Now, marathon to drum up support for Statue of Unity

To garner support for the Statue of Unity project, the trust set up to execute the project, led by BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, plans to host "Run for Unity" on December 15, the death anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The run is likely to be held at 562 places, the number being that of the princely states Patel integrated into the Indian union in 1947.

In fact, the Vadodara International Marathon 2013, which was scheduled to be held on December 1, has now been postponed to December 15. The decision was taken by the Vadodara Marathon directors late on Monday, citing "clearance issues". However, the presence of Modi at the event seems to be the prime reason for the change of date.

Apart from the approval for a full marathon by the Association of International Marathons, the managing committee also wanted to ensure the presence of Ethiopian runners who were facing a hurdle in getting visas to India during the first week of December. "The runners are an important part of Vadodara Marathon. If they are not present, the flair will be gone. The change of date will ensure their presence," says a member.

The Vadodara Marathon has also got a confirmation from the office of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised to be present for the event, like the previous editions. "Modi is likely to be in the city during the Vadodara Marathon if nothing pressing comes up and he will certainly flag off the 2014 campaign for the city unit here," says a party source. The Vadodara Marathon was launched by ace athlete P T Usha.

An official of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust said, "Run for Unity, involving various local organisations, will be held at every taluka and city in Gujarat." The trust is building the Statue of Unity at Sadhu Island, 3.2 km from Sardar Sarovar Dam in Kevadia Colony. "The efforts are also on to organise it outside the state on the same day on December 15," he added.

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