Prez pays tribute to Gandhi, Shastri on birth anniversary

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New Delhi, Oct 2 (UNI) President Pratibha Patil today led the nation in paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on their birth anniversaries.

Ms Patil, Vice-President Mohd Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Opposition L K Advani, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Defence Minister A K Antony, Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were among those who paid floral tributes to the Father of the Nation at Rajghat on his 139th birth anniversary.

Various functions were organised in the national capital to mark the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti also declared as 'International Non-Violence Day'.

An all religion prayer meeting was held at Rajghat and roads leading to the 'samadhi' were flower bedecked for the occasion.

Also, to mark the day, several leprosy-affected persons (LAPs) gathered at the Shram Shakti Bhawan office of Union Minister of State for Labour Oscar Fernandes and disacussed Bapu's contribution to society and the cause of leprosy.

On Shastri's 104th birth anniversary, the President, Vice-President Mohd Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, leader of Opposition L K Advani and Home Minister Shivraj Patil were among dignitaries who visited his 'samadhi' at Vijay Ghat.

A prayer meet and Gita recital programme was also held there to mark the occasion where excerpts of the late PM's speeches, relevant in today's context, were played.

Later, the President also gave the 'Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academics and Management 2008' to Metro man Dr E Sreedharan at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, along with several leaders, offered floral tributes to Shastriji's potrait in the Central Hall of Parliament, where a booklet describing the late prime minister's profile was distributed.

UNI AN SB KP2033

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