4C. Sardar Patel: Part-3 of the Extracts

Part-III (Last Part) of Chapter-12 of
Foundations of Misery

Sardar Patel

                                             Interesting Extracts


Select Extracts

Here is the last part of the select interesting extracts on Sardar Patel put together from other chapters of this book.

Tibet & China

Rajmohan Gandhi writes in his book, Rajaji: A Life: “K.P.S.Menon, Foreign Secretary at the time, describes how C.R. [C.Rajagopalachari/Rajaji] 'sent for me for a talk on Tibet ...and argued forcibly that we should not recognize Chinese sovereignty or suzerainty over Tibet.’”

Durga Das, writing in India from Curzon to Nehru & After about the last talk he had with Sardar Patel a few days before his death, quotes Sardar: “I have loved Nehru but he has not reciprocated. I have been eating my heart out because I have not been able to make him see the dangers ahead. China wants to establish its hegemony over South-East Asia. We cannot shut our eyes to this because imperialism is appearing in a new garb...He is being misled by his courtiers. I have grave apprehensions about the future.”

This is what Fareed Zakaria says in The Post-American World: “When he[Nehru] was warned that Communist China would probably seek to annex Tibet, for example, he doubted it, arguing that it would be foolish and impractical adventure. And even after Beijing did annex Tibet, in 1951, Nehru would not reassess the nature of Chinese interests along India’s northern border…”

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Sardar Patel wrote a letter dated 7 November 1950, about five weeks before his death, to Nehru on Tibet and China, which turned out to be prophetic. [Extracts from it are reproduced in the chapter on Tibet.]

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This is from Left out by history by Inder Malhotra in The Indian Express of 6 March 2007 about Krishna Menon [who shamed India in India-China War]: “...The [top secret] file contained only two documents and their originator, MI5, Britain's internal intelligence and counter-espionage agency,...One was the transcript of a telephonic conversation between Sudhir Ghosh, PRO at India House, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in New Delhi. As Khushwant Singh, then Ghosh's deputy, has recorded more than once, [Sardar] Patel, as home and information minister, had installed Ghosh in London to ‘spy’ on [Krishna] Menon. The second document was a copy of a brief but sensitive communication Menon had sent to V.M. Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister. Describing the message as ‘sinister’, MI5 had added that it had obtained the highly secret paper ‘through our usual method’...The redoubtable Sardar [Patel] obviously shared MI5's view of Menon. If he could have helped it, he would have prevented his appointment as high commissioner. This, he knew, as an arch-realist, was impossible, given [Krishna] Menon's proximity to and friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru. So he did the next best thing, and planted a spook in the high commission. ...Nehru's decision, soon afterwards, to appoint Menon defence minister was not a fortunate one...”

Debilitating Nehru-Indira-Dynasty Socialism

Sardar Patel never believed socialism was a panacea like Nehru and many other socialists, including Jayaprakash Narayan and Rammanohar  Lohia, believed. Sardar was liberal enough to even offer a deal to the socialists on these lines: ‘Select a province and run it on socialist principles. If they did better than others, he would gladly hand over the country to them.’ The offer was not taken, as JP and Lohia later recalled.

Of course, this Nehru could do once the opponents of socialism like Sardar Patel and Gandhi were no more. Sardar Patel had remarked that “a government which engages itself in trading [read business] activities will come to grief”.

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India’s poverty is self-inflicted, thanks to the self-destructive policies followed, even though prescriptions for prosperity were available off-the-shelf for many years, and there were any number of real, practical examples to go by...

While the developing countries of SE-Asia, which had been far behind India in 1947, raced ahead at over 9% growth and became highly prosperous, with infra-structure rivalling western countries, India plodded along at what was derisively referred to as the Hindu rate of growth of just 3%, and became a basket-case, begging aid and food from all.

However, the term "Hindu rate of growth" is highly inappropriate and unfair, besides being derogatory. Let us examine why?

One, the "Nehruvian rate of growth". The low rate of growth was thanks to Nehru-Indira-Rajiv’s policies. If rather than the “Hindu rate of growth” it was called the "Nehruvian rate of growth" or "Nehruvian socialistic rate of growth" or “NIDP [Nehru-Indira-Dynasty policies] rate of growth", one would have no quarrel.

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Eight, Socialism vs. Mahatma Gandhi and Others. Mahatma Gandhi was no socialist. Nor were the other stalwarts like Sardar Patel, Rajaji and Rajendra Prasad. All the four—Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Rajaji and Rajendra Prasad—quite unlike Nehru, could be considered as also representing the Hindu ethos, and perhaps precisely for that reason they were against socialistic claptrap of Nehru.

