It is next to impossible to imagine the extent of the latest remarks of the Congress, that state that the Iron Man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was a close companion of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and was in accordance and even supported the notion of handing Jammu and Kashmir over to Pakistan. This claim was made by Tariq Hamid Karra during the recent Congress Working Committee meeting. He is currently the
leader of Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, prior to which he was a member of the PDP.
In a meeting where only Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were praised as expected, a political leader kept accusing Sardar Patel of petty allegations and action beyond facts. While the nation commemorates the 75th anniversary of its independence, will the foolishness of branding Sardar Patel, who played an irreplaceable role in the freedom struggle, as Jinnah’s companion be committed?
Is there truly a necessity to illuminate Sardar Patel’s numerous monumental contributions in first, the freedom struggle of the country and then, in the unification of the entire nation in a thread of unity? Sardar Patel, whom the whole country looks up to as an honourable founding father of the nation, was humiliated in the presence of Sonia, Priyanka, and Rahul in the most powerful committee of Congress while they kept listening as silent spectators. Is this not proof of their silent consent? This is utterly disgraceful and unforgivable. The Congress Party should extend a formal apology to the entire nation for this.
Every student of history is aware of the fact that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have been the first Prime Minister of independent India. Even after the support of the full working committee, he withdrew himself from this opportuning taking into consideration and thereby respecting the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi. It was only then that Nehru ended up becoming the first Prime Minister of the country.
Post-independence, apart from being the first Deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Patel was also the first Home minister. Decades after his death, Sardar Patel was awarded India’s highest national honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1991. The incident that occurred in the Congress Working Committee meeting is a clear indication that Congress has disrespected its leader from the very outset. That trend seems to be still going on.
Why did it take decades to award him a rightly earned and deserved Bharat Ratna? Will any Congress leader shed light on the same? Do the leaders of today’s Congress not know that Sardar Patel was a great patriot, visionary, and very popular leader of the country? He fought throughout his life for the interests of the farmers. He was also the Father of All India Administrative Service. Sardar Patel led the farmers’ movement in Bardoli and forced the British to bow down and surrender.
The British granted India independence in 1947 but left more than 562 princely states lawless, and free to act as per their own free will. It was Sardar Patel who took charge
of the position as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister as well as Home Minister and with his wisdom, managed to merge all the princely states under the tricolor flag of India.
This played a pivotal role in the unification of India.
The manner in which he faced the critical challenges present in the country after independence, and worked towards unifying the country, we will always be indebted to him. But the sad thing is that now his actions are being presented misleadingly. Sardar Patel did an incomparable job of uniting the divided country in the thread of unity.
Whereas based on the claim of being a Kashmiri, it is Nehru, who took the decision of
Kashmir into his own hands, and now his descendants are the ones humiliating Patel. Who doesn’t know that Nehru is the sole person responsible for today’s dispute over Kashmir?
Patel’s priority as Home Minister was to integrate the scattered princely states into a unified nation. He accomplished this Herculean task without bloodshed. This is apart from that one time when he had to send the army for ‘Operation Polo’ in Hyderabad. Operation Polo was the name of the Indian Army operation carried out in September 1948 in which the last Nizam of Hyderabad was toppled from power thereby incorporating Hyderabad as a part of India.
After the independence of India, when the Indian Union was being formed, the Nizam of Hyderabad started trying to remain an independent country despite it being situated in the middle of India. In fact, during the partition of the country, Hyderabad was also one of those royal houses which were given complete independence. However, he had only two options left, to either join India or Pakistan. The Muslim ruler, Osman Ali Khan, and the last Nizam of a majority Hindu populous state, and decided to rule independently based on the strength of his ordinary army. The Nizam formed an army of Razakars consisting mostly of Muslim soldiers.
Sardar Patel wanted the Nizam of Hyderabad to join a unified India on his own. But, due to the ignorant attitude of the Nizam, Sardar Patel was left with no choice and decided
to take police action in Hyderabad. It took only 5 days to complete this task. Around 27,000 to 40,000 lives were lost in this operation. The information figures account for more than 2,00,000. Sardar Patel always used to make decisions in the interest of the country.
Sardar Patel’s greatest contribution was to establish a unified India by merging 562 small and big princely states into the Union of India. There has not been a single person in the history of the time who has even dared to unify such a large number of states. In fact, the merger of 3 princely states remained incomplete, in which the merger of 2 princely states- Hyderabad and Junagadh was done by Sardar Patel through hard work and determination.
The issue of the merger of Jammu and Kashmir was being looked after by the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru himself. That matter remained entangled in dispute for a long time and continues to be entangled even today. However, the current Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has fulfilled Sardar Patel’s dream of ‘One Nation’ by making Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India in a true sense by nullifying Article 370.
Yet PoK and Baltistan are yet to be brought under Indian rule and administration. Like I have illustrated earlier, Sardar Patel was also the father of Indian Administrative Services of India. The Metcalfe House, located in the capital’s Civil Lines area, has had a very close association with the Iron Man, Sardar Patel. It was there that Sardar Patel addressed the bureaucrats of the nation on the brink of being truly independent on April 21, 1947, on the importance of a good nation. In his speech, he described civil servants as the steel frame of India. That is why from the year 2006, 21st April is celebrated as National Civil Service Day. On this day, the Prime Minister also gives awards for excellence in public administration.
Sardar Patel was the epitome of honour and honesty. He lived a simple life and didn’t even own a house of his own. When he died on 15 December 1950, there was only ₹ 206 in his bank account. The Sardar Patel who only gave to the country is now being labelled as Jinnah’s companion. Great shame shall befall those who are insulting Sardar Patel. The intelligent youth of the country will definitely stand alongside the truth and bring justice to him.
(The author is a senior editor, columnist, and former MP. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author.)