become the first Prime Minister. Had he been the first Prime Minister, the country’s destiny would have been different,” he said in comments that may be seen as an attack on Nehru.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate was speaking at a function to inaugurate a museum dedicated to Sardar Patel, who was born in Gujarat.

Invoking Patel, Modi said the first home minister was instrumental in uniting the country after Independence.

“That unity and integrity of the country today is under threat from all fronts, be it terrorism or Maoism,” he said, adding Singh himself had said that maoism is a great threat to the country.

Referring to those who have resorted to terrorism and Maoism, Modi said they were causing the biggest harm to their own communities and appealed to the “misguided” youth to shun violence and return to the mainstream for the country’s development.

Citing the example of Punjab, he asserted that those resorting to violence would not succeed in the country of Mahatma Gandhi and Patel.

“I want to tell the misguided youth who resort to bombs and guns that they cannot succeed in the land of Gandhi and Sardar (Patel). They cause harm to the country. But the biggest harm is caused to their own communities,” he said.

Reading from a prepared speech, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “Sardar Patel was a secular leader and I represent the same party that he belonged to.”

PM seems to question Modi’s claim on Patel

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday appeared to question Narendra Modi’s claim on Sardar Patel’s legacy as he said the late leader was secular and liberal, having respect for those having a different ideology.

Singh, while sharing dais with the Gujarat chief minister here, underlined that Patel was a Congressman and he was proud to be a member of the same political party he was associated with.

“Sardar Patel was secular to the core. He had a deep faith in the integrity of India. He believed that the whole country was a village and people of all communities here were his relatives and friends,” he said at a function to inaugurate a museum on the first home minister.

The Prime Minister said it was responsibility of everyone to appropriately make aware the people of the country, particularly the youth, about Patel’s contributions.

“(Mahatma) Gandhi, (Jawaharlal) Nehru and Sardar Patel and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad had a strong faith in the country’s unity. They had secular and liberal approach, sympathetic towards the poor. They were tolerant and respected different ideologies,” he said here.

“All those present here will agree that those were such ideals which are lacking in the country today,” he said.

Talking about the relationship between Nehru and Patel, Singh said there has been a mention a number of times about their differences. “However, the two leaders agreed on majority of issues and both agreed with each other’s views.”

Hailing Patel, Singh said the first home minister had brought together 500 provinces to build India.

source: times of india