New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday outlined a new scheme "Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat" (one India, best India) on the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in which two States would form a partnership for a period of one year.
Flagging off the 'Run for Unity' at the Rajpath here, Modi took a dig at "nepotism" in politics and said Sardar Patel's life showed how influential connections were not necessary to gain entry into the political arena.
Modi also administered a national unity pledge to the thousands of people, which included school and college students, paramilitary force personnel, and people residing in and around Delhi, who had gathered at the Rajpath since early morning.
He said the Britishers wanted to divide the country and cause clashes among princely states but Sardar Patel united the country in those circumstances.
"Sardar Patel showed political dexterity. It was difficult to convince princely States but he did it. Chanakya had sought to unite the country. Later, it was Sardar Patel who tried to unite the country," Modi said.
Outlining the new scheme "Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat", Modi said the government was working on it in consultation with the States and had formed a committee to work out its modalities.
He said under the scheme, two States would undertake a unique partnership for one year which would be marked by cultural and student exchanges.
He said people of a State in partnership should travel to the other State and students should learn its songs.
Modi said Sardar Patel had given us "Ek Bharat" and it was now up to us to make it "Shresth Bharat".
The prime minister recalled Sardar Patel's initiatives as mayor of Ahmedabad during the 1920s, including a campaign for cleanliness and a proposal for 50 percent reservation for women.
Modi also paid tribute to former prime minister Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary.
Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu, Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were among those present at the event.
(With inputs from IANS)