New Delhi: Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said that if Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had become the first prime minister of India, the fate of the "country would have been different".
Speaking at the function at Vijay Chowk to mark Sardar Patel's birth anniversary as National Unity Day, Naidu said Sardar Patel was foremost among leaders who had made sacrifices for country's freedom.
Naidu said millions of people in the country have a feeling that history has not done justice to Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India.
Naidu also made a veiled attack on previous Congress governments, saying that both Nehru and Patel were like eyes and ears of Mahatma Gandhi but Patel had not got his due.
"Sardar and Nehru were like two eyes and ears of Mahatma Gandhi. But where does Patel lie in the scheme of things after his death (in 1950)," Naidu said.
He said Patel single-handedly unified India after Independence at a time of trial and tribulation.
"Such a great person. People used to think and I was also one among them that had Sardar Patel been the first prime minister of India, the fate of India would have been different, the situation would have been different. That was feeling of millions of people across the country. What has happened has happened," Naidu said.
He said history had often proved that "every crisis has found its man".
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that rulers of some provinces were toying with the idea of separation and ruler of Hyderabad was keen to join Pakistan but Sardar Patel brought about integration of the country with total resoluteness.
"Do our history books, school curriculum present a fair and balanced account of such legacies?...Should we not give a balanced account of history to our post-Independence generation? This is the objective of our government's decision to observer Sardar Patel's anniversary as Rashtriya Ekta Divas," Naidu said.
He said freedom came about due to hard efforts and sacrifices of many great leaders and Sardar Patel was "foremost of such leaders both during and after Independence".
Naidu said observance of Patel's anniversary as National Unity Day was not intended to belittle any other legacies or contribution of great leaders.
"Pure and simple, our intention is to do justice to words and deeds of Sardar Patel," he said.