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The Congress-led Meghalaya government has done a balancing act. It ‘served’ the Centre and the party high command at the same time by observing the Rashtriya Ekta Divas or National Unity Day and the Rashtriya Sankalp Divas National Re-dedication Day on the same platform. While the BJP-led state governments in the country showed maximum enthusiasm in celebrating the birthday of the Iron Man of the country, the Congress-led ones were caught in a dilemma. The latter were duty bound to abide by the newly-formed Central government’s decision to observe the ‘National Unity Day’. At the same time, they had to take care that the name of Indira Gandhi, whose death anniversary is observed as Sankalp Divas, is not eclipsed by Sardar Patel, whose contribution is allegedly neglected by Indian history.

Sardar Patel is known to be the main man behind uniting over 550 princely states into one Bharat or India, after end of the 400-year British rule in the country. He accomplished a mammoth task, believed to be nobody’s cup of tea then, not even of Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru. The independent India’s first home minister has been rated much above Nehru by many political observers over the years. They openly expressed that had Patel been the country’s first Prime Minister, as he should have been, India would have been in a much advanced position by now. Skeptics would say the Narendra Modi led NDA government has played politics by promoting Patel over Indira Gandhi. Even if it did, Patel is not an undeserving person to be given credit for the country’s much-touted “unity among diversity” slogan and hence his birth anniversary be observed as Ekta Divas. In fact, it would take one a lot of time to find reasons behind observing Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary as ‘National Integration Day’.

People of India, who have no dearth of festivals to observe at home and the community, are almost overburdened by the ‘Day’s announced by successive governments. Many of them are in the name of every deceased member of the Gandhi family. As if, the Days are observed just for the sake of pleasing one dynasty. Unlike the Independence Day or Republic Day, these Days can hardly connect to people’s emotions. Observing such days by merely organising a run of schoolchildren and issuing big advertisements in newspapers does not serve any purpose. For a change, the Ekta Divas advertisement had only Sardar Patel in the picture and not any minister of NDA government, unlike the trend during UPA tenure.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on November 1, 2014)