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Pride of place:Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the Kartavya Path as part of the revamped Central Vista in New Delhi on Thursday.SUSHIL KUMAR VERMASUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Rajpath, which was a “symbol of slavery”, has been erased forever, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, while inaugurating the redeveloped two-kilometre stretch from India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhavan that was renamed Kartavya Path.

Mr. Modi also unveiled a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose under the canopy at India Gate that during British rule had a statue of King George V.

Addressing the gathering in front of India Gate, Mr. Modi said: “Today, we are filling the picture of tomorrow with new colours, leaving behind the past. Today, this new aura is visible everywhere, it is the aura of confidence of new India. Kingsway, that is, Rajpath, the symbol of slavery, has become a matter of history from today and has been erased forever. Today, a new history has been created in the form of ‘Kartavya Path’. I congratulate all the countrymen for their freedom from yet another identity of slavery, in this Amrit Kaal of Independence.”

Known as Kingsway before Independence and Rajpath since 1947, the stretch was renamed as Kartavya Path or “duty road” by the New Delhi Municipal Council on Wednesday. The stretch from India Gate till Rashtrapati Bhavan has been closed to the public since January 2021 for redevelopment works as a part of the larger Central Vista revamp. The Rs. 477 crore project became the first of the Central Vista projects to be completed and opened to the public with the inauguration.

Speaking about the the 28-foot granite statue of Bose, Mr. Modi said: “At the time of slavery, there was a statue of the representative of the British Raj. Today, the country has also brought to life a modern, strong India by establishing the statue of Netaji at the same place.”

Mr. Modi said “Subhas babu ” was proud of India’s heritage, while wanting to make India modern. He said if India had followed his path after Independence, the country would have been at great heights today. “But unfortunately, this great hero of ours was forgotten after Independence. His ideas, even the symbols associated with them, were ignored,” he said.

“Today when the Rajpath ceases to exist and has become a Kartavya Path; today when the statue of Netaji has replaced the mark of the statue of George V, then this is not the first example of the abandonment of slavery mentality. This is neither the beginning nor the end. It is a continuous journey of determination till the goal of freedom of mind and spirit is achieved,” Mr. Modi said.

Before inaugurating the stretch, Mr. Modi interacted with workers who had been associated with the project and invited them to attend the Republic Day Parade next year as his special guests, he said.

Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Kartavya Path project had been the biggest “transformational project” in the country.

The revamped stretch has dedicated vending zones for street vendors, replacing the earlier custom of vendors lining up along the road.

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