New Delhi, Oct 1: Sardar Patel’s secularism was a secularism that was anchored in real genuine Gandhian compassion for all Indians of every religion, caste and background, said Minister of State for Human Resource and Development (HRD) Shashi Tharoor on Thursday.
“We have seen this in 1947 during the riots in Delhi, how he handled the situation of the Muslims who were terrified for their lives. He extended protection as the Home Minister. He put 10,000 Muslims in the Lal Quila and ensured that they are protected there, perhaps because he was afraid that local security forces might be infected by the communal virus,” said Tharoor, while reacting to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s remark that India needs Sardar Patel’s secularism and not vote-bank secularism.
“He brought army troops from Pune and Madras to protect them. He actually went and prayed in Nizamuddin himself to send a signal to the Hindu rioters that you admire me, also respect the fact that I believe these people have a place in our society, they have as much rights here as you do,” said Tharoor, while reacting to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s remark that Indian needs Sardar Patel’s secularism and not vote bank secularism,” he added.
Tharoor said Patel went to Amritsar and pleaded with angry and emotional Hindus and Sikhs not to attack refugees fleeing India to go to Pakistan, but to protect them, and in turn, welcome refugees coming from the other side.
“This is the kind of secularism that Patelji promised and practiced, and this is the kind of secularism that the Congress promises,” he added, while asserting that the opposition’s definition of secularism or vote bank politics is flawed.
Tharoor further said Sardar Patel was a great son of India and the man who did anyone more than anyone else to promote the unity of our country.
“And, I think, it’s a shame that in his name, there should be disunity today. We should be united in our respect for this great man and for the values he stood for. He was a Gandhian, a tremendous devotee of the Mahatma whose guidance he followed on most issues,” he added.
Modi earlier today lauded Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for saying that India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was truly secular.
Modi, however, taunted the Prime Minister for calling Sardar Patel a Congressman.
“I met the PM. He said something very rightly, I am proud of it. I respect the PM for saying that Sardar Patel was a truly secular. We need the Patel kind of secularism and not vote bank politics,” Modi said.
“We built Mahatma’s temple and memorial. Nobody challenged us that Modi you are from BJP why are you building Gandhi who was from Congress. But now they point out why is Modi honouring Patel who is from Congress,” he added.
Modi said the country is bigger than a political party for them.
“We respect Sardar Patel for his achievements, even though he was not from BJP,” he added.
Modi, who addressed a farmers rally in Kevadia (Gujarat) before laying the foundation stone of the Statute of Unity-a 182-metre tall statue of ‘iron man’ Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 138th birth anniversary at Sardar Sarovar Dam site, said this statue will be a symbol of India’s rise.
“I want people from all over the world to see this statue, to see India’s rise. We have to integrate people of India. We have to integrate all powers,” said Modi.
“Our unity is our guarantee for a bright future,” he added.
This statue, which is being constructed at a cost of Rs. 2,074 crore, will be twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in the United States.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Lal Krishna Advani, who represents Gujarat in the Lok Sabha, was the chief guest on the occasion.
The statue is to be built on an island called Sadhu Bet on the river Narmada in Gujarat, the home state of both Sardar Patel and Modi.
The inauguration has been preceded by a war of words between the BJP and Congress over Sardar Patel’s legacy. (ANI)