Prime Minister Narendra Modi who turned 69 on Tuesday (September 17) began his day with a visit to the Statue of Unity and the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river Narmada in his home state of Gujarat. The prime minister also kicked off the ‘Namame Narmade’ festival near the dam later.
Modi had inaugurated the Statue of Unity, billed as the tallest in the world, on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31 last year. There were reports that he filmed a video of the Statue of Unity from his helicopter.
Much like the rest of his days, Modi had a busy schedule on his birthday. Earlier in the day, he arrived at Kevadiya to take part in the Namami Narmada festival being celebrated by the Gujarat government to mark the filling up of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river to its full reservoir level of 138.68 metres. For the first time since the height of the dam was raised in 2017, the water level reached its highest peak at 138.68 metres on Sunday evening.
On a visit to his home state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, offered prayers to goddess Narmada at the Sardar Sarovar dam.
The PM then addressed a gathering near the dam. He lauded the vision of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, adding that the BJP-led government’s decision last month on Jammu and Kashmir was “an inspiration” from India’s former home minister.
“The Union government’s decision on Kashmir is inspired by Sardar Patel and is an attempt to find solution to a decades-old problem,” Modi said at the public rally.
The government on August 5 revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The PM also said that the Hyderabad Liberation Day is a result of Sardar Patel’s vision. September 17 marks the day in 1948 when the erstwhile Hyderabad state was merged with the Indian Union.
Modi later visited various developmental projects being carried out near the dam and Statue of Unity to boost tourism. These projects include river rafting, a jungle safari park, a butterfly park and Ekta Nursery, an official said.
Modi also visited the Khalvani Eco-Tourism site. Modi is also expected to visit Dutt Mandir at nearby Garudeshwar village on the banks of Narmada.
Greetings poured in on social media, wishing the prime minister a happy birthday. Several leaders including vice president M Venkaiah Naidu, defence minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president and home minister Amit Shah greeted Modi through tweets.
In his message, Naidu said that the nation is making steady progress under Modi’s able leadership. Shah described Modi as a leader with strong willpower and a symbol of decisive leadership and hard work. “Under your leadership, an emerging India has made a mark in the world as a strong, safe and reliable nation,” Shah tweeted.
Singh said the prime minister has been instrumental in building and strengthening India’s position in the comity of nations. “His visionary leadership has helped India in scaling new heights of glory. I pray for his good health and long life,” the defence ministry tweeted.
Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of Modi’s harshest critics extended her wishes to the prime minister on twitter. “Birthday greetings to Prime Minister @narendramodi ji,”she tweeted.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wished good health and a long life to the prime minister on his birthday.
Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai tweeted, “Your personality is a source of inspiration for all of us.”
The BJP meanwhile has kicked off a ‘Seva Saptah’ (service week) to mark the birthday of the prime minister. As part of the celebrations, the party has plans to undertake social initiatives and organise exhibitions to showcase the social work done by the prime minister, from September 14 to September 20.
(With inputs from agencies)