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Nehru and Patel: The Power-Struggle that Never was

By Align India Editors. First Published on 03 September 2020

Image Credit: Rediff

If you compare a historical decision by current context then you will either find it hard to believe the higher levels of morality or be disgusted with the regressive attitude of that time. The idea that Sardar Patel decided to withdraw his candidature because Mahatma Gandhi asked him to is one such instance. The Sardar was not a helpless Eklavya and the Mahatma was not serving a king.

Patel was 75 and Nehru was 60 years old at the time of independence. Patel had well-documented health issues, and died before the first General Elections. Even if he had become the PM, it wouldn’t have lasted long. India’s first PM was elected 14 months after Patel’s passing away.

Interestingly, the party that is trying to appropriate Patel has parked its 75 plus members into Margdarshak Mandal. Yet it rues the fact that Patel was not made our first PM.

Let this be clear. There is no love lost between them and Patel. It was he who banned BJP’s parent organisation, the RSS, after the Mahatma’s assassination. His ideology of the rule of law, protection of civil liberties, and pluralistic democracy, was in complete contrast with the RSS ideology and way of thinking, which was openly flirting with Hitler and Mussolini’s murderous fascism.

Then why are they co-opting Patel?

Nehru, Patel leaving the viceregal lodge in Shimla in 1946

For two reasons. Firstly, they have no heroes of their own in India’s long and brutal struggle for independence. Whoever they had was an agent for the British or wrote apology letters to them. Secondly, at the time of Independence the tallest leaders were Nehru, Maulana Azad & Patel. Azad is of the wrong religion in their dream of Hindu Rashtra. Nehru is their bete noire because he was the antithesis of what RSS stands for. Incidentally, as fate willed, Nehru’s successors are the only opposition left for the saffron brigade. Unless they degrade them, their own future will remain uncertain in a democracy.

The pseudo-historical and false notion of Sardar Patel vs Nehru was simply constructed to divide people’s opinion. Incessant propaganda has projected Nehru as a power grabber and the Sardar as helpless shishya of a scheming Mahatma who enabled Nehru’s aspirations. The fact is that Nehru was the INC president when the British government invited INC to form the government. Azad preceded him. It could have been him too. It is said that Congress State Committees voted for Patel, while it remains unclear what they voted for. It is now considered to be highly likely that they were voting for Congress President and not PM, a distinction the Hon. Home Minister would happily affirm today. We were a new nation being born, it was a tumultuous time. Contrast this with the BJP’s complete lack of respect for state election mandates today, which is no conspiracy theory that allegedly happened 70 years ago.

But history never changes with power. And they know our country’s history as well as we do- and they are terrified by it. They know that when India burned, their hands held the flame, while the Congress’ leadership was the only force to oppose, as Bapu put it, ‘the vivisection of India’ until the last push. While the Sangh cheered it on, believing an India bereft of 10 crore of its Muslims was a step closer toward an ideal theocratic state, never mind the tens of lakhs of Hindus who perished as well. Here’s another inconvenient truth for the Prime Minister- the leadership of his beloved RSS refused to fly the Indian flag at their Nagpur headquarters until 2002. These are the same people who wish to fire bullets at the anti-national traitors they claim infect this country from top to bottom. Perhaps they ought to start cleaning their own house first.

Today, the brethren of Gandhi’s killers and the apologists of Empire seek to extend an association with the man who unified the country on the groundwork of a pluralistic, democratic constitution, an association so audaciously false that Sardar Patel would be lamenting why his liberal-minded Prime Minister stopped him from permanently outlawing the RSS for what it was- an army defined by their hate for India.

(Align India helps you dismantle propaganda piece-by-piece, so that Indian democracy stays alive. The deafening din of bigotry and jingoism has made us forget Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Shastri, and scores of other leaders who built India based on the values of peace and ethics, standing up for the downtrodden and the voiceless. Our effort is aimed at reviving these core values as enshrined in the Constitution of India while fiercely protecting the diversity, which defines the idea of India.)

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