H C Singh

Sardar Patel

Sardar Patel, unlike Gandhi and Jawahar Lal had roaring practice as a brilliant lawyer thus in a few years he saved enough money and booked a passage through Thomas Cooke for UK to become Bar – at- Law. But that was not to be through for the time being. His elder brother Vithal Bhai Patel asked him to allow him to go to UK. Just to become Bar-at-Law. As initials of both brothers were the same VB (Vallabhh Bahi and Vithal Bhai) Vithal Bhai traveled to UK in the same ticket, as Sardar Patel had lot of regard for his elder brothers being from a peasant family. This showed how selfless was Sardar Patel to start with and continued till his demise. Now I quote from the book by Mr. Chapra “Sardar of India”

“When his brother returned to India after completing his studies in London, Vallabh Bhai left for the UK in 1970 and joined the Middle Temple Inn. With his meager resources, he had to work hard in London too and would walk about 14 kms daily to go to and return from the library in the middle temple when he was already 35. The Sardar won a prize of £50 and got a first-class and first position in the finals in the Inns of Court, London. Being the son of a peasant, Vallabh bhai was eager to go to the villages around London and acquire first-hand knowledge which he did after his examination was over. He returned to India with flying colors. In spite of an attractive offer made by the then Chief Justice of Bombay, of a Professorship at the then Chief Justice of Bombay, of a Professorship at the Government Law School (the college was known as ‘school’), Vallabh bhai preferred to come over to Ahemdabad.”

Sardar Patel had decided to do for Ahemdabad and thereafter for Independence movement under Gandhiji though he did not agree with the Mahatma in every aspect. He devoted more time, after declining professorship of Law College to municipal administration with a view to improve. He thereafter took stand against two arrogant British Commissioners and got them removed. These officers were Mr Shillidy and Masscy.

His spirit of service for people was remarkable. It came from his heart and soul in this connection I would like to quote Shri G.V Malvankar another prominent social worker and followers of Gandhiji and his non-violent movement for India’s freedom from British Rule.

“His spirit of service and devotion to duty were of such an exceptional character that as chairman of the municipal sanitary committee, he struck to his residence in the city of Ahmedabad when plague (1917) was raging and refused to move out for personal safety. His was a familiar figure moving in the streets of Ahmedabad, getting the sewers cleaned and the plague-stricken areas disinfected.”

Sardar Patel’s unique contribution to India’s unity and unification, as never before, was (1) Integration of 562 Princely states with newly independent India and (2) successful intervention in Kashmir when all the others leader were indifferent and seemed helpless against British intrigues and for Pakistan Jinnah not only wanted to integrate Kashmir with Pakistan but waited and tried to win over Maharaja of Jodhpur and Nawab of Bhopal with all types of temptations like a corridor, and financial help, arms and use of Karachi port.

Failure of Jinnah and success of Sardar Patel is described by K.M. Punnikar who was Prime Minister of Bikaner in letter dated 7th September 1947 to Sardar Patel that your understanding and vision killed the dispersion of most of the princes and gave us support when we most required it and not only India but the states as a whole owe you a deep gratitude.”

It was indeed a miracle that the Sardar was able to achieve the merger of about 562 princely states comprising one-third of the total area of India into the Indian union within a short span of less than two years. The obstacles seemed to be insurmountable when he took over the reins of office.

Later on Mountbatten used to observe, according to Hudson, “I am glad to say” that “Nehru has not been put in charge of the new states department, which would have wrecked everything. Patel, who is essentially a realist and very sensible, is going to take it over…..”

A few days before 15 August 1947, hostile combination of Indian Princes sprang up with a plan to protect the Pakistan frontier from the border of Sindh to the borders of Bhopal on the one side and to the Surat District on the other. It was indeed a bold and formidable move but the Sardar was able to break this combination; each element, to quote K.M. Munshi, “was segregated and destroyed”.

On the success of his mission Sardar in a statement before the Constituent Assembly on 12th October 1949 observed:

The great ideal of geographical, political and economic unification of India, an ideal which for centuries remained a distant dream and which appeared as remote and as difficult of attainment even after the advent of Indian independence was consummated by the policy of integration.

