It is amusing that after virtually ignoring Sardar Patel, one of the tallest leaders India has ever produced, for almost six decades, the Congress has suddenly remembered that he was a Congressman. How many in the Congress or the BJP know that October 31 is his birth anniversary? Patel united India and never believed in divisive politics. Had he been our first Prime Minister, surely India would have been different. Instead of fighting over his historical legacy, politicians would be doing a great service if they developed his strength of character, honesty and concern for the well-being of his compatriots. He belongs to the whole nation.
There is no doubt that India would have been different had Patel been the first Prime Minister. But different kinds of problems — other than dynastic politics or Kashmir — would have existed. Both Patel and Nehru were true nationalists even though their perceptions differed. Comparing them and playing politics over their legacies is a mark of disrespect to both of them.
G. Mani Sankar,
Nehru is perhaps one of the most misunderstood leaders, with people accusing him of being extremely idealistic, indecisive and weak. But none of the charges makes sense, especially when his decisions are viewed in the light of the uncertainty that prevailed after independence. It was only due to his able leadership in those turbulent times that values like sovereignty, democracy and, above all, strict adherence to the Constitution were deeply imbibed. With the passage of time, we have started taking these values for granted and started questioning Nehru’s role in nation building.
The contention that India would have been different had Patel been the country’s first Prime Minister is hypothetical. Every leader has his plus and minus qualities. Can we say India would have been more prosperous had Gandhiji been the first Prime Minister? A great leader need not necessarily be a successful Prime Minister.
A. Abdul Razack,
The BJP has chosen Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for 2014 because it sees him as the most charismatic leader, even though Sushma Swaraj and L.K. Advani have better credentials to become Prime Minister. Jawaharlal Nehru was the principal hero of the 1940s and Sardar Patel had no chance to outdo him. Mr. Modi ought to realise this fact. Fifty years from now, people may say similar things about him.
The sermons of our Prime Minister and the Prime Minister-in-waiting have eclipsed the real issue of hero worship in the form of putting up statues. If statues really worked, Gandhiji’s nation would have been prosperous; Ms Mayawati’s State would have been equitable; and the U.S., where the Statue of Liberty stands tall, would not have infringed on civil liberties. Let us remember our leaders by reading about them and celebrating their spirit in our day-to-day life.
Every time Sardar Patel is mentioned in the media or political discourses, with people saying ‘Patel would have been a better Prime Minister;’ ‘Patel and Nehru didn’t get along,’ I feel like Woody Allen in one of the scenes from Annie Hall. Just as he wishes that Marshall McLuhan would come out of nowhere and chastise a pseudo-intellectual professor standing behind him in a queue, rambling incorrect things about Marshall’s works, I too wish Sardar Patel would emerge from nowhere and confirm that all those speaking about him have actually not studied history, his life or his works.