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SARDAR VALLABHBHAI PATEL

 
By : sharad bhat      On: November 30, 2012
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On Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 8:05 PM, Ramesh Bapat <rsvbapat@gmail.com> wrote:
Concluding para will tell you why we as a nation face the problems
that don’t seem to leave us.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India,
whose 137th birth anniversary was on October 31, was insulted, humiliated and
disgraced by the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, during a Cabinet
meeting. “You are a complete communalist and I’ll never be a party to your
suggestions and proposals,” Nehru shouted at Patel during a crucial Cabinet
meeting to discuss the liberation of Hyderabad by the Army from the tyranny of
the Razakkars, the then Nizam’s private
army.

“A shocked Sardar Patel collected his papers from the table and slowly walked out
of the Cabinet room. That was the last time Patel attended a Cabinet meeting. He also
stopped speaking to Nehru since then,” writes MKK Nair, a 1947 batch IAS officer, in
his memoirs “With No Ill Feeling to Anybody”. Nair had close ties with both Sardar and
VP Menon, his Man Friday.

Though Nair has not written the exact date of the above mentioned Cabinet meeting, it
could have happened during the weeks prior to the liberation of Hyderabad by the Indian
Army. Operation Polo, the mission to liberate Hyderabad from the Nizam, began on
September 13, 1948 and culminated on September 18. While Sardar Patel wanted direct
military action to liberate Hyderabad from the rape and mayhem perpetrated by the
2,00,000 Razakars, Nehru preferred the United Nations route.

Nair writes that Nehru’s personal hatred for Sardar Patel came out in the open on
December 15, 1950, the day the Sardar breathed his last in Bombay (now Mumbai).
“Immediately after he got the news about Sardar Patel’s death, Nehru sent two
notes to the Ministry of States. 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.

“But Menon convened a meeting of all secretaries and asked them to furnish the names of
those who want to attend the last rites of Patel. He did not mention anything about the note
sent by Nehru. Menon paid the entire cost of the air tickets for those secretaries who
expressed their wish to attend Sardar’s last journey. This further infuriated Nehru,” Nair has
written about his memoirs in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

Nair’s friendship with Patel began during the former’s posting in Hyderabad as a civilian
officer of the Army. “I was a bachelor and my guest house was a rendezvous of
all those in the inner circle of the then Nizam of Hyderabad. Every night they
arrived with bundles of currency notes. We gambled and played flash and the
stakes were high. During the game I served them the finest Scotch. After a
couple of drinks, the princes and the junior Nawabs would open their minds and
reveal the secret action plans being drawn out in the Nizam’s palace.
Once intoxicated, they would tell me about the plans to merge Hyderabad
with Pakistan after independence. This was information that no one
outside the Nawab’s close family members and the British secret service were privy to.
But I ensured that this information reached directly to Sardar Patel and thus grew our relation,”
writes Nair.

The relation between Nair and Sardar Patel was such that the former’s director
general in the ministry told him once: “Sardar Patel keeps an open house for
you.” Nair, who worked in various ministries during his three-decade long civil
service career, writes that the formation of North East Frontier Service under
the Ministry of External Affairs by Nehru and the removal of the affairs of the Jammu &
Kashmir from the Ministry of Home Affairs are the major reasons behind the turmoil in
both the regions.

“This was done by Nehru to curtail the wings of Sardar Patel,” Nair has
written. Though Sardar Patel was known as a no-nonsense man devoid of any
sense of humour, Nair has written about lighter moments featuring him. The one
centres around VP Menon with whom Patel had a special relation. Menon had to
face the ire of Nesamani Nadar, a Congress MP from Kanyakumari, during
his visit to Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the reorganisation of States. Nadar
barged into Menon’s suite in the State Guest House and shouted at him for not
obeying his diktats. Menon, who was enjoying his quota of sun-downer, asked
Nadar to get out of his room. A furious Nadar sent a six-page letter to Sardar
Patel trading all kinds of charges against Menon. “He was fully drunk when I
went to meet him in the evening and he abused me using the filthiest of
languages,” complained Nadar in his letter.

Sardar Patel, who read the letter in full asked his secretary V Shankar, an ICS
officer: “Shankar, does VP take drinks?” Shankar, who was embarrassed by the
question, had to spill the beans. “Sir, Menon takes a couple of drinks in the
evening,” he said. Sardar was curious to know what was Menon’s favorite drink.
Shankar replied that Menon preferred only Scotch. “Shankar, you
instruct all government secretaries to take Scotch in the evening,” Sardar told
Shankar. Nair writes that this anecdote was a rave in the Delhi evenings for a
number of years!
Balraj Krishna (92), who authored Sardar’s biography, told The Pioneer that Nehru was
opposed to Babu Rajendra Prasad, the then President, travelling to Bombay to pay
his last respects to Patel. “But Prasad insisted and made it to Bombay,” said Krishna.
MV Kamath, senior journalist, said though Nehru too attended the funeral of Patel,
it was C Rajagopalachari, who delivered the funeral oration.

Prof MGS Narayanan, former chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research, said there
was no reason to disbelieve what Nair has written. “But his memoirs did not get
the due recognition it deserved. It is a historical chronicle of pre-and post
independent India,” he said. IF only Sardar had become PM, as per the votes of CWC,
and Gandhi had not dissuaded him,in favour of sulking Nehru..many of the country's
problems would never have seen the light of day.....!!


--
R.G BAPAT

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