After almost a month of announcing such an ambitious event, the ‘Run for Unity’ received an overwhelming response in the city on Sunday morning. Nearly two lakh participants showcased their unity and paid their tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, by participating in the 2.8 km-long run. Surprisingly, the early winter morning did not deter the Amdavadis from running for a different cause.
At 5.30 am, Ashram Road was crowded with participants heading towards the starting point — Vallabh Sadan near the Nehru bridge. Generally, it is said that there should be some motivation for running, but despite no prizes or winners, the response from the participants for the event was huge, which left AMC officials in wonder.
Though majority of the participants were youths, middle-aged people running for a cause was also commendable. A middle-aged man from Sabarmati area, Mohan Joshi said: “I along with my friends participate in every public event. Since such an event was new to the city, we were motivated to participate.” The event also witnessed tight security arrangements, which made it difficult for the BJP corporators to enter the main premises. Some BJP corporators were seen making efforts like showing their identity cards and making phone calls to officials to get an entry into the main premises.
“I’ve never seen such a huge event to mark Sardar Patel’s death anniversary. I’m extremely happy to see such a huge turnout in Ahmedabad and India for such a great personality,” exclaimed senior BJP leader LK Advani, while addressing the participants before the flag-off. He also said that this event isn’t just about marking the death anniversary of a great person, but also about bringing people together through such an event, which Sardar Patel did long back by uniting India.
On the other hand, revenue minister Anandiben Patel announced Rs2.5 crore as prize money for the upcoming essay competition. “In the coming days, a state-level essay competition for school students has been planned and the details for the same will be sent to the schools soon,” added Patel. She also said this is the first time after independence that such a massive campaign has been launched in the country.
The run, which was flagged off by senior BJP leader LK Advani and revenue minister Anandiben Patel saw participants running in the first few lanes, but later the participants were seen walking snail paced waving hands to Advani and other BJP leaders on stage.
Amid lakhs of participants were the differently-abled students of Blind People’s Association (BPA) of the city. Nearly 100 visually impaired students from BPA participated in the run, which was appreciated by all. “Through this, we want to show our support and want to show that if the entire city can participate, why not these children,” said Bhushan Punani, executive director, BPA.
Interestingly, though many started off the run with a bang, after a few metres many were seen getting on the footpath and clicking pictures with friends. Out of the participants dna talked to, one youth, Abhijit Vaidya, a third year BCom student in Gujarat University, said: “I tried both, running and walking, to complete the route, but there just isn’t any space to move ahead due to a large number of participants. So, I stopped mid-way and stood aside.”