Skip to main content

Sardar made up his mind on Pakistan in Dec 1946 "before" Mountbatten's Partition Plan

By Hari Desai*
One has to be extra cautious while dealing with the history of towering personalities of the Indian freedom struggle, especially that of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (October 31, 1875 - December 15, 1950). Present-day politicians prefer to "pronounce” on his life and quote him according to their convenience like a blind person describing an elephant.
During his life time the Sardar used to caution Muslims about some of his opponents calling him “an enemy of Muslims”, whereas he has always been a true friend of Muslims. None can dispute the fact that the trinity of the freedom movement, i.e. Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel, differed in their approach, but all the three were unanimous on implementing decisions to achieve their goal to gain freedom from the British.
Even today, the Congress is being abused from public platforms as one responsible for Partition without bothering to understand that the first Prime Minister, Nehru, was not the only person responsible for it, and such abuses target Patel and the Mahatma as well. The era of towering personalities is gone, and dwarfs have taken over. They judge towering personalities of yesteryears with their own yardsticks.
Even during the freedom struggle era, persons like Maulana Azad, who was Congress President, commented in his autobiographical book “India Wins Freedom”, “(Mohammad Ali) Jinnah may have raised the flag of Partition but now the real flag bearer was Patel”. Indeed, Patel accepted the responsibility of Partition under certain circumstances along with Nehru. Both had to concede Pakistan.
Patel disclosed ‘the inner history’ in the Constituent Assembly:
“I give this inner history which nobody knows. I agreed to Partition as a last resort, when we had reached a stage when we could have lost all. We had five or six members in the Government, the Muslim League members. They had already established themselves as members who had come to partition the country. At that stage we agreed to Partition; we decided that Partition could be agreed upon the terms that the Punjab should be partitioned -- they wanted the whole of it -- that Bengal should be partitioned -- they wanted Calcutta and whole of it.
"Mr Jinnah did not want a truncated Pakistan, but he had to swallow it. We said that these two provinces should be partitioned. I made a further condition that in two months’ time power should be transferred and an Act should be passed by Parliament in that time, if it guaranteed that the British Government would not interfere with the question of the Indian states.”

Patel continued:
“We said, ‘We will deal with that question; leave it to us; you take no sides. Let paramountcy be dead; you do not directly or indirectly try to revive it in any manner. You do not interfere. We shall settle our problem. The Princes are ours and we shall deal with them.’ On these conditions we agreed to Partition and on those conditions the Bill in Parliament was passed in two months, agreed to by all the three parties. Show me any instance in the history of the British Parliament when such a Bill was passed in two months. But this was done. It gave birth to this Parliament” (CAD Vol X, October 10, 1949). 
Rajmohan Gandhi, the biographer of Patel, reveals about the Sardar making up mind for conceding Pakistan almost in December 1946, much before Viceroy Lord Mountbatten announced the Partition Plan on June 3, 1947.
Sardar Patel never needed certificate from anybody that he was a secular leader despite efforts by a section of people to brand him a Hindu leader. Patel supported the Mahatma’s efforts for Hindu-Muslim unity throughout his life, including the Khilafat movement and resisting India being made theocratic state even after independence. He considered “the Hindu Rashtra as a concept of madmen.”
In his speech on January 6, 1948 at Lucknow, Patel said:
“I am a true friend of Muslims although I have been described as their greatest enemy. I believe in plain speaking. I do not know how to mince matters. I want to tell them frankly that mere declarations of loyalty to the Indian Union will not help them at this critical juncture. They must give practical proof of their declarations. I ask them why they do not unequivocally denounce Pakistan for attacking Indian territory with the connivance of Frontier tribesmen. Is it not their duty to condemn all acts of aggression against India?”
There was so much hue and cry on what Patel told Muslims in Lucknow, and the Mahatma had to defend him. It did hurt the Sardar. In a January 1948 letter, Gandhi wrote to Patel saying:
"Many Muslim friends had complained to me of the Sardar's so-called anti-Muslim attitude. I was able to assure the critics that they were wrong in isolating him from Nehru and me, whom they gratuitously raise to the sky. The Sardar had a bluntness of speech which sometimes unintentionally hurt, though his heart was expansive enough to accommodate all."
Writes Moin Shakir in “Vallabhbhai Patel: A Biography of his Vision and Ideas”, edited by Verinder Grover:
“The Sardar also believed that the Muslims should be given legitimate safeguards as they were not foreigners in India…Patel expected a change of outlook on the part of the Muslim community. They should forget their past and should involve themselves in the processes of nation-building”.
The Sardar was never apologetic about his decision of Partition. In one of his public lectures on August 11, 1947, Patel said:
“People say that Congress partitioned India. It is true. We have taken this responsibility after proper thinking and not because of any fear or pressure. I was strong opponent of partition of India. But when I sat in the Central Government I saw that from a peon to high officers are infested with communal hatred. In such conditions instead of fighting and tolerating the interference of the third party, it is better to separate.”
Patel was the person who presented the unanimous report of the minorities in the Constituent Assembly. He said:
“It is up to the majority community, by its generosity, to create a sense of confidence in the minorities, and so also it will be the duty of the minority community to forget the past and to reflect on what the country has suffered owing to the ‘sense of fairness’, which the foreign rulers thought was necessary to keep balance between community and community.”
Patel was never shy of speaking out truth.
---
*Socio-political historian and senior journalist based in Gujarat. Contact: haridesai@gmail.com. A version of this article first appeared in Asian Voice

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
ONE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE ABOUT PATEL BUT THE FACT REMAINS THAT DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE HE WAS AS INVOLVED AS NEHRU

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Women, business, law: India scores worst among all BRICS, several African nations

By Rajiv Shah
A new World Bank report ranks India 125th in its Women, Business and the Law (WBL) index among 187 economies it seeks to analyse across the globe. The report's main aim claims to be to "gain new insight into how women’s employment and entrepreneurship choices are affected by legal gender discrimination. On a scale of 100, India's score is 71.25, worse than the global average of 74.71.