New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Rathore flagged off the ‘Run for Unity’ in the national capital on Wednesday amid loud cheers of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
Nearly 12,000 people are said to be taking part in the marathon in New Delhi, including 3,000 school children, 300 ex-servicemen and a number of senior citizens, despite the thick haze that has engulfed the region. Enthusiastic participants were seen taking part in the marathon, which is being organised as a mark of celebrating the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Speaking to ANI, one of the participants said participating in the marathon was a way of paying respects to Sardar Patel, who sacrificed a lot for the nation.
Furthermore, two women Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, who were also participating in the marathon, opined that the marathon is not only a way of displaying unity, but also encourages fitness. Prior to the commencement of the marathon, Rajnath Singh took a pledge along with the participants to follow the path laid out by Sardar Patel and maintain unity in the nation. “Sardar Patel has and will always be seen as a symbol of unity,” he added.
Apart from the Home Minister and the Sports Minister, ace gymnast Dipa Karmakar and weightlifter Karnam Malleswari were also present at the event. In Odisha, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was seen participating in the marathon in Bhubaneswar, while Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flagged off and participated in the ‘Run For Unity’ in Chennai. Meanwhile, Union Health Minister JP Nadda and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal flagged off the marathon in Guwahati.
October 31 is observed as National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas every year to coincide with the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel. The ‘Run for Unity’ for inaugurated last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This year, Prime Minister Modi will be inaugurating a 182-metre long statue that has been constructed as a mark of respect to the first home minister of India. The ‘Statue of Unity’, which is located in Gujarat’s Sadhu-Bet Island, occupies over 20,000 square meters and is surrounded by a 12 square kilometre artificial lake.