Move Over Narendra Modi, Sardar Patel Is Gujarat’s Original Political Superhero
The political narrative being propagated in the country will tell you how Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the Iron Man of India and how he deserved to be made the first Prime Minister after independence from the British Raj ahead of Jawaharlal Nehru.
But this divisive political undercurrent is exactly what the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister was opposed to. In fact the conspiracy theories that claim a strong leaning towards the extreme right-wing would have also disappointed the man today who had dedicated his life to uniting India with non-violence as the core philosophy.
On his birthday, it’s worth celebrating the achievements of the real political superhero of Gujarat (Not you Mr Narendra Modi).
Consolidation of United India
The single largest contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel undoubtedly came at the time of partition when the freshly independent India was captured in the claws of bloody communal violence and deep-seated mistrust among different ideologies.
Sardar is believed to have travelled the length and breadth of the country and convinced almost 100 regional kings to join their kingdoms with the Independent Union of India. He tackled the question of 550-odd principalities and State territories to merge them into one motherland.
That, irrespective of communal demographics and without shedding any blood, much unlike the Modi-led government.
Gujarat’s face in QIM
Before he became a figure of national reverence, Patel had earned his place in the hearts of the lower-class of Gujarat. Born and raised in the countryside of Gujarat, he went on to become a successful lawyer. He later organised peasants from Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against the atrocities of the British Raj. It earned him a place among the political who’s who of the state and eventually the country as he continued to promote the Quit India Movement.
There was a part of Patel that wanted the ‘diverted’ swayamsevaks to not be treated with force before the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. But after the assassination, Patel banned the RSS before lifting it a year and a half later.
However, wary of their proclivity towards of violence, Patel ensured that this ‘unbanning’ would come with a rider: the RSS would not take part in politics. Within a year, however, the RSS had broken their promise, pushing the Jan Sangh as its political arm. Later on the Jan Sangh would morph into the modern-day BJP that would shame the legacy of the father of the nation.
In 1949, a mob descended upon the Babri Masjid and, after chasing away the muezzin, installed an idol of Ram Lalla in order to claim it as a temple. Within a month of the incident, Patel shot off a letter to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, GB Pant warning that “there can be no question of resolving such disputes by force”.
Differing even more starkly from the final outcome of 1992, Patel opined that “such matters can only be resolved peacefully if we take the willing consent of the Muslim community with us”. However much the right-wing would try to claim ownership over his ideologies, the fact would remain that he was a much more progressive leader than the present day ones can ever be. Happy birthday to the true poster boy of Gujarat!