Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi flagged off 'Run for Unity', which seeks to drum up support for his pet 'Statue of Unity' project, on the 63rd death anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Vadodara on Sunday morning.
The run is being held simultaneously in 1,100 places across the country.
"This run is being organised with a determination to unite the people, unite the villages and unite the nation," Modi said, adding that it was about "patriotism".
"This is an effort to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of all Indians. Please do not view it from prism of politics," he said.
Senior BJP leader LK Advani flagged off the run in Ahmedabad. He said the event was a true tribute to Patel and praised the people for turning up in large numbers.
While in Vadodara, Modi said, "Gujarat has moved ahead due to spirit of peace, unity and 'sad-bhavana'."
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh targetted Narendra Modi and said it was an irony that "a man running away from unity was asking you to run for unity".
In a tweet, Digvijay referred to Modi's alleged complicity in facilitating 2002 Gujarat riots, his divisive image and the allegation that BJP MLAs accused in connection with recent Muzaffarnagar riots were felicitated by him.
Gujarat government is building a gigantic statue of Sardar Patel – 'Statue of Unity' – which it claims would be the world's tallest statue – on Sadhu Bet in Narmada river.
The run will also start a campaign for collection of iron from all over the country for the statue.
It is being organised simultaneously in 1,100 places, and lakhs of people are expected to participate.