The Centre is banking on paramilitary forces and Delhi Police to crowd a pet event of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, hoping that security personnel will make up for a possible lack of public participation the morning after Diwali.
The BJP-led government has been celebrating the birth anniversary of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on October 31 as Ekta Divas, marked by the Run for Unity to showcase the country’s solidarity.
The home ministry will “arrange” 5,000 central armed police forces personnel for the run, records of a meeting between different central departments show.
Similarly, Delhi police will “arrange 1,000 police personnel” at 7 am, apart from traffic and security management and distribution of 4,000 T-shirts to the participants.
The event was launched in 2014 by Modi.
The celebrations had earlier led to a spat between the Congress and the BJP over allegations of the ruling party’s attempts to appropriate India’s national icons.
The Congress also accused the Modi government of trying to undermine the legacy of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated the same day in 1984. Till the BJP came to power at the Centre, the day was primarily observed as martyrdom day.
Sources involved in the event’s preparations said that it could be tough to organise the event due to Diwali.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) wanted to hold a marathon apart from the Run for Unity. But it was asked to “re-examine their proposal for its feasibility in the view of October 31 being a working day and Diwali falling on October 30”, a source said.
SAI has also been asked to get 1,000 athletes while the higher and technical education department of the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi has been requested to bring “2,000 students from colleges for the Run For Unity,” according to the note from the meeting.