Sardar Patel and myths associated with him

Dia Sardar Patel want India to be partitioned?

A lot has been said about the pain and anguish felt by Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Jawaharlal Lal Nehru during the partition of India. However, there was one person who wanted the partition to happen and it was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Did Patel favour partition?

When the nation was being partitioned the resources of both India and Pakistan was also being partitioned. The Army was also being partitioned. During that period, the Indian Army had Muslims contributing 50% of the total and Patel was worried that they will be mutiny, if partition was not done and the nation will be engulfed in a civil war. Patel felt that when the British Army left at the time of Independence, India will not be able to handle the civil war.

Did Sardar Patel predict Pakistan’s future?

Patel had predicted that Pakistan will be a failed state. He based his prediction on the fact that Muslim League did not have any credible leaders like the Congress to guide the new nation. Congress had many politically wise leaders like Nehru, Patel, C. Rajagopalachari, Krishna Menon who led the country in the future. Patel predicted a strong army will today or tomorrow will take on the reins of power and this is exactly what happened in Pakistan.

Beliefs far from truth

Another myth which has been served is that Patel led to the merger of princely states into the Indian Union. This is far from the truth. The merger of princely states was already on in 1935 under the Government of India Act of 1935.  Linlithgow who championed the act through British Parliament became the Viceroy of India in 1936. 

The only states that were giving trouble was Hyderabad, Manipur, Junagarh and Kashmir. Junagarh population rose against the then ruler of Junagarh and consequently he had to flee to Pakistan. The plebiscite later led to the union of the state with India. Similarly, the merger of Manipur, about which very little is talked about, was achieved due to the efforts of the then Governor of Assam, Sri Prakasa.

Another fact which must be borne was the role of Louis Mountbatten who was instrumental in getting most princely states sign the Instrument of accession. He categorically stated that the Crown only recognized two dominions – India and Pakistan and the princely states have to join either of the two.

Another myth propagated was that Kashmir or Indian-administered Kashmir was obtained due to Patel and the valor of the Indian army. No doubt the Indian Army fought valiantly and was able to push back the invaders. However, the role of Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Gulam, and DP Dhar who managed to start a people’s movement in favor of accession to India cannot be underestimated.

Therefore the myth that the British left India in chaos and Patel, like a modern day Bairam Khan, managed to unite India is an affront to thousands of freedom fighters who believed in the concept of India and led the freedom struggle. The efforts by present government to see through a telescope the efforts of thousands of freedom fighters and view with a microscope the role of Patel is wrong.

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