Ahmedabad: This evening, the Prime Minister will share top honours in Ahmedabad with the man who is hoping to replace him in office, Narendra Modi. The leaders will appear together to inaugurate a museum dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the iconic Gujarat leader who served as India’s first Home Minister.
Today’s event comes as the PM’s Congress and Mr Modi’s BJP are battling over the legacy of Sardar Patel.
The dispute peaked with a newspaper reporting on Sunday that in an interview, Mr Modi said India’s first prime minister and Congress leader Jawarhalal Nehru did not attend Sardar Patel’s funeral in Mumbai in 1950.
In a tweet this morning, Mr Modi ‘thanked’ the newspaper for clarifying that the statement was wrongly attributed to him. The newspaper today said it regretted that what was published was “not an official interview” of Mr Modi.
The clarification comes after Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted archive videos that show Nehru in the funeral procession for Sardar Patel. “Modi must issue a public apology! Feku at his best,” Mr Singh tweeted on Friday.
The controversy is still ticking. Today, union minister Manish Tewari said that Sardar Patel had in a letter in 1948, linked the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in January that year to the communal politics of the BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or RSS.
Mr Tewari said, “I want to ask the BJP or their newly anointed pretender – do they endorse or agree with the views of Sardar Patel with regard to the RSS or if not, as the chief minister of the Gujarat or possibly as a swayamsevak?”
Mr Modi has committed to building a statue of Sardar Patel – he says it will be the world’s tallest – right in the middle of the Narmada River in Gujarat.
The Congress says the BJP is trying to claim a lifelong Congressman as its own.