Sardar Patel's 142nd birth anniversary on Tuesday saw the Congress and BJP again sparring over his legacy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Congress of sidelining Patel while the party quoted Patel's remarks against the RSS following Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.
Flagging off the 'Run for Unity' in New Delhi to commemorate Sardar Patel's birth anniversary, Modi said, "People earlier tried their best to ensure that the contribution of Sardar Patel was forgotten and diminished."
"But when the nation gave us a chance to serve it, we made it a point to celebrate Sardar Patel's legacy in a special way so that his works and contributions are remembered by generations after generations," Modi added.
The Congress, while remembering Patel, quoted his remarks against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the wake of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination by Nathuram Godse, who was a former active RSS member and known to be close to RSS ideologue V.D. Savarkar.
The Congress tweeted a picture of Patel and his remarks against RSS: "The speeches of the Sangh (RSS) leaders are poisonous. It is as a result of this venom that Mahatma Gandhi has been assassinated."
Patel, as the then Home Minister, had banned the RSS after Gandhi's assassination.
"Remembering Iron Leader Sardar Patel, whose uncompromising efforts were instrumental in keeping India united after Independence," the Congress tweeted on its official handle.
In another tweet, the Congress quoted Patel's another remark he made after Gandhi's death: "The activities of RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the government and state."
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, in his tribute to Patel said: "An embodiment of integrity and strength, Sardar Patel was one of the architects of the Idea of India. My tributes to him on his birth anniversary."
Patel's birthday, October 31, also happens to be the day when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards.
The Congress observed the day with large advertisements in newspapers and the top party brass paid floral tributes to Indira Gandhi at her memorial and her samadhi known as Shakti Sthal.
On Tuesday, in his address before flagging off the run, Modi did mention that October 31 is also the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi, but did not elaborate.
Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of Independent India, is also called 'The Iron Man of India' for his grit and resolve. He played a key role in merging hundreds of small princely states into the Union of India after the British left.