Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: BJP veteran LK Advani has added fresh fuel to an ongoing debate on the relationship between India`s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel by saying that the former vehemently opposed the latter`s policies.
Writing in his blog, Advani quoted a book `INDIA`S BISMARK` to claim how the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru opposed the suggestions and recommendations of Sardar Patel, then Home Minister.
In his latest blog, the veteran BJP leader quoted the excerpts from the book, “In a democratic set-up, cabinet sanction was essential for Police Action. Patel faced a formidable task in overcoming Nehru’s reluctance. At one of the meetings of the defence committee, of which Nehru was the chairman, there was so much bitterness that Sardar Patel walked out. “Seeing his seat vacant,” V.P. Menon told a Rotary meeting in Bombay, “I too walked out five minutes later.” This seemed to have shaken Nehru out of his complacent mood, and mellowed his opposition. Later, at a meeting attended by the governor general (Rajagopalachari), the prime minister, the home minister (Patel), and secretary to the states ministry (Menon), “it was decided to order troops into Hyderabad”.
Patel had yet to face the Hamlet in Nehru. The British commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, General Roy Bucher, persuaded Nehru that “even at that late stage the campaign should be called off as militarily risky, and hazardous on grounds of internal security in the whole country”. About midnight on 12 September, after he had spoken to Nehru, Bucher attempted “a rare feat” in pulling Patel “out of bed at that hour” and advised him to at least postpone action for fear of air attacks on Bombay and Ahmedabad. Patel reminded Bucher “how London had suffered during the Great War, and coolly assured him that Ahmedabad and Bombay both could stand up to an attack if it came”.
Gen. Bucher, K.M. Munshi writes, “was hesitant throughout. He overestimated the capacity of the Hyderabad army, underestimated that of his own troops, and knew not the ability of the Sardar …to deal with the problems of internal law and order. Like most Englishmen, he was unable to realise that no price was too high to be paid for eliminating the Razakar menace which threatened the very existence of India”. In H.V.R. Iengar’s view, “the verdict of history will be that the Sardar was right” and a verdict with which Nehru wholeheartedly agreed later.
Indian troops marched into Hyderabad on 13 September. The campaign was named “Operation Polo”. It lasted barely 108 hours!
In his previous blog, Advani had claimed that Nehru even called his Home Minister a “total communalist” when the latter suggested that Army be sent to take over a defiant Hyderabad after Independence.
Advani has referred to extracts of the book - “The Story of an Era Told without Ill Will” by MKK Nair, which deals with the “sharp exchange” between Nehru and Patel in a Cabinet meeting.
The then Nizam of Hyderabad, who wanted to accede to Pakistan, had sent an emissary to the neighbouring country and transferred a huge sum of money to the government there.
The Nizam`s officials were reportedly heaping atrocities on locals.
“At a cabinet meeting, Patel had described these things and demanded that army be sent to end the terror-regime in Hyderabad. Nehru, who usually spoke calmly... spoke losing his composure, ‘You are a total communalist. I will never accept your recommendation... Patel remained unperturbed but left the room with his papers,” Advani said, quoting from Nair’s book.
BJP has of late been trying to project Sardar Patel as a leader close to the Hindutva ideology.
On Patel`s 138th anniversary on October 31, Advani had heaped praise on India`s first home minister at the inauguration of a project to build a 182 metre tall statue- the tallest in the world- of the leader.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is behind this endeavour, said India needs Patel`s secularism which united people and not the "vote bank secularism" that is being practiced today.
Both Advani and Modi have sought to fashion themselves as inheritors of Patel`s legacy.
BJP has also alleged that Sardar Patel contribution was never hailed by the Congress and that it only eulogized the Nehru-Gandhi family.
With PTI inputs