"India would have gone on the lines of Pakistan, had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel become Prime Minister of India after independence in 1947," said Dalit activist and author Kancha Ilaiah at the Times LitFest on Sunday.
According to a report in the Times of India, Ilaiah also said that Patel would have given the task of writing the Constitution to the 'believers of Manusmriti' instead of BR Ambedkar.
"He (Patel) wouldn't have allowed Ambedkar to write the Constitution. He was close to Hindu Mahasabha... Believers of Manusmriti would've written it. We would've gone on the lines of Pakistan, our democracy would've collapsed. But for the first 17 years of democracy, India would've been Pakistan," said Ilaiah.
During the discussion on 'Re-imagining the Republic's icons: Patel, Nehru and Ambedkar,' BJP member Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was also a part of the panel, said the country's first home minister ranked lowest on the list, "the least contemporary, doesn't contribute to social unity, equality or political consensus".
Kulkarni, chief of the Observer Research Foundation, also added that, "Patel is least useful in addressing today's concerns. We don't need an Iron Man, we need leaders with heart who have an inclusive approach."
Kulkari also said we need to 'de-demonise' Jinnah to bring India and Pakistan closer.