The culmination of the 125th birth anniversary of India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on Monday provided a platform to the Congress-led government to use his writings to show that it was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who warmed up to Partition before the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Criticised by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for allowing Partition, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram read from Maulana Azad’s book India Wins Freedom , to point out that the last Viceroy of India, Louis Mountbatten, “turned his attention” to Nehru only after Sardar Patel became “amenable” towards Partition. “Jawaharlal was not at first at all willing and reacted violently against the very idea of Partition but Lord Mountbatten persisted till step by step Jawaharlal’s opposition was worn down.”
Mr. Chidambaram was speaking at a function to release a commemorative and a circulation coin to mark Maulana Azad’s birth anniversary. On Sunday, while addressing a function at Kheda in Gujarat, Mr. Modi had accused the Congress of changing Inida’s geography by allowing Partition.
Mr. Modi also held the Congress guilty of promoting only the Nehru-Gandhi legacy; stating the sacrifices of many freedom fighters, including “Lal, Bal, Pal” [Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal], were forgotten in the Congress party’s devotion to one family.
Further, he asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh what his government was doing to promote the legacy of Maulana Azad. “Monday is his 125th birth anniversary. Why is that being forgotten? Shouldn’t his birth anniversary be commemorated? He was a nationalist Muslim who courageously stood for the unity of India,” he said.
Long before he posed these questions to the Congress, the Centre had already sent out invitations for several functions to commemorate his birth anniversary, including the launch of the Maulana Azad Heritage Portal.