New Delhi, October 31: On the 144th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, it is worth exploring the 'Iron Man of India's relationship with the nation's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The two leaders, despite being close contemporaries in their united struggle against the colonial British regime, are said to have wide differences on crucial issues. While the Sardar is said to had represented the right-off centre-conservative face of the Indian National Congress, Nehru was the flag-bearer of the party's centre-left liberal camp. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Was a ‘Man of Detail’ in True Sense of Term, Says PM Narendra Modi During Mann Ki Baat.
Although Nehru and Patel were committed Gandhians, the two leaders competed for the top Congress posts, with a section of historians claiming that they were in race for the first prime ministership of independent India. The topic of difference between them, which assumes the most significance today, is their approach on Kashmir.
Patel, according to historian Hindol Sengupta, was starly opposed to taking the Kashmir issue to the United Nations Security Council. "His beseeching advice to the prime minister to not take the Kashmir issue to the United Nations was ignored—and Patel was scathing about this, famously calling the Security Council the ‘insecurity council," Sengupta wrote in his book The Man Who Saved India.
Similarly, the historian argues that Nehru and Patel were at loggerheads on the manner in which the latter was handling the Hyderabad issue. Patel, being the then Home Minister of India, decided to use brute force to annex the state of Hyderabad after the Nawab attempted to suppress the people's will and make overtures to Pakistan. This had irked Nehru, Sengupta writes citing records, adding that the two were involved in heated confrontations during the Cabinet meetings. Patel, however, had his way on Hyderabad as the Indian Army eventually annexed the princely state.
Other FAQs Related to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Apart from his "rivalry" with Nehru, the Sardar is also remembered in contemporary era for his views on various topics on socio-political relevance, and his insight into controversial topics.
Why is Sardar Patel Known as 'Iron Man of India'?
Patel's hardline approach ensured the timely integration of over 500 princely states with the Union of India at the time of partition. His tough approach in amalgamating all princely kingdoms, including the State of Hyderabad, earned him the title of the "Iron Man of India". Some historians, along with the Centre-ruling BJP, believes that the Kashmir issue would had been solved after partition had Patel been given a free-hand to resolve the territorial dispute.
When and How Did Sardar Patel Die?
Patel passed away at the age of 75 at Mumbai's Birla House. His health began deteriorating in the summer of 1950, and continued to worsen in the next six months. On December 15 that year, he suffered a major heart attack and died. At the cremation held at Mumbai's Marine Lines, a crowd of over 1 million gathered, including the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru.
Had Sardar Patel Ever Broken Ranks With Congress?
No, Sardar Patel remained in the Indian National Congress throughout his life. He had, in January 1948, considered to quit the Cabinet of Nehru owing to differences brewing between them. The plan was eventually chalked out by him after Gandhi, in his last meeting with Patel before his assassination, sought a promise from him that he would never sever ties with the government being headed by Nehru.
Did Sardar Patel Ban The RSS?
Yes, Patel had in 1948 banned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - the parental body of the Jana Sangh which has now transformed into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The ban was imposed shortly after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Hindu Mahasabha member Nathuram Godse.
The Government of India had issued a communique on February 4, 1948, in which the rationale behind extending a nationwide ban on the RSS was explained.
"The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself," the communique had said. The ban was lifted a year later, in 1949, after the RSS was found not to be linked with the assassination of Gandhi.