Saturday, November 1, 2014

India: Sardar Vallabhai Patel- True story of 'Iron man of India.' by Harsh Thakor

Today, on October 31st the nation celebrates the 139th birthday of Sardar Vallabhai Patel who is projected as a champion amongst Indian leaders and hailed for uniting India into a federal state.

Intellectuals overlook his supression of the Telengana Armed struggle, communal outlook and pro-industrialist stance but hail his anti-Nehru position and statesmanship.

Idolizing Sardar Patel as a role model would be the equivalent of glorifying the pro-liberalization and globalization policies of the current Indian state and patronizing the big industrialists.

He may have been a dynamic politician but we have to assess the direction in which he harnessed his resources. Personally I would not rate Nehru any higher as he was a psuedo--socialist equally responsible for suppressing Communists and morally not secular..

I would debate whether we should assail Sardar Patel as a great political leader  when he was hardly sympathetic to the cause of the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination and with Nehru and Gandhi opposed the Naval rating uprising.

Arguably his uniting of 500 princely states was a historic achievement but even if we uphold it we must not ignore his treacherous stand on Hyderabad and Telengana.

Intellectuals glorify him and state that it should have been Sardar and not Nehru.

To me they were morally the same unlike writers like A.K Noorani.

Arguably the Sardar even if one upholds his positive personal aspects or unification achievement must be exposed for negative aspects.

The most negative aspects was his opposition to the naval ratings strike,his crushing of the Telengana armed struggle by sending the Indian army, killing 4000 peasants..

In 1948 he promoted Hinduism by placing Hindu idols in the Babri Masjid.

Today in many ways Narendra Modi is a cruder version of Sardar Patel. 

In an era where Hindu fascistic tendencies are far more prevalent and repression on democratic forces is greater.

I recommend readers to read Suniti Kumar Ghosh's 'India and the Raj' which clarifies role."Patel had strong ties with the business community who willingly cooperated with him."G.D.Birla stated"

Many a time Sardar utilized my help and money."

However  I would not rate Nehru any higher than Sardar Patel as he was a psuedo--socialist equally responsible for suppressing Communists and morally not secular. I staunchly combat intellectual who think Nehru was greater or more progressive as all his actions were morally anti-communist.

Nehru endorsed Khrushchevite  Soviet Union and opposed Socialist China in the war.

I suggest readers read 'Indian National Congress-how real,how national 'by R.U.P.E of 1997 .I am critical of Rajani Palme Dutt's praise of Nehru's leadership and policies. in 'India Today.

'In essence Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar Patel were the same.

Below is an excerpt from A.G.Noorani

A cabal of self-confessed Hindu nationalist, as distinct from Indian nationalists, consistently lauds Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel because it finds in him a soulmate. 

He is not praised by himself; significantly, he is always pitted against Nehru. 


"The communalism of a majority is apt to be taken for nationalism."
- Jawaharlal Nehru on January 5, 1961.

In November 1945 one of the top Congress leaders inaugurated on Marine Drive in Mumbai, just next to the Chowpati Beach, the Pransukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Pool. 

It was, and still is, exclusively for the use of Hindus. 

Its doors remain shut, even in 2013, for Muslims and other communities. 

No prizes for guessing who that top leader was. 

There was one and only one top Congress leader who would have done the deed, namely, Vallabhbhai Patel. 

For long a plaque on the frontage of the premises boldly proclaimed his achievement.

Its implications were lost on none. The astute advocate of the two-nation theory, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was quick to seize on it. 

In a statement issued on November 18, 1945, from New Delhi, in a rejoinder to Patel’s speech at the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) session, Jinnah said, 

“As to his other slogans that Hindus and Muslims are brothers and one nation, the less Sardar Patel talks about it [the] better. It does not come with any grace from his mouth, at any rate. 

For did not Mr Vallabhbhai Patel perform the opening ceremony of swimming bath in Bombay meant exclusively for Hindus? Has he forgotten that some young men demonstrated protesting against his participation in the opening ceremony of the swimming bath which excluded the Muslim brethren even sharing the sea-water” (The Nation’s Voice, Volume IV, Waheed Ahmad ed., 1947, 3/3).

Neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) would have stooped to this. 

Nehru had good reason to write in his Autobiography: “Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak” (page 136).

Patel is best judged by the cabal which idolises him today. 

L.K. Advani: At Ayodhya on November, 19, 1990: “Henceforth, only those who fight for Hindu interests would rule India.” October 2, 1990: “Secular policy is putting unreasonable restrictions on Hindu aspirations.” 

To the BBC: “It would not be wrong to call the BJP a Hindu party” (Organiser, August 5, 1989; emphasis added, throughout). On October 17, 1989, The Times of India editorially censured him: “Mr Advani while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation” (for details vide the writer’s book The RSS and the BJP, LeftWord, Chapter 4, “The RSS and Gandhi”). The BJP’s affection for Gandhi is a recent and calculated development.

