Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary: Nation remembers its father, salutes his indomitable spirittext_fields
New Delhi: An outpouring of tributes, marches and commemorative events marked the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Wednesday, and parties jostled to capitalise on the legacy of the man whose ideas and ideals were instrumental in shaping India's freedom struggle and post-Independence journey.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying rich tributes to the father of the nation at his memorial in Rajghat.
While BJP president Amit Shah led the BJP's 'Sankalp Yatra' in the capital to mark Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary, Rahul Gandhi took out the Congress' 'Gandhi Sandesh Yatra'.
Numerous events were organised by various government departments, ministries and voluntary organisations to celebrate life and legacy of Gandhi, who besides leading the freedom struggle also inspired millions of people across the globe, including leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr and the Dalai Lama.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, BJP veteran L K Advani, Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Hardeep Singh Puri, and BJP working president J P Nadda were among those who paid floral tributes to the father of the nation.
Taking to Twitter, the prime minister said the nation expresses its gratitude to Gandhi for his everlasting contribution to humanity.
"We pledge to continue working hard to realise his dreams and create a better planet," Modi wrote on Twitter.
In a short video on Gandhi, Modi said his message of peace is still relevant to the world community.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter, "On his 150th Jayanti, my tributes to Mahatma Gandhi Ji, the 'Father of the Nation', who through his words & deeds, showed us that love for all living beings & non violence is the only way to defeat oppression, bigotry & hatred." A host of leaders including Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, BJP veteran L K Advani, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in the Central Hall of Parliament.
The celebrations also appeared to be a game of one-upmanship between the Congress and the BJP with both organising marches across the country in their bid to cash in on his legacy.
Addressing a rally at the start of the 'Sankalp Yatra', Shah gave a clarion call to shun single-use plastic and urged citizens to take an initiative to make this a mass movement.
The Congress' 'Gandhi Sandesh Yatra' began from the Delhi Congress office Rajiv Bhavan at Deendayal Upadhyay Marg headed to Rajghat, about three kilometres away, with enthusiastic party workers waving flags and chanting the slogan 'Mahatma Gandhi Amar Rahein'.
Many youth sported Gandhi's trademark spectacles and dhoti and walked with sticks in the march. A tableau of Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram and his iconic wooden spinning wheel was also part of the march.
The march will conclude with an oath to be administered to workers and leaders by party president Sonia Gandhi at Rajghat.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to participate in a foot march in Lucknow to commemorate the Mahatma's 150th birth anniversary.