President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday exhorted the people to perform the "sacred act" of voting, emphasising this year's polls should be seen as a "once-in-a-century moment" that will shape the India of the remainder of the 21st century.
Observing that an election is not just a political exercise, Kovind said it is a collective call to wisdom and a collective call to action, adding the ideas and idealism of our democracy will come into force to elect the 17th Lok Sabha.
In his customary address to the nation on the eve of the 70th Republic Day, the President said development of the country cannot be completed without a salute to the "spirit of inclusiveness and pluralism which rests on a "tripod of diversity, democracy and development".
"This country belongs to each of us and to all of us – every group and every community, every region and every identity. It belongs to every citizen and every individual. India's pluralism is its greatest strength and its greatest example to the world.
"The 'Indian model' rests on a tripod of diversity, democracy and development. We cannot choose one above the other; we must have all three and we will have all three," he said in the address that was telecast and broadcast across the country.
Referring to the general elections that are due before June, the President said it will be the first when voters born in the 21st century will contribute to electing a new Lok Sabha.
The election represents the diverse and singular urges of the people and the Republic of India, he said.
"This makes the very act of voting a sacred act. Please perform this act. Who the voter chooses to vote for is up to him or her, I would only request all eligible voters to go out and vote.
"Our country is at a key juncture. In some respects this is as critical and formative a period as the late 1940s and early 1950s. Decisions and actions of today will shape the India of the remainder of the 21st century. As such, this is not just a once-in-a-generation moment – it is a once-in-a-century moment," he said.