Narendra Modi, an erstwhile protege who ousted Advani from the pedestal, follows the line with greater gusto. “The nation and Hindus are one. Only if Hindus develop will the nation develop. 

Unity of Hindus will strengthen the nation,” he said in the presence of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at a Hindu Samajotsava organised by the RSS in Mangalore. 

He said: “In Gujarat, an ordinary swayamsewak of the RSS [that is, Modi himself] is toiling to make Gujarat the number one State in the country,” and added that he had “spent his entire life for Hindu Samaj” (Organiser, February 11, 2007).

Recently in an interview to Reuters, after his succession was all but sealed, Modi was asked, “But do you think you did the right thing in 2002?” He replied, “Absolutely”. 

He was also asked, “People want to know who is the real Modi—Hindu nationalist leader or pro-business Chief Minister.” Modi amply proved the truth of Nehru’s remark quoted at the beginning of this article: “I am a nationalist. I’m patriotic. Nothing is wrong. 

I am a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So, I am a Hindu nationalist. So, yes, you can say I’m a Hindu nationalist because I’m a born Hindu” (Indian Express, July 13, 2013). This is the very man who aspires to be our next Prime Minister.

Jaswant Singh aspires to present himself as the “modern” and “secular” face of the Sangh Parivar. 

He is neither. On June 2, 2008, he released the BJP’s foreign policy resolution in New Delhi. He had only to be asked “Was the BJP happy about Nepal becoming a secular state?” to let loose a highly emotional cry: “As an Indian and believer in “Sanatan Dharma” [Hinduism], I feel diminished…. 

There are four ‘dhams’ [pilgrimage centres] in India and the fifth, Pashupati Nath, is in Nepal. There is nothing more secular than ‘Sanatan Dharma’…. This is a negative development [in Nepal]” (Neena Vyas; The Hindu, June 3, 2008).

The logic is hard to follow. If India can be a secular state with four Hindu pilgrimage centres, why cannot Nepal be a secular state with one pilgrimage centre? 

He was clearly not speaking as an Indian but as a Hindu (“I feel diminished”). How genuinely can such people accept India’s secularism, enshrined in its Constitution, when Nepal’s secularism makes them feel “diminished”? 

The divide between Indian nationalism and Hindu communalism or, as Modi calls it, Hindu nationalism, simply does not exist in their minds. 

That is why the entire Sangh Parivar hates Nehru and worships Patel.

Jaswant Singh asserted in Bombay on July 31, 1990, “The temple of Santosh Mehta is far more important than the temple of Nehru. We have to be idol breakers.” The legacy of Nehru was essentially westernised, he said. 

Somewhere the essence of India got eroded in the last 43 years, he said, capping it with this brazen falsehood: “Gai [Cow], Ganga and [the] Gita have now become communal symbols” (The Times of India, August 1, 1990). 

Is it any wonder that they idolise also V.D. Savarkar, who was indicted by Justice J.L. Kapur of the Supreme Court for complicity in the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhi (for details vide the writer’s Savarkar and Hindutva: The Godse Connection, chapter 5 on Gandhi’s murder; LeftWord, 2002). Advani got Savarkar’s portrait installed in Parliament House to face that of the man he got murdered.

If this cabal of self-confessed Hindu nationalists, as distinct from Indian nationalist, has been consistently lauding Patel, it is because it finds in him a soulmate. He is not praised by himself; significantly he is always pitted against Nehru. That the praise for Patel is invariably blended with a shrill denunciation of Nehru reveals the true purpose: It is to discard Indian nationalism in favour of Hindu nationalism and what goes with Indian nationalism, its secular credo. Nehru stood for both and remains a symbol of these ideals.

 His legacy must be discarded by our ambitious “idol breaker”. Nehru saw the menace early as former Foreign Secretary Y.D. Gundevia recorded in his enlightening memoirs. He asked the Prime Minister to address officers of the Ministry of External Affairs, at their usual weekly meeting, and meet the juniors especially. 

The Communist Party of India (CPI) had won power in Kerala. Gundevia began by asking, “What happens to the Services if the communists are elected to power, tomorrow, at the Centre, here in New Delhi?”

“He pondered over my long drawn out question and then said, looking across the room, ‘Communists, communists, communists! Why are all of you so obsessed with communists and communism? What is it that communists can do that we cannot do and have not done for the country? Why do you imagine the communists will ever be voted into power at the Centre?!’ There was a long pause after this and then he said, spelling it out slowly and very deliberately. ‘The danger to India, mark you, is not communism. It is Hindu right-wing communalism.’

