New Delhi | Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called upon people to finish off forces trying to divide the country with casteism and regionalism, saying Dussehra should also mark the burning of ideologies which are not about India's development but about fulfilling selfish interests.
Addressing a huge gathering at a Dussehra event here, he said the festival should not be confined to the burning of Ravana's effigies and Lord Ram's victory over the demon but also mark the triumph of patriotism over every evil in the country.
The prime minister's comments were an apparent swipe at opposition parties whom he has repeatedly accused of seeking to divide the country in the name of caste and region to draw political mileage.
"We should pledge to end social ills and discrimination," he said, adding that every evil which disturbs the social harmony should be burnt as well.
With the 10-day Durga Puja festival being marked with Ramlila, Modi noted that a grand temple dedicated to Lord Ram is being built in Ayodhya and said it is everyone's good fortune that they are witness to it after a wait of centuries.
The temple will be completed in a few months and it marks the victory of people's patience, he said.
"Bhagawan Shri Ram bas aane hi wale hain (Lord Ram's arrival is imminent)," he said, asserting that prayers at the temple during the next Ramnavmi will spread happiness in the entire world.
The construction of the temple, he said, is happening amid many auspicious developments and cited India's successful lunar mission, inauguration of the new Parliament building and the enactment of women's reservation law.
India is today emerging as the world's largest democracy as well as the most trusted democracy, he said.
As Lord Ram is coming under such auspicious signs, he said after 75 years of independence, India's fortunes are now going to rise.
Modi also asked people to take 10 pledges, including helping at least one poor family to raise its socio-economic status.
The country will become a developed nation when everyone is developed, he said.
"As long as there is even a single poor person in the country who does not have basic facilities, we will not rest," he said.
The other causes he mentioned included saving water, digital transactions, cleanliness, vocal for local, quality work, domestic tourism, natural farming, consumption of millets and fitness.
Vijaydashami is a festival of victory of justice over injustice, of humility over arrogance and patience over anger, Modi said, adding that it is also a day of renewing pledges.
Referring to the tradition of "shastra pooja" (worshipping weapons) tradition on this day, he said weapons in India are not used for annexation but for the defence of one's territory.
He emphasised on the eternal as well as modern aspects of Indian philosophy. "We know 'maryada' of Lord Ram as well as also how to defend our borders," he said.