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Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter on Tuesday to pay tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his death anniversary describing him as the "iron man" who laid the foundation of a strong and prosperous India.

The path shown by him will always inspire us to protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country, he said in a tweet.

Patel, a freedom fighter who became India's first home minister and deputy prime minister, is credited with unifying hundreds of princely states with the Union of India following independence through a mix of persuasion, dialogue and even use of force when required.

The prime minister has often expressed his deep admiration and respect for him and has been the brain behind the Statue of Unity project in Gujarat, a tribute to Patel who had passed away in 1950.

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