“There was some discussion after this. Someone said something about the communist government in Kerala. Someone said something about the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha.… Towards the end he repeated his thesis. ‘The danger to India is not communism. It is Hindu right-wing communalism.’”—A communalism that deceptively masquerades as Indian nationalism as he had noted in 1951 (Outside the Archives, 1984; pages 209-210).

The Hindutva brigade, having tasted power at the Centre, is now making a desperate bid to return there, if need be, even on the strength of Narendra Modi’s coarse rhetoric, his despicable record on the Gujarat riots and his strident support to the RSS and Hindutva. Vallabhbhai Patel fits admirably as an iconic figure in this scheme.

White papers on States

Patel’s achievements have been hugely exaggerated; his grave failures totally overlooked. Historical illiterates who call him India’s Bismarck know little about either. 

The integration of Indian States into the Union of India was accomplished in two phases; their accession to the Union and their reorganisation and merger as Part B States, only to vanish into a proper uniformity with the other States. 

Patel’s two White Papers on Indian States (1948 and 1950) record his skilful endeavours in the second phase. The Secretary in his Ministry of States, the brilliant V.P. Menon’s book The Story of Integration of the Indian States records both the processes (Orient Longmans, 1956). 

His predecessor as Reforms Commissioner and confidant, H.V. Hodson, in his book The Great Divide (Hutchinson, 1969) meticulously records the first based on official records, including Mountbatten’s papers.

Clearly, it is the first phase, the accession and the unification of India, which was crucial. 

Once in the harem, the princes, demoralised already, needed little coaxing to merge their States. By August 15, 1947, the rulers of all the States—bar Junagadh, Kashmir and Hyderabad—had signed the Instrument of Accession to India (Menon; pages 115-6). 

Who brought that about? Both the writers describe the process. 

Menon describes in detail Mountbatten’s efforts from July 28 onwards. He kept Patel informed of them, who, on his part, also did his bit. But it was Mountbatten’s skills and Menon’s legal resourcefulness which truly accomplished the result. 

The pro-Jinnah Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, the Nawab of Bhopal, caused a patriotic revolt and, ironically, made India’s task easier.

Odd ideas on States

Quite apart from his integrity, Hodson’s record is too graphic to be dismissed. He went to Bangalore to meet his friend Menon and tape-recorded his testimony. It was Menon’s idea to press into service the draft Instrument of Accession, prepared a decade earlier, as the Government of India Act, 1935, was being enforced. 

Its federal part proved a non-starter. But Patel had odd ideas. “The Sardar told him [Mountbatten] that he need not bother about the States because after the transfer of power the States peoples would rise, depose their rulers and throw in their lot with the Congress. 

The Viceroy reminded him that the States had forces, trained and equipped by the British, ranging from a division in Hyderabad to personal bodyguards in small States, which would shoot down the rebels, and that the Princes were preparing themselves, on the advise of the Political Department, against any uprising. 

A civil war would result, and India would lose far more than she would gain from a peaceful settlement. 

Sardar Patel asked what he meant. The Viceroy replied that the peaceful settlement he had in mind was to allow the Rulers to retain their titles, extra-territorial rights and personal property or civil List, and in return they would join a Dominion—most of them India, a few, like Bahawalpur, Pakistan—only the three subjects of defence, external affairs and communications being reserved to the Central Government. Patel said he would think it over.

“When he next came to see the Viceroy, having meanwhile talked with V.P. Menon—and here the two accounts converge—Sardar Patel said, ‘I am prepared to accept your offer provided that you give me a full basket of apples.’ ‘What do you mean?’ asked Lord Mountbatten. ‘I’ll buy a basket with 565 apples’—the computed number of States—‘but if there are even two or three apples missing the deal is off.’ ‘This,’ said the Viceroy, ‘I cannot completely accept, but I will do my best. 

If I give you a basket with, say, 560 apples will you buy it?’ ‘Well, I might,’ replied Patel” (Hodson; pages 367-8). Thus Patel had outsourced the task of procuring the accessions—the apples in the basket—to Mountbatten and Menon. It is to these men the credit for the unification of India goes. 

As for Bismarck, one has only to read Jonathan Steinberg’s classic Bismarck: A Life (Oxford University Press, 2011) to realise what he went through to unite Germany and his statesmanship in international politics. It also demonstrates that history need not degenerate into hagiography (See also Henry Kissinger, “The White Revolutionary: Reflections on Bismarck”; Daedalus, summer, 1968; pages 888-924. A priceless volume with essays on Gandhi by Erik H. Erikson, on de Gaulle, Ataturk and others.

Patel and Kashmir

This was Nye’s Tammany Hall boss in full swing. Kashmir and Hyderabad felt the brunt of Patel’s tactics and the full impact of his rabidly communal approach. He chose an appropriate tool, the RSS boss M.S. Golwalkar, who was protected from arrest by Pant, though the Chief Secretary, Rajeshwar Dayal, had seized his papers containing plans for a pogrom of Muslims. 