“No” to Dynacracy

Rather than an enhancement in the quality and content of our democracy and strengthening of our democratic institutions, what we have been witnessing is a steady erosion since the fifties. While the outward form has been kept, the content has been hijacked through dynastification. Ironically, Nehru who raved mad against rajas, maharajas and feudalism laid the foundation of dynacracy—the dynastic democracy (details on this in the last chapter). He ensured that his dynasty substituted the dynasty of the feudal maharajas after independence. Following in his footsteps, his daughter and descendents reinforced the foundation. Learning from their example, now you have scores of dynasties at the state level. From a stage soon after independence where Gandhi never promoted his own progeny and Sardar Patel forbade his son and relatives to even meet him in Delhi, where have we come?

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Contrast Nehru with Sardar Patel, who had told his son and grandson, when they visited him after he suffered a heart-attack in Delhi: “As long as I am in this chair, don’t visit Delhi, unless I am unwell and you have to see me...All sorts of people will contact you. Take care.”

Treatment Post-Death

When Sardar died in Mumbai, Nehru, who himself attended the funeral, advised the then President, Rajendra Prasad, to not attend the funeral—the reason given by him was that as per the protocol, President need not attend funerals of ministers! So he treated Sardar Patel as a mere minister—what arrogance! A disgraceful attitude, particularly  when Sardar Patel had so selflessly supported him in the interest of the nation, even though Nehru had usurped the PM’s post from him most undemocratically... But, of course, Rajendra Prasad went. Sardar was not just the Deputy PM, but was Rajendra Prasad's colleague of many, many years in the Independence Struggle. This incident is mentioned in India from Curzon to Nehru & After by Durga Das.

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An article in The Pioneer of 30 October 2012, "Revealed: Nehru wanted to scuttle Sardar’s Hyderabad plan" by Kumar Chellappani, based on “With No Ill Feeling to Anybody”, the memoirs of an IAS officer MKK Nair, who was close to both Sardar Patel and VP Menon, states that while Sardar was for army action to liberate Hyderabad, Nehru desired the UN route, and had bitterly opposed Sardar. (As we have seen in an earlier chapter, had it not been for Sardar Patel, and had it been left to Nehru, Hyderabad would have been either another Kashmir or another Pakistan!) MKK Nair also states in his book: “Immediately after he got the news about Sardar Patel’s death, Nehru sent two notes to the Ministry of States [which was headed by Sardar Patel]. The notes reached VP Menon, the then Secretary to the Ministry. In one of the notes, Nehru had asked Menon to send the official Cadillac car used by Sardar Patel to the former’s office. The second note was shocking. Nehru wanted government secretaries desirous of attending Sardar Patel’s last rites to do so at their own personal expenses.” It is hard to believe the supposedly cultured person Nehru could be so ungracious and could go to such lengths upon death of a colleague and a great national leader and freedom fighter!

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Incidentally, there is no samadhi of Sardar Patel in Delhi, or elsewhere in India, although people like Sanjay Gandhi have their samadhi at a prime location in Delhi! The residence in Delhi where Sardar lived when he was the Deputy Prime Minister of the country has been razed and there is no sign that he had ever lived there. Nehru’s house, on the other hand, has been turned into a museum.

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In the capital, in the prime area, you have Rajghat for Gandhiji, Shanti Van for Nehru, Shakti Sthal for Indira Gandhi, Veer Bhumi for Rajiv Gandhi, Vijay Ghat for Shastri, Kishan Ghat for Charan Singh, besides many museums or memorials for the Nehru-Gandhis, but no memorial to either Subhas Bose or to Sardar Patel in the capital, when next to Gandhiji the latter two deserve the highest respect! Dr Ambedkar’s memorial in Delhi and in Nagpur, and the Tilak Janmasthan Memorial at Ratnagiri are also in a state of neglect! Contrast them with Nehru-Gandhi memorials!

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This is from the foreword of S Nijalingappa to the book, Inside Story of Sardar Patel—The Diary of Maniben Patel: 1936-50: “Strangely, however, while the collected works of many other leaders [notably, Nehru and Gandhi] have been published by the government since Independence, the collected or selected works of two foremost leaders, namely Sardar Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, were never taken up by any official agency. It is for this reason that we constituted the Sardar Patel Society, had it registered, collected funds and published the Collected works of Sardar Patel in fifteen volumes...”

Belated Bharat Ratnas

...Radhakrishnan was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1954, Rajaji in 1954, Nehru in 1955—when he was himself the PM, Govind Ballabh Pant in1957, BC Roy in 1961, Zakir Hussain in 1963, Indira Gandhi in 1971—when she was herself the PM, VV Giri in 1975, Kamaraj in 1976, Vinoba Bhave in 1983, MGR in 1988, and Rajiv Gandhi in 1991! But, Sardar Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and Dr Ambedkar, being not as great as these worthies (!!), got it later! And, that too because there were non-Dynasty governments since December 1989—VP Singh, then Chandra Shekhar, followed by Narsimha Rao. The Dynasty did not like them!! It has been that personal in our feudal democracy. Of course, the only unjust thing that the Dynasty did was to have left out poor Sanjay Gandhi!

