NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday flagged off the 'Run for Unity' event in Delhi to mark the birth anniversary of India's first deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The 'Run for Unity', which began from the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, saw the participation of a large number of people, including sports personalities, sports enthusiasts and personnel of central police forces among others.
The 1.5-km run in Delhi takes place at the India Gate C-Hexagon-Shah Jahan Road radial.
People wearing white T-shirts and bearing Patel's photo assembled at the national stadium and India Gate roundabout for the run.
Prior to the flag-off, President Ram Nath Kovind, Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal paid floral tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his birth anniversary.
Various programmes are being organised across the country on the 144th birth anniversary of Patel today.
For the special occasion, Delhi Metro services also began early at 4 am today in order to facilitate people participating in the 'Run for Unity' event.
Prime Minister Modi paid tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at the Statue of Unity in Gujarat's Kevadia.
Since 2014, October 31 is observed as National Unity Day and people from all walks of life participate in the Run for Unity.
Prime Minister Modi is also expected to participate at the Ekta Diwas Parade, visit the Technology Demonstration Site and later interact with Civil Service Probationers at Kevadia.
In his 'Mann Ki Baat' programme on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi had urged people to participate in large numbers in the 'Run for Unity'.
"Friends, as you know that October 31 every year since 2014 has been celebrated as 'National Unity Day'. This day imparts the message to protect the unity, integrity and security of our country at any cost. On October 31, this year too 'Run for Unity' is being organised like the previous years. 'Run for Unity' is a symbol of unison, that the nation being united, is moving in one direction and collectively aims for- One goal! Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat," he said.
The Prime Minister said that 'Run for Unity' is an event which is beneficial for the mind, body and soul.
"During 'Run for Unity' not only do we have to run, but in doing so the spirit of Fit India is also reflected. We also find ourselves connected with Ek Bharat- Shrestha Bharat! And so, not just our body, but our mind and value system get integrated with ushering unity in India to take India to loftier heights," he said.
(With PTI inputs)