India’s independence story has many brave incidents with inspirational personalities, but there are also such stories which will make us bend our head in shame.
While many freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad, Rajguru made the country proud by fighting and sacrificing their life for the country, there was always one man who shamed India and projected it as incapable. It was none other than Jawaharlal Nehru.
In the year 1947, after Indian got independence, the country had British administered regions and 530+ regions administered by local monarchs. Many Kings wanted to get back their land and stay as an independent country. But the great Nehru could not convince the Kings to stay united and declare India as one Nation.
He gave this tough job to Sardar Patel. Sardar integrated 562 princely states with the swiftness and alacrity of a Bismarck. He was a man with great integrity and wanted Indians to be united. But there were 3 states in the last which disagreed to be part of Indian democracy, they were Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagadh.
After Independence, Pakistan eyed Kashmir and states like Lakshdweep. Sardar Patel always knew Jinnah was not trust able and had anticipated troubles even before Independence. Pakistanis had already planned to occupy Lakshadweep and had sent many naval ships to occupy this isolated island. But Sardar had already warned the Indian navy which intercepted the Pakistani Ships and immediately sent them back. Thus a major disaster was averted.
Sardar Patel made a master strategy to occupy Hyderabad and Junagadh. But the task of bringing Kashmir into Indian province was given taken by Nehru and the result is Kashmir problem what we see today. Nehru not only turned it into a permanent pain in the neck but during his reign, we lost 1.25 lakh sqkm of Indian land to China and Pakistan.
Before the states of Hyderabad and Junagadh got integrated into India, Sardar Patel faced huge challenges and hurdles, but his determination and commitment never made him back off the job. But on the other hand, Nehru was totally hopeless of the situation and did not believe that Patel was capable of getting the states back. So he planned to give away the Independence and wanted Lord Mountbatten to take control of the Indian territory which was stopped by Patel again. This was exactly the reason why Mountbatten was made the governor general of India even after Independence.
Nehru’s blunders are not just one or two but one can write a whole book on that.
The book, Inside Story of Sardar Patel: The Diary of Maniben Patel gives complete details of how Nehru tried to go slow and soft on the Hyderabad action, apparently to appease Muslims. But the Sardar told C Rajgopalachari in no uncertain terms that nothing would stop him from pursuing strong action to remove “an ulcer”, and that Nehru should remain within his limits.
The diary says: “Sardar Patel bluntly told Rajaji that he would not want the future generations to blame and curse him for allowing an ulcer in the heart of India. On one side is western Pakistan and on the other side eastern Pakistan (with their idea of (a) pan-Islamic bloc…(they want to) come to Delhi and establish the Mughal empire again. Once we enter Hyderabad, it is no longer an international affair. It is the state ministry’s function. How long are you and Panditji going to bypass the ministry of the states and carry on?” (September 13, 1948).
The book says that Nehru was the biggest hurdle for any development in India, he only focussed on appeasement politics since the time of Independence. “Sardar Patel was not happy with the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Pact as it did not stop the exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan which went on increasing and a large number of Hindus continued to migrate to India. Sardar Patel observed that he was not so much worried about the killings, after all 30 lakh people had died in the Bengal famine, but he could not stand assaults on women and their forcible conversion to Islam.” (April 5, 1950)
The Sardar further said: “Hindus had been totally finished in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Frontier Provinces. It was being repeated in East Pakistan and people like Hafizur Rehman, who had stayed on in India, would be clamouring for (a) homeland in India. What would be our position then? Our posterity would call us traitors.” (April 24, 1950)
So, Sardar Patel always wanted the entire Jammu Kashmir to be under Indian rule and never agreed to compromise. But Nehru was worried about his position and the growing popularity of Patel.
Nehru in a process to prove himself worth, took the Kashmir issue to United Nations. Sardar advised Nehru not to take Kashmir issue to the UN and said, India should extricate itself from the UN patiently and then solve the Kashmir problem forever. He was also unhappy when reports came that the fertile land left behind in Jammu by Muslim zamindars who had migrated to Pakistan was not being given to Hindu refugees. Instead, the Sheikh was insisting on settling only Muslim refugees on such land (May 1, 1949)… (there were reports) that the majority of government employees were pro-Pakistan.”
Nehru was a close friend of Sheikh Abdullah, while the Sardar didn’t trust him at all. “Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, on the other hand, was insisting that the Sardar should settle the Kashmir issue as he had done Hyderabad. But Nehru did not allow Sardar to take any decisions on Kashmir.
When the issue of Kashmir got complicated, Nehru and his loyalists brought a proposal to retain Jammu with India and handing over the rest of the state to Pakistan. Patel was utterly disgraced with the way Nehru behaved and snapped immediately saying “We want the entire territory… and battle for the whole of Kashmir.” (July 23, 1949). He out rightly rejected the proposal and said he would never agree to this proposal until he is alive.
So the brave decision of Sardar Patel helped India to retain Kashmir with India, or Kashmir today would have been part of Pakistan.