On the occasion of Independence Day i.e. August 15, 2013 Prime Minister Sardar Manmohan Singh failed to remember his political ancestor Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, ex-Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, while addressing the nation from the hallowed ramparts of Lal Quila.
Undoubtedly by range, extent, depth and intensity of the task, Sardar Patel matched Maharshi Chanakya and several other great rishis and visionaries of ancient times.
Jawaharlal Nehru entered into Transfer of Power Agreement with the outgoing British Viceroy without informing any of his Congress associates, became adamant to grab Prime Ministership come what may, sidelining Sardar Patel who was favoured by 15 out of 16 State Congress chiefs for the position. While Nehru was playing like an errant school-boy with destiny of the nation and 40 crore natives, hobnobbing with Edwina Mountbatten, Sardar Patel got down to the business of unifying the nation with all his seriousness and capabilities like a true nationalist.
Sardar Patel was unfortunately, encircled by a host of unfavourable hurdles with no support coming from any quarter. The task amounted to unifying some 33 lakh square kilometres of area populated by 40 crore people, divided into 560 princely states of all sizes to reckon with. The Britishers had deviously announced that every state was at liberty to choose their destiny in whichever way they so desired. On western side of the border, there was Muhammad Ali Jinnah exerting his best to entice as many princes as possible on their terms. Inside the country, Mountbatten was not supportive while Nehru as PM, was plainly rude and hostile. Mahatma Gandhi further accentuated the hurdles by insisting on non-violence and Sardar Patel had a tough task of dodging Gandhi on several occasions. Indian Army was manned by British Commanders who were reluctant to clash with Pakistan. General Roy Bucher even discouraged Sardar Patel until the last minute on police action against Nizam of Hyderabad in November 1948. British advisers and political agents of princely states headed by Muslims were blatantly and brazenly working against the country. Those Britishers were so hostile that the India Independence Act passed by British Parliament in July 1947 provided for a Princestan as the third dominion which led many a princes to believe that they enjoyed unrestrained option of joining either Pakistan, India or remaining independent. It was only after Sardar Patel tactfully accepted the British idea to join Commonwealth Club, did Mountbatten allow him to deal with princely states sternly.
Nehru insisted on dealing with Kashmir himself probably because he regarded himself a Kashmiri and found himself emotionally very close to Sheikh Abdullah. By the time Nehru died an ignominious death, Kashmir became a festering wound to contend with for all the successive governments till date. Worst challenge that Sardar Patel encountered was in Hyderabad as the Nizam was a prisoner of Pakistani agents called Razakars. Also, British adviser of Nizam Alexander Monckton was brazenly pro-Pakistan and in sheer desperation, Nizam sent an SOS to the British government to send a British Prime Minister for Hyderabad. As if it was not enough, Nehru used to put pressure on him not to take any action against the Nizam or Razakars. Sardar Patel had to wait till September 1948 to take advantage of Nehru’s absence in New Delhi before he ordered the Army to act.
Nawab Hamidullah of Bhopal was acting day and night as an active emissary for luring wavering princes to join Pakistan or create third dominion called Princestan in the capacity of Chancellor, Chamber of Princes. Indore, Baroda and Jodhpur were important links of this grand design. Divan of Travancore CP Ramaswami Aiyer was yet another thorn in the flesh. On May 9, 1947 he declared his State to be independent and was actively supported by Jinnah. Divan was so assertive that the Maharajah could not muster courage to disagree. It was only after Sardar Patel telephoned him, assured all support that the Maharajah could silence his Divan. Under the leadership of Jamsaheb who had succeeded Bhopal as the Chancellor, it was decided that Kathiawar states shall remain independent. Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Divan of Junagarh and a friend of Jinnah planned to accede to Pakistan. It was formally announced also on August 15. At an opportune moment in November 1947, Sardar Patel moved troops into Junagarh by keeping Mountbatten completely in dark and annexed the state swiftly. In Jodhpur, he encountered a tricky situation. Maharaja of Jodhpur was newly crowned, young and immature while the state bordered Sindh. Jinnah did several tempting offers including a blank signed warrant of accession for terms of accession to be authored by the Maharaja. Sardar Patel intervened directly and annexed Jodhpur for Bharat without losing time.
In all, it was a mammoth operation accomplished marvelously in a span of some one year or so.
Entire operation was conducted so skillfully, so tactfully that it became a legend incomparable to say the least. Can anyone of us today, even dream of such nationalistic acts being performed by the so-called leadership? His personal life too, right since his childhood, had been a tale of deprivation, steel-determination and extra-ordinary achievements, majority of them unbelievable for the ongoing generation. He lived and worked like a rishi incarnated with the Mission Impossible which he deftly transformed into a legend to be remembered into eternity.
Sardar Patel is a Legend Incomparable. Now in 2018, 68 years after his demise, unique legend of Sardar Patel is being resurrected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a Statue Of Unity, loftiest in the world, being dedicated unto him on banks of river Narmada as a humble mark of gratitude to the great man.