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Whose Sardar is he anyway?

Whose Sardar is he anyway?

Author: Tarun Vijay
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 12, 2002
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/archive_full_story.php?content_id=14612

It's good to find that Sardar Patel has re-emerged in the Congress Party's offices, at least in Gujarat. It will be interesting to know that in the offices of the Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and BJP president Venkaiah Naidu, one does not find portraits of either Shyama Prasad Mookerji or Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, but of Sardar Patel.

His photos may be found even in some RSS offices. That the Congress, which saw nothing beyond the Nehrus until now and which named all buildings, squares and stadiums under its control after the descendants of the Nehru dynasty, has to take refuge in the Sardar signifies the power of the Hindu votebank.

This is the time to dwell on what Sardar stood for and the reasons for the serious differences between the then Prime Minister and his deputy Prime Minister during those turbulent days. Nothing gives us more insight than the diary of the Sardar's daughter, Maniben Patel (edited by P N Chopra, published by Vision Books).

It reveals how Nehru could not tolerate the Sardar's stature, how he tried to demolish the institution of collective leadership and humiliate him on issues like Kashmir. It also tells us the Sardar's views on Communists, Muslims and the conversion of Hindus.

Nehru tried to go soft on the Hyderabad action, apparently to appease Muslims. But the Sardar told C Rajgopalachari in no uncertain terms that nothing would stop him from pursuing strong action to remove ''an ulcer', and that Nehru should remain within his limits.

The diary says: ''Sardar Patel bluntly told Rajaji that he would not want the future generations to blame and curse him for allowing an ulcer in the heart of India. On one side is western Pakistan and on the other side eastern Pakistan (with their idea of (a) pan-Islamic bloc... (they want to) come to Delhi and establish the Mughal empire again. Once we enter Hyderabad, it is no longer an international affair. It is the States Ministry's function. How long are you and Panditji going to bypass the Ministry of the States and carry on?'' (September 13, 1948).

Those who publish Patel's photographs on their manifestos in Gujarat don't have the courage to call a spade a spade. Kashmir alone isn't behind Pakistan's hatred for India. It's just a manifestation of centuries old animosity against Hindus that has continued since the times of Muhammad bin Qasim. Give them Kashmir today, they will find another excuse to attack us next day till he reaches Delhi.

The diary says, ''Sardar Patel was very unhappy that Nehru had taken the Kashmir issue to the UN which tied India's hands. His idea was that India should extricate itself from the UN patiently and then solve the Kashmir problem forever. He was also unhappy when reports came that the fertilised land left behind in Jammu by Muslim zamindars who had migrated to Pakistan was not being given to Hindu refugees.

Instead, the Sheikh was insisting on settling only Muslim refugees on such land (May 1, 1949)... (there were reports) that the majority of government employees were pro-Pakistani.'' Exactly the same complaints we hear from the Valley and even Jammu today.

Nehru was a close friend of Sheikh Abdullah, while the Sardar didn't trust him at all. The diary reveals that even Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, former prime minister of Kashmir, felt that the Sardar could have solved Kashmir if Nehru had not intervened. ''Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, on the other hand, was insisting that the Sardar should settle the Kashmir issue as he had done Hyderabad. But Nehru would not allow it. Iyengar reported that the Sheikh wanted to have an independent Kashmir. Upon hearing this, the Sardar said he would ask the Maharaja to return to Jammu as he did not place any trust in Sheikh Abdullah (May 12, 1949).''

Maniben also refers to a discussion about the possibility of the partition of Kashmir which involved India retaining Jammu and handing over the rest of the state to Pakistan. Patel retorted: ''We want the entire territory... and battle for the whole of Kashmir" (July 23, 1949).

The Sardar was happy to see Guru Golwalkar, the then RSS chief, released from jail and wanted to welcome RSS workers in the Congress. On 3rd August, 49, says the diary: ''Glad at release of Golwalkar-ready to welcome in Congress. Bapu's (Sardar's) task to make their entry easy.''

Today, a Congress leader attends an Osama tainted institute in London but won't say a word on the atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh. The Sardar reacted differently under similar circumstances. Maniben records: ''Sardar Patel was not happy with the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Pact as it did not stop the exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan which went on increasing and a large number of Hindus continued to migrate to India.

Sardar Patel observed that he was not so much worried about the killings, after all 30 lakh people had died in the Bengal famine, but he could not stand assaults on women and their forcible conversion to Islam... (April 5, 1950).

The Sardar further said: ''Hindus had been totally finished in Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan and Frontier Provinces. It was being repeated in East Pakistan and people like Hafizur Rehman, who had stayed on in India, would be clamouring for (a) homeland in India. What would be our position then. Our posterity would call us traitors.'' (April 24, 1950)

Sardar Patel did not trust the Communists either. He told M O Mathai, Nehru's Special Assistant, ''If we have to build up the nation, Communists would have no place there.'' (September 13, 1948).'' He didn't know that though his photo would be used on the Congress manifesto, and that the same people would join hands with the Communists whom he hated the most.

Interestingly, Maniben mentions in her diary that Sardar had one common goal with Savarkar. They differed on several issues but both of them wanted the ''four crore Muslims in India to be loyal to the country; otherwise there was no place for them (August 16, 1949).'' Compare these views with the RSS stand today!

(The writer is editor of the RSS journal Panchjanya)

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