New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called upon the people to make India a "powerful and strong nation" even as he cautioned them against divisive forces.
Modi paid rich tributes Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel while speaking at a function to mark India's first home minister's birth anniversary, which is celebrated as 'Rashtriya Ekta Diwas'.
"When we travel by train from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we do not need any visa or permit, we do not pay any tax when we pass through all the states that fall on the route. It is because of one man, Sardar Patel, who united all states of this country. Patel united this country with his political will," Modi said before flagging of the 'Run for Unity'.
"Don't you think that India should be more powerful and strong? The first condition for that to happen is 'unity'. There should be no discrimination on the basis of caste or creed, village and city," Modi said.
He asked the people to be vigilant against elements trying to divide the society.
The Prime Minister said he was dedicating to the nation a digital museum in the national capital in the memory of Patel, who will always be remembered as an 'Iron man'.
"It should have been built 40-50 years ago. The history will ask the question why it was not built before."
He also administered the oath of unity to thousands of children who had gathered at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium for the Run for Unity.
In his address, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, said India would have been different had Patel been its first Prime Minister.
"Today we need more leaders like Sardar Patel and I see all his traits in our Prime Minister Modi," he said.
Modi flagged off the run together with veteran weightlifter N Kunjarani Devi and Rio Paralympics gold medal winner Devendra Jhajaria.