One of the best books on the RSS is The Brotherhood in Saffron (Vistaar, 1987) by Walter Anderson, a respected official in the United States State Department who also served in the embassy in New Delhi, and Shridhar Damle. It is based inter alia on the RSS’ own papers. 

They wrote: “Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel solicited Golwalkar’s help in an effort to convince the Hindu Maharaja of Kashmir to merge his princely state with India. Golwalkar met the Maharaja in October 1947 and urged him to recruit Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs into his militia’’ (page 49).
To Patel, Kashmir was “a Hindu State, situated in Muslim surroundings”, an odd way to describe its overwhelmingly Muslim population (SPC, Volume 1, page 4). 

As for Nehru, “After all he is a Hindu and that a Kashmiri Hindu” (ibid, page 3). These letters, respectively, of June 19, 1946, and June 16, 1946, written in confidence, reflected his mindset. On Partition, he plumbed for the RSS to procure the State’s accession to India as a matter of course. In the first letter he poured scorn on Sheikh Abdullah (“supposed to be very popular”). 

The pattern was set. The Sheikh mattered not; only the Maharaja did. On July 3, 1947, even before the Radcliffe Report on the Punjab boundary was out, assigning Gurdaspur to India, Patel wrote to R.C. Kak, the Prime Minister, to assert that Kashmir had “no other choice’’ but to accede to India. On the same day he pressed the ruler, Hari Singh, to accede (ibid, pages 32-33).

Throughout his tenure as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Patel consistently supported the ruler against the people’s tribune, Abdullah, even to the point of overlooking the ruler’s threat on January 31, 1948, to secede from India (ibid, page 162; “withdrew the accession”).

He defended the RSS when Nehru complained of its activities there (ibid, pages 134-136). Patel turned a blind eye to the massacre of Muslims in Jammu, for which Hari Singh was culpable. He relied on four props—Hari Singh, his Deewan, the communal minded Mehrchand Mahajan and the I.B. Chief, B.N. Mullik. Patel suborned Mullik’s professional integrity to make him tailor his reports (“Bribes and Spies”, Frontline, November 29, 2013).

At a rally in Kolkata on New Year’s Day, 1952, Nehru said, “Just imagine what would have happened in Kashmir if the Jan Sangh or any other communal party had been at the helm of affairs [in 1947]…. Why would they [the people of Kashmir] live in a country where the Jan Sangh and the RSS are constantly beleaguering them. They will go elsewhere and they will not stay with us’’ (Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Volume 17; pages 77-78)

They would have done precisely that if instead of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel was Prime Minister of India. It was Gandhi and Nehru’s secularism which moved Sheikh Abdullah, not Patel’s pro-Hindu outlook.

As in Kashmir, so in Hyderabad. Patel turned a blind eye to the massacre of Muslims documented in the report by Pandit Sundarlal and colleagues. He disowned the report and was rude to its authors (SPC, Volume 9, page 244, vide the writer’s article on the report, “Of a massacre untold”, Frontline, March 16, 2001. For more details vide the writer’s book The Destruction of Hyderabad, Tulika Books, 2013). He hand-picked, to Mountbatten’s dismay, an obsessively communal K.M. Munshi to serve as India’s Agent-General in Hyderabad. Nehru and Patel went to Hyderabad separately after “the police action”, a quaint expression for a military effort by a Lieutenant-General, three Majors-General, a whole armoured division and the Air Force. 

This was not police action, this was war conducted by a powerful, organised army. It is dishonest to call it a police action. Nehru was gracious to the shattered Nizam. Patel was rude and plied him with taunts about the past. They were administered in a detailed charge sheet when he called on the Nizam in Hyderabad. A polite five-line letter of greetings by the Nizam to Patel after his visit added insult, this time in writing, calling on the defeated Nizam to show “sincere repentance”. Mean vindictiveness could not have gone further.

What does the entire record reveal but a man who was rabidly communal in his outlook? The dislike of Muslims hardened over time into antipathy towards them. A hostile Vallabhbhai Patel became an anti-Muslim leader in cahoots with elements who were after their blood, the RSS and the Mahasabha. All this was overlooked and a pocket-version of the Great Patel and Bismark emerged. Simultaneously, the process of denigration of Nehru picked up speed. 

Nehru foresaw the danger early enough. He told Wavell on July 14, 1945, that “some of the Congress Hindus were anti-Muslim and that the psychological factors were important” (TOP, Volume 5, pages ). This fitted Patel to perfection. For all his claims to fairness, the communalist in him could never be concealed. As Meredith wrote: Passions spin the plot: /We are betrayed by what is false within. This is truer still of those in the BJP and the RSS who came after him. They have his flaws; none of his gifts

No comments: