Some Less Known Facts About Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel
Beginning 31 October, the nation will be celebration the 141th Jayanti of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who for his extraordinary historic work of integrating over 500 Princely states into the Republic of India is held to be superior to Otto Von Bismark who integrated over 20 German principalities, dukedoms and kingdoms into the modern German State. It is quite well known that after Gandhiji’s and Sardar Patel’s death, Jawaharlal Nehru not only dominated the Indian Congress and Indian Nation but also saw to it that the contribution of Sardar Patel, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and other stalwarts of India’s struggle for freedom are relegated to almost oblivion.
2. It is only in the past few years with the decline of the dominance of Sonia Maino- led Congress that the nation is recalling the great deeds of persons like Sardar Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose besides those of Pt. Madan Mohan Malavya, Lala Lajpati Rai and Balagangadhar Tilak. We do well to recall some great deeds of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel on this 141th Jayanti which is being celebrated as Ekta Saptah.
3. Junagarh with 85% Hindu population and 15% Muslims & others had a Muslim ruler. On 15 Aug 1947 he acceded his state to Pakistan. The people rose in revolt. They had the support of Sardar Patel and the rest of India. Mountbatten advised Sardar Patel to take Junagarh case to the UN Security Council. The Sardar, ( unlike Nehru in regard to Kashmir) rejected Mountbatten’s advice. The Nawab fled. The revolting people established a provisional government and later in Feb 1949 conducted a plebiscite, the result of which was unconditional accession to India and merger with Saurashtra. Soon after the flight of the Nawab and takeover of Junagarh by India’s Commissioner in Rajkot, Sardar Patel, K.M Munshi and N.V Gandgil visited Junagarh in November 1947. They went to Dwaraka, where the temple of Somnatha was five times destroyed and four times reconstructed. The last destruction was during Aurangzeb’s rule when it was also converted into a mosque.
Sardar Patel, the Dy Prime Minister of India declared that the government has decided to reconstruct the Somnath temple. Nehru could not oppose . Gandhiiji wanted that the cost of re-construction should not be borne by the government but by peoples’ contributions. Sardar Patel died before the construction was completed and the Linga re-installed. His decision could not be flouted by Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru objected to President Rajendra Prasad’s visit to Somnath for the consecration ceremony. Rajendra Prasad dis-regarded Nehru’s advice . The Somnath shrine was rebuilt in all its glory due to Sardar’s resolve in vindication of free India’s will to wipe out the humiliation that invader rulers inflicted upon this country. It is as well to recall that Babur was not an Indian . He was not buried in India but in his native land. The Babri masjid in Ayodhya is a parallel to Somnath . While due to Sardar Patel we could rebuild the Somnath , under the rule of Nehru Dynasty and its continuance by a foreigner, the non-reconstruction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is a humiliating issue for our country - men.
4. Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer, the Diwan of Travancore was wanting his state to be independent and not accede to India or Pakistan. Sardar Patel was told that the Maharaja was holding Lord Padmanabaha’s territory in Trust and therefore the Lord’s independence could not be surrendered to anybody. Sardar Patel then asked, “ how then did you allow Lord Padmanabha to be subordinate to the British ?” Sir C.P was removed as Diwan; the maharaja acceded his state to India. Patel wanted to send Sir C.P as Ambassador to the USA to utilise his great talents. Nehru vetoed and sent his relative instead . Sir C P proposed that since 98% of Muslims voted for parittion and Pakistan , they should be declared as foreigners. Nehru did not agree; Nehru did not also agree to Dr Ambedkar’s proposal for exchange of minorities between Pakistan & Hindustan. So, the Muslim problem in India continues as before 1947.
5. The Nizam of Hyderabad was given the titles as “His Exalted Highness (HEH)” by the British and Faithful Ally of the empire. He contributed large sums for the British war effort during the first and second world wars. While Mountbatten supplementing the efforts of Sardar Patel did his bit to persuade the Indian Princes and Nawabs to unconditionally accede to the Indian Union, he nevertheless wanted not accession but a treaty between the Nizam’s government and India. Whatever agreement was about to be reached in Delhi, was being ultimately rejected by the Nizam under the influence of the notorious Qasim Razvi and his Razakar goondas. At long last, Mountbatten got some agreement which was in the sort of a treaty of alliance and not accession, agreeable to the Nizam. A few days before his departure from India in June 1948, Mountbatten accompanied by Nehru and Sardar Baldev Singh took that agreement to Sardar Patel who was recuperating in Dehradun. Sardar Patel looked at that and rejected it. Mountbatten was dejected and expressed his disappointment and sadness. Despite what all he has done for India, he would be leaving Nizam’s question unsolved. Sardar Patel asked him whether this agreement meant so much to him. Mountbatten said ‘yes’. Then Sardar Patel took back that agreement and put his signature to it. Mountbatten was elated and so was Jawaharlal Nehru. When this was presented to the Nizam, he rejected it. Mountbatten was heartbroken. He left India with the sad thought that he could not get the Nizam and Government of India agree to the “agreement” whose terms he crafted to the personal satisfaction of the Nizam. This incident shows Sardar Patel’s genuine regard for Mountbatten and at the same time, his conviction that the Nizam, under the influence of the Islamists in his state, would not agree and that military action alone would resolve the problem.
6. After the departure of Lord Louis Mountbatten as the Governor General of India in June 1948, Sardar Patel had a free hand to deal with the recalcitrant Nizam of Hyderabad who was dragging his feet, not daring to declare the Hyderaabd state as an independent kingdom nor willing to accede to the Indian Union but wanting a special pact between India and the Nizam as though these two were equal sovereign states. Sardar Patel prevailed over Jawaharlal Nehru to take military action to get the Nizam to heel. The Indian forces were to march into the Hyderabad state from three directions in the early hours of the 14th of September 1948. The commander -in -chief of India’s armed forces, General Sir (Francis Robert) Roy Bucher, a British man rang up Jawaharlal Nehru to postpone the march as Pakistan was in mourning over the death of Md Ali Jinnah on the 9th of Sept . Nehru asked the C- in -C to speak to Sardar Patel. Patel was woken up in the mid night and told that Pakistan was in mourning and the Nizma’s airforce positioned in Karachi would be bombing Bombay, Delhi and Ahmadabad. Roy Bucher thought that Sardar would be unwilling to have the cities bombed and that he might respect Pakistan’s sentiments over the death of Md Ali Jinnah. But the iron man said : “Are you serving India or Pakistan ? What has India got to do with Md Ali Jinnah ? Did not London withstand the blitzkrieg, the continuous bombing by Hitler’s Germany during the second world war? Were the British afraid to continue the war because of the bombing and do you think that India, “unlike Britain would be frightened”. These hard and decisive words made Roy Bucher shut up and proceed with the military action against Hyderabad.
7. Kashmir was taken off from Sardar Patel his hands by Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru listened to Mountbatten and took the Kashmir issue to United Nations and that remains an unsolvable problem for India . Nizam also took India’s alleged aggression to the Security Council of the United Nation but before the Security Council could come to grips with any resolution, Sardar Patel finished the Police Action and there is no Hyderabad problem like the Kashmir problem to torment India with thousands of cuts, for a thousand years as vowed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Gen. Zia- ul -Huq.
