The article “Narendra Modi’s Patel test” (May 2) is quite interesting. But the fact is there are no Gandhijis or Patels/Azads now. Today, politics is a number game to get to the top and hang on.
The agenda of political parties is to capture power with the support of coalition partners, enjoy the perquisites and power. Only the numbers rule.
Even if the situation in the BJP in 2013 is similar to what prevailed in the Congress of 1946-47, Narendra Modi should not be asked to sacrifice his ambitions. If there was ever a wrong decision made by Mahatma Gandhi, it was perhaps choosing Nehru over Sardar Patel. Had Patel become the Prime Minister, we would not have had the Nehru family in politics.
That would have meant no Kashmir problem, no Punjab problem, and we might not have lost the war with China in 1962 (Patel had warned Nehru that China’s designs did not appear clean and if not tackled we might be fighting a war with them in about a decade’s time). Democracy would have matured early and we might have been a much stronger nation.
To suggest that Nehru was not a “great organiser and leader with an earthy sense of India and its politics” that Patel was is wrong. It was Nehru who kept India’s unity and integrity intact after Independence, and is widely regarded the champion of democracy. Gandhiji's preference for Nehru was not out of personal intimacy but because of the credentials he possessed. Patel was known to be friendly with the capitalist class while Nehru was an ardent socialist. Patel looked at the West as an ally while Nehru believed in Non-Alignment. And, above all, Patel was harsh on Indian Muslims and soft on Hindu extremists while Nehru was secular. Patel said during his speech in January 1948 in Lucknow: “For Indian Muslims it is not enough to give mere declarations of loyalty to the Indian Union, they must give practical proof of their declarations”.
Gandhiji knew India could not be built by Patel. And this conviction of his made Nehru his choice.