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Legacy of Sardar Patel!
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
At a function to inaugurate a museum dedicated to the life of India’s first Home Minister and freedom fighter, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi while welcoming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was present on the dais with him, said that if Patel had become the first PM of India, the face of the country would have been different. “I wish Patel had become the first PM of India. Patel was a visionary.”
I have criticized earlier the plan to erect the statue.
My objection was, and continues to be, about the proposal to call the statue the “Statue of Unity”. By all means erect the tallest statue of Patel or any other icon of one’s choice. But to name any statue of the early Congress leaders as a symbol of unity would be a hilarious absurdity were it not such cruel distortion of history.
Patel along with Nehru and Gandhi divided India and unified Bharat. By becoming complicit in this shameful betrayal of national identity he lost all claims to be termed as a national unifier. By this betrayal Congress leaders exposed not only their opportunism, their subservience to British manipulation, but also their flawed appreciation of national identity and of the ground realities in Punjab which along with Bengal bore the brunt of the pangs of Partition.
These apologists are wrong.
Patel along with Nehru was at the forefront of the Congress leaders who accepted Partition. Gandhi did so through a reluctant compromise. And the reason for accepting Partition will forever damn these leaders in the eyes of posterity.
Why was Partition accepted?
There were no riots to speak of. In Punjab 1000 people had been killed in a single Rawalpindi riot during March, which was quickly stamped out, one month after Mountbatten became Viceroy. Therefore the early date of accepting Partition has been questioned and criticized. The reason has always remained a puzzle. That puzzle is solved when one considers why Sardar Patel was the first to convey acceptance of Partition as early as April.
This, then, was the real reason why the Congress accepted Partition. It could not achieve agreement with the leaders of the Muslim League on the sharing of power in government, and on the relationship between the central government and the provincial governments to be governed by the League. The decision was totally divorced from ground realities and the wishes of the people of India.
The Muslim League had no strength worth the name in Punjab. The Unionist Party with Muslim, Hindu and Sikh leaders was dominant. When the Muslim League was declared in 1940 the Unionist Party along with other Muslim led parties automatically joined it. But the Unionists never belonged to the League or followed Jinnah. In 1942 Unionist leader Sikander Hayat Khan said that if the creation of Pakistan would mean the partition of Punjab province, his party would reject Pakistan. With huge funds channeled to Jinnah by the British through certain princely rulers the League succeeded weaning away some leaders from the Unionist Party to participate in a heavily funded election campaign fomenting communal frenzy. But the League failed to obtain a majority. The Unionist Party defying Jinnah formed a coalition government with the Congress and the Akali Party under Khizar Hayat Tiwana as the Premier. After Congress accepted Partition, Tiwana in desperation pleaded with the British to stay on in undivided Punjab even if they had to grant independence to the rest of India!
Could betrayal be more shameful?
No wonder that after the holocaust which occurred after Independence both Gandhi and Nehru admitted their errors and tried to undo the damage. Gandhi wanted to settle down in Pakistan to undo the spirit of the Partition. Nehru tried to forge an Indo-Pak confederation. Both failed because of untimely death.
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Comments on this Article
11/03/2013 23:44 PM
Dinesh Kumar Bohre
11/02/2013 12:54 PM
11/02/2013 03:46 AM
11/01/2013 22:51 PM
Dinesh Kumar Bohre
11/01/2013 11:29 AM
Dinesh Kumar Bohre
11/01/2013 05:33 AM