8. Immediately after partition, millions of Hindus and Sikhs were expelled from Pakistan on pain of death and rape and loot. Those who survived the murderous attacks of the Islamist goondas came to Delhi and were taking refuge in the various mosques and sarais. Jawaharlal Nehru was asking the police to see that the houses vacated by the Muslims of Delhi who left for Pakistan are not occupied by the incoming rush of refugees, Hindus and Sikh from Pakistan hapless, penniless, shivering in the winter cold were taking shelter in the mosques in Delhi. Gandhiji went on a fast (mid January 1948) demanding that the Hindu Sikh refugees must vacate all the mosques and houses vacated by the Muslims who left for Pakistan. Sardar Patel and Rajendra Prasad and other Congress - men were terribly distressed at the plight of the Hindu and Sikh refugees, Gandhiji’s fast and Nehru’s orders that no property of Muslims in Delhi should be occupied by Hindu-Sikh refugees. Sardar Patel, the Home and Dy. Prime Minister, distressed at the stubbornness of Gandhi and Nehru, submitted his resignation from the cabinet. Lord Mountbatten felt that the Government of India could not be run without Sardar Patel. He went to Gandhiji and requested him to prevail upon Sardar Patel to withdraw his resignation and continue in the Cabinet. Gandhiji called for a reconciliation meeting between Nehru and Patel. Patel was to Gandhi like hanuman was to Rama. Gandhiji took a pledge from Sardar Patel that he would not quit the government and that he would continue to be a loyal second to Nehru. Patriotism and the need for effective governance and respect for Gandhiji prevailed and Sardar Patel withdrew his resignation.
9. Sardar Patel was the Chairman of the Minority Sub -committee during the framing of the Constitution of India. Instructed by Abdul Kalam Azad, the former Muslim Leaguers who on the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru joined the Congress and the nationalist Muslim members of Congress proposed that separate electorate and weighted reservations for Muslims which the British gave, should be continued and that Sharia courts should be established to deal with legal matters pertaining to Muslims . Sardar Patel saw this as a sinister continuation of the two-nation theory mentality even after the tragic partition to create the Islamic state of Pakistan as a national home for the sub-continent’s Muslims. He worked upon a few Muslim members, particularly Begum Aizaz Rasul who was formerly a Muslim League leader in the UP Legislative Assembly to forcefully denounce these proposals. The Sardar very deftly got the committee to reject the separate electorate and reservations for Muslims in the Indian Constitution.
10. At a meeting of over 70,000 Muslims attended by Abul Kalam Azad in Lucknow in December 1948, pre-independence Muslim League’s demands were again aired. In January 1949 in Lucknow and following it in February 1949 in Hyderabad, Sardar Patel clearly told the Muslims who chose to stay in India after partition, that they should be totally loyal to India and should not ride two horses; that is, continue to cherish and flaunt and promote Pakistaniat among Muslim residents of India. This is in contrast to Jawaharlal Nehru interpreting secularism as special care for Muslims and as a, first step, for which, he himself moved a bill in the Parliament of India to subsidise Muslims religious Haj pilgrimage to Mecca and several other appeasement measures.
11. In September 1950, the Congress party’s president was to be elected. Jawaharlal Nehru proposed and backed up Acharya Kripalani. Sardar Patel put up Purushottam Das Tandon. Tandon (Patel) defeated Kripalani (Nehru) by 1306 to 1022 votes. Patel died on 15 December 1950. Nehru then forced Tandon to resign and assumed the Presidentship himself. (Indira Gandhi repeated Nehru’s performance in 1969 when she split the Congress to establish her hegemony over the Party and hand it over to her progeny as inheritance)
12. Mountbatten’s preference for Patel to Nehru to head the newly created States Ministry was for good reasons. He wrote: “I am glad to say that Nehru has not been put in charge of the new State’s Department which would have wrecked everything ...“. Patel is essentially a realist and very sensible”. He told the Princes that “the States Department was under the admirable guidance of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel”. Mountbatten thought that Patel was the strongest pillar of the cabinet.
13. After the first meeting of the Cabinet of the Interim Government on the 4 Sept 1947, the Governor General and Vice Roy, Wavell recorded of the Congress ministers, “ I do not trust by a yard ....... Sardar Patel was very reasonable and sensible in his arguments unlike Jinnah and he is certainly the most impressive of the Congress leaders and has the best balance”.
14. When it was decided that a memorial should be raised to the Sardar, Nehru suggested digging of wells and small rural development schemes in the name of Sardar Patel. The Committee and Congressmen were shocked at Nehru’s pettimindedness and disregarding him, installed his statue at the Parliament House in Delhi. (2,247 words)