Non-dynasty greats can wait, may even die, there is no hurry. Posthumously, Ambedkar got it in 1990, Sardar Patel in 1991, Netaji Subhas Bose in 1992 and Bordoloi in 1999, when all the four of them should have been the first to get it in 1954 when the award was introduced.

But, dynasty-scions, great or otherwise, can’t be made to wait: two allowed themselves to be awarded Bharat Ratna when they were themselves in power—Nehru in 1955 and Indira Gandhi in 1971—while Rajiv Gandhi was awarded the same soon after his death in 1991!! When sounded for Bharat Ratna, Maulana Azad declined and told Nehru it was totally improper for those deciding on the awards to pin the medal on themselves! Azad got it posthumously.

Namkarans Unlimited

...Throw a pebble in any direction anywhere in India. The statistical chance of it hitting something named after Motilal or Jawahar or Kamala or Indira or Rajiv are frighteningly high. Sharp dynastic practices indeed, artfully ensuring massive free publicity at government’s cost!

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Why JNU—Jawaharlal Nehru University? Nehru’s academic achievements  were rather modest. He was a graduate and had passed the bar exams. Writes MJ Akbar in Nehru: The Making of India: “Eventually  when he [Jawaharlal] passed in the second half of the second class, Motilal was relieved enough to celebrate lavishly...Motilal was acutely terrified that his son might fail, so even such moderate results were cause for celebrations...”

Why IGNOU—Indira Gandhi National Open University? She was not even a graduate! You see poor boys and girls in the most backward regions of India doing graduation and post-graduation under trying circumstances, and here you have a person, with all the financial and family support, and even expenses for education abroad, not doing even graduation.

Then, why name these important national universities after such persons? Why not name them after Ambedkar who earned a double doctorate from abroad despite heavy odds and extremely meagre resources? Or, after other great academics or scientists like say CV Raman, the Nobel Laureate, or SN Bose, or JC Bose, or Panini. Or, after other national leaders like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Radhakrishnan, Subhas Bose, Rajaji, Sardar Patel who were also great academics. Dr Rajendra Prasad was a brilliant student throughout his academic career, who acquired doctorate in law; Dr Radhakrishnan was a distinguished scholar and a doctor in philosophy; Subhas Chandra Bose was among the top scorers in ICS; and Sardar Patel had topped the Barrister-at-Law examination in London.

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Nehru was unsuccessful in the profession he was trained in (a lawyer), and could hardly earn any money. Both he and his family were dependent upon his father for support. This was in sharp contrast to his adversary like Jinnah who had a roaring legal practice, and was essentially a self-made man. This was also in sharp contrast to his colleagues, Sardar Patel and Rajaji, who were very successful lawyers earning fat income, and who willingly gave up their practice on the call of Gandhi. Sardar Patel financed his own education—and that of his elder brother, Vithalbhai, also a freedom fighter—at London from the money he had earned as a lawyer in India.

Sardar’s Daughter

I too had a dream—an autobiography of Dr Verghese Kurien of Anand Dairy fame, as told to Gouri Salvi, the author—is a great story full of interesting anecdotes. It is worth reading such real life stories. Among the many interesting episodes in the book, one, rather shocking anecdote relates to Maniben Patel, daughter of Sardar Patel. The anecdote below is based on book of Kurien and other sources.

Sardar Patel's wife, Jhaverba, had expired back in 1909, and he was being looked after by his daughter, Maniben, who chose not to get married. Maniben was a devoted patriot, and a dedicated Congress worker, who gave her all to the nation, and  to the Freedom Struggle. Sardar Patel did not have any bank balances or property. Even though he was earning substantially as a very successful lawyer, once he got into the Freedom Movement, he gave up everything. Sardar was the very example of Gandhian simplicity. He used to say that, "Bapu has told that those in politics should not hold property, and I hold none." Such were the ideals then. Contrast this with the multi-crorepati leaders of today.

When Sardar Patel expired, he had left nothing for his daughter. With Sardar no more, she had to vacate the house. She was left all alone to fend for herself, with no money and no house. Sardar had instructed her to give a bag and a book to Nehru upon his death.

After Sardar’s death—which happened in Mumbai—Maniben dutifully went to Delhi, took an appointment with Nehru and met him. She handed over to him the bag and the book. It seems the book was an account book, and the bag contained rupees 35 lacs. After having done so, she waited for Nehru to express sympathy, enquire as to what she intended doing, where would she stay, her monetary position, whether she wanted anything, and what he could do for her. But, Nehru showed no interest and said nothing. After some time, she left disappointed.

She returned to Ahmedabad to stay with a cousin. Neither Nehru, nor the Congress Party bothered about her well being. Such was the fate of the lady who gave her all to the nation and of the daughter of a person who made India what it is today! Contrast this with the Nehru Dynasty.

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