The Bold Voice of J&K

Nehruvians discredited modern India’s builder

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A Surya Prakash

The Narendra Modi Government’s decision to observe 31st October, the Birth Anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) and to mount a nationwide campaign to acquaint the country’s 1.3 billion citizens of the extraordinary  achievements of this great son of India, will be hailed by all patriotic citizens.
This is the first major step taken by a Union Government over the last six decades to accord Sardar Patel, who was instrumental in securing the accession of 554 princely States into the Indian Union and for the unification of the country, his rightful place in the pantheon of national leaders.
Apart from being a leading light in the freedom movement, Sardar Patel played a critical role during the most sensitive, nascent phase in independent India’s history.  As the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, he had to grapple with the bloody riots and the influx of millions of  refugees in the horrendous aftermath of the partition; play a key role in the drafting of the country’s Constitution; and, more importantly, unite a nation, which stood splintered into 554 parts. The last named task – the unification of India – was an extraordinary achievement which only a man with foresight, determination and true grit could have achieved.  Therefore, but for Sardar Patel’s iron will and Doordrishti, the political map of India which we are all so used to, would never have existed. Instead, India would have been a truncated nation with many secessionist time bombs ticking away in different regions.
In brief, here is what the Sardar did: Following the departure of the British, all princely States had the option to either accede to India or Pakistan or remain independent. In other words, a united India would emerge only if all the States below the Pakistan border acceded to India. If any chose to align with Pakistan or remain independent, a united India would be an impossibility. Also, if States deep within the Indian heartland decided to accede to Pakistan (as desired by Hyderabad State in the south), India’s unity and integrity would be in peril, and in future, these States would have posed a major threat to national security and provided Pakistan multiple bases for cross-border terrorism. Finally, India’s map would have looked jagged with several mini-Pakistans blotting the landscape. The unification of India was therefore paramount and Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Governor-General, concluded that there was just one man – Sardar Patel – who had the courage, tenacity and ingenuity to undertake this responsibility.  Sardar Patel was entrusted  the task and in a brief time he achieved the country’s unification by coaxing, cajoling and, at times, bamboozling, some reluctant princes; he got 554 of them to sign on the dotted line. This included the State of Hyderabad which was ruled by the Nizam.
The Nizam was keen to accede to Pakistan and Sardar Patel made every effort to get him to join India. When the Nizam offered resistance and even encouraged communal violence against his Hindu subjects, the Sardar asked the Indian Army to march in and capture the State. Jawaharlal Nehru foolishly wanted Hyderabad to take its own decision and was opposed to its forceful integration. But Sardar Patel was absolutely clear in his mind that Hyderabad State could  not be outside the Indian Union. He is reported to have said that he “did not want an undigested lump in India’s belly”. But, for his foresight, India would have had a Pakistani enclave in her belly. One can well imagine its consequences!
The Sardar also brushed aside Nehru’s objections and flew in troops to Srinagar in the nick of time to save whatever is left of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. But for his firm resolve and quick action, Pakistani troops, which were on the outskirts of Srinagar, would have overrun the remaining parts of the state. Similarly, his decisiveness enabled the integration of Junagadh and a few other States on the western coast into the Indian Union.
A fact that is hidden from the public by Nehruvian historians is that, of the 554 States that had to be integrated, Nehru gave Sardar Patel the responsibility to integrate 553, which the Iron Man accomplished with ruthless precision. Nehru kept the responsibility of integration of Jammu and Kashmir with himself.  We all know the price that India is paying for this decision.
Yet, the man who constructed the India of our dreams and  who was literally the builder of the nation, was never accorded the exalted status that he deserved. Starting with the days of Nehru, this family ensured that no national leader – be it Sardar Patel, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose or BR Ambedkar – were given his due, lest it diminish the image of Nehru and some lesser mortals thrust on the nation by fate or political circumstances. As a result, Sardar Patel’s incredible contribution towards the unification of a nation literally in tatters after the British made their exit on 15th August, 1947, has never been highlighted. This despicable plan to wipe Sardar Patel out of the national consciousness was abetted by historians and media persons who were patronised by the Nehru-Gandhis. Egged on by the Prime Ministers from this family, these phonies who belonged to the Nehruvian or Marxist schools, not only hid the truth about the Sardar’s phenomenal contribution, but also tried to tarnish his secular, democratic image and paint him as a Hindu communalist.
On the other hand, Nehru was painted as a great democrat. But the truth about his ‘election’ as the first Prime Minister was never told. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s observation last year that India’s history would have been different if Sardar Patel had become India’s first Prime Minister, is not without basis. In 1946, when the Congress had to elect the party president/ Prime Minister, 12 of the 15 Pradesh Congress Committees proposed Sardar Patel’s name. The remaining three committees did not nominate anybody. However, Nehru, the ‘great democrat’, was unwilling to accept the verdict and told Mahatma Gandhi that he would not be number two to anybody. Mahatma Gandhi then persuaded Sardar Patel to withdraw his nomination and ensure the ‘unanimous’ election of Nehru as Congress president and Prime Minister-in-waiting! In other words, the Sardar combined magnanimity with toughness.
These are just a few of the reasons why the Modi Government’s initiative must be welcomed. Although Sardar Patel is getting the recognition due to him, 60 years too late, it can no longer be said that we are an ungrateful nation, at least with regard to Sardar Patel.

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