Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were two pillars of the national movement led by Mahatma Gandhi (Nov. 14). Though it is a fact that they had ideological differences, they were not antagonistic towards each other. An extract from the biography, Patel, a Life byRajmohan Gandhi is quite revealing: “The doctors decided that he [Patel] should move to Bombay’s mild weather. The night before his departure Jawaharlal called by and said to Vallabhabai: “Look, we have to have a frank talk. But you are not to worry. You have to take care of yourself and get well soon.” Earlier that day, Patel had said to Gadgil: “I am not going to live. Make me a promise.” When Gadgil said yes, the Sardar took his friend’s hand in his and continued: “Whatever your differences with Panditji, do not leave him.”
Today, neither the Congress nor the BJP can claim the legacy of the legendary leaders of the freedom movement as both parties have deviated from the path of these precursors. Yet, they are trying to whip up passions. The fact that India lags behind a number of African countries, as shown in the latest edition of the Human Development Report, is ample testimony to this. In trying to cover up their abject failure, the parties are now engaged in a pointless slugfest.
S. Viswanathan Nair,
Of late, pointless comments being made by some “tall” political leaders regarding India’s first leadership have left many of us bewildered. No vital decision in history is free from criticism. It is the unselfish attitude and devotion of our freedom fighters that should be brought to light, not hypothetical factors.