NEW DELHI, Oct 2 - His writings, his spoken words and vignettes from his life � Mahatma Gandhi was the refrain in the farthest corners of India on his 150th birth anniversary on Wednesday as tributes poured in and parties jostled to stake claim on his legacy.
From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and from schools big and small to the beaches of Dandi, there were multiple odes to the man whose ideas and ideals were instrumental in shaping India�s freedom struggle and post-Independence journey.
An outpouring of tributes, marches and commemorative events marked the day that saw customary ceremony and grandstanding but also genuine remembrance of the Mahatma and efforts to understand his profound contribution to society.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying rich tributes to the father of the nation at his memorial in Rajghat.
Observing that Gandhi envisioned Indian nationalism as one that was never narrow or exclusive, Modi proposed what he called the �Einstein Challenge�.
�How do we ensure the ideals of Gandhi are remembered by future generations? I invite thinkers, entrepreneurs and tech leaders to be at the forefront of spreading Gandhi�s ideas through innovation,� Modi wrote in The New York Times, in an article titled �Why India and the World Need Gandhi�.
�We pledge to continue working hard to realise his dreams and create a better planet,� he said on Twitter, adding that the nation expresses its gratitude to Gandhi for his everlasting contribution to humanity.
Modi also travelled to Gujarat to address a gathering in the Sabarmati Ashram.
The government used the day to stress on cleanliness, the dangers of single-use plastic and the aim of making India open defecation free.
The celebrations appeared to be a game of one-upmanship between the Congress and the BJP with both organising marches, Gandhi�s favourite way of reaching out to the people, in their bid to cash in on his legacy.
BJP president Amit Shah kicked-off a four-month exercise in which party leaders across the country will undertake foot marches and address public events to mark his 150th birth anniversary. Shah asked people to follow Modi�s call to shun single-use plastic saying he is the only Prime Minister who has made cleanliness a mass movement, after Gandhi.
The Congress, which has seen over the years a gradual appropriation of some of its stalwarts by the BJP, launched a counter-drive with party president Sonia Gandhi taking a swipe at the Modi government, saying the Mahatma would have been pained by what has happened in India over the last few years.
In a show of strength, perhaps the first since the Congress� Lok Sabha poll debacle in May, Sonia Gandhi as well as her children, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, were out on the streets accompanied by thousands of party workers.
While Rahul Gandhi led a march of party workers to Rajghat, Sonia Gandhi waited at the memorial to address the workers and Priyanka Gandhi was in Lucknow.
Sonia Gandhi claimed that the Congress was the only one party that followed the path shown by the Mahtama and carried on his legacy. Those who indulge in the politics of falsehood cannot understand his ideals of truth and selfless service, she said.
While the BJP called its march �Sankalp (pledge) Yatra�, the Congress named its march, �Gandhi Sandesh Yatra�.
Numerous events were organised by various government departments, ministries and voluntary organisations to celebrate life and legacy of Gandhi, who also inspired millions of people across the globe, including leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr and the Dalai Lama.
Prayer meetings were organised in numerous places connected with Gandhi. In Gujarat, for instance, school students gathered at Hriday Kunj, Gandhi�s home at the Sabarmati Ashram, to attend an all-faith prayer meet.
A mega cleanliness drive was organised on the sea beach in Dandi, the place associated with the historic �Salt Satyagrah� of 1930. � PTI