The story of the merger of the Indian states into the Indian union has been told by the Sardar’s right – hand man, V.P. Menon, in his well – known work, The story of the Integration of Indian Stated and need not be repeated here. “Suffice to say that the Sardar’s India was greater in size than that of Samudragupta, Asoka and Akbar and the writ of the Center wielded an authority and respect never dreamt of by these greatest of Indian rulers.”

Nizam of Hydrabad supported by Razakars and Pakistan had ambition of being ruler of an independent country duly being recognized by Pakistan, Britain and India. But Sardar Patel was determined to end Nizam’s dream and integrated Hyderabad fully like any other princely state. He called Major General Choudhary asking him straight question as how many days of military (Police) action would be required to finish Razakar resistance and integrate Hyderabad with rest of India. General cordially said at the most a week.

Thus Hyderabad was made part of Indian union within 5 days and Major General Choudhary was honoured as military governor of Hyderabad and Sardar Patel when he visited Hyderabad after a few days stayed with General Choudhary who felt greatly honured.

As in the case of integration of Hyderabad there was division in the cabinet in case of Kashmir Mountbatten had sympathies with Pakistan as he was friendly with Churchill and was influenced by his thinking. The chief of army of India, General Bucher was reluctant and was against sending Indian Army in Kashmir. It was only Sardar Patel who was, as in the case of Hyderabad determined to send Indian Army to Kashmir for Kashmir’s accession and integration with India.

In Hyderabad Hindus were in majority while in Kashmir it was quite different as Muslims were in majority in Kashmir. Hindus were in Majority in Jammu and Buddhist were in majority in Ladakh.

To solve the Kashmir problem there was a meeting under the chairmanship of Lord Mountbatten. From the biography of Vallabhbhai Patel, I quote below in length to clarify the role of Mountbatten, Bucher, Nehru and Patel.

“General Bucher asserted that resources available to him were so meager that military assistance to the state would not be possible. Lord Mountbatten exhibited studied diffidence. Panditji presented a picture of acute anxiety and deep concern. Sardar listened, did not utter a word.” He was a picture of calm equipoise. His silence was a strange contrast to a picture of defeatism and helplessness that otherwise pervaded in the meeting. “Suddenly Sardar moved in his seat and immediately in his gruff and resolute voice attracted everybody. He conveyed the following: “Look here, General, Kashmir must be defended at all costs and come what may, resources or no resources. You must do it and all assistance will be rendered by Government. This must, must and must be done. Do whatever you like, but do it…” The General wore a grim look. A ray of hope shot through me. The generals might have wished to demur, but Sardar quietly got up and saying that arrangements for ‘operation airlift’ would be ready by the next morning…defense of Kashmir thus was the result of Sardar’s decisiveness and determined will to implement the decision, whatever the odds.”

Sir Aurobindo, the great seer who had given up active politics and lived the life of a Karmayogi in Pondicherry, had rightly prophesied as early as December 22, 1946, in a remark to a query from his disciple. “Out of all of them. Patel is the only strong man.”

Along with General Bucher, Nizam was supported by many Britishers of the conservative party like Sir Walter Monckton and RA Butler who were on Churchill’s side. Butler emphasized that “Britain should press for the just claims of Hyderabad to remain independent”

Thus Sardar Patel’s achievements like the Police action in Hyderabad, sending Indian Army in Kashmir against opposition by Britishers and indifference of Nehru were more than any other Indian contemporary or past leader and rulers. Whole of India salutes the great Sardar and shall remember him for ever.

Nehru – Patel Controversy

Nehru was Prime Minister duly supported by Gandhi and all the Congress leaders and workers after independence of the country. After partition of India and creation of Muslim state of Pakistan, Patel wanted that Muslims of India should prove their loyalty to India but Nehru was of the opinion that it was the responsibility of Congress and the Government to make Muslims of India feel secure.

Though Nehru and Patel did not see eye to eye on many subjects and policy matters, it was ultimately Sardar Patel who advised all congress men to follow Nehru as Bapu appointed him as his successor and had even proclaimed him as such. It is the duty of all Bapu’s soldiers to carry out his bequest. I am not a disloyal soldier. It was Patel’s decency that prevented an open rupture between the two over Congress Presidency.

August 24, 2009 - Posted by | India, Indian History | , , , , , , ,

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