VALLABHBHAI PATEL -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography
VALLABHBHAI PATEL -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography
Vallabhbhai Patel was born on October 31,1875, in a farmer's family in Nadiad, Gujarat. His father, Zaverbhai, had served in the army of Jhansi ki Rani, and his mother, Ladbai, was a deeply religious woman.
Vallabhbhai's initial schooling was in Gujarati. His brother Vithalbhai, after completing middle school, had enrolled himself in English tutorial classes in a nearby town. Vallabhbhai followed suit. Vallabhbhai matriculated from Nadiad High School in 1897.
Vallabhbhai was married to Zaverbai in 1891. The couple had two children-a daughter Maniben, born in April of 1904, and a son Dayabhai, born in November of 1905. Zaverbai died in January of 1909.
Vallabhbhai sailed for England in August of 1910 to study law. He qualified as a barrister in 1913 and returned to India to a lucrative practice in Ahmedabad.
Gandhiji started coming to the Gujarat Club to give lectures. Vallabhbhai was impressed with Gandhiji and slowly began to adopt his views. The relationship between Gandhiji and Vallabhbhai was concretely defined when Gandhiji was elected the President of the Gujarat Sabha and Vallabhbhai the Secretary, in 1917. It was a relationship of a guru (teacher) and disciple.
Vallabhbhai got his first opportunity to utilize Gandhiji's philosophy of satyagraha in 1918 for the farmers of Kaira.
Vallabhbhai took to spinning the charkha, boycotted foreign goods and clothes and burned his foreign possessions on public bonfires. He participated in the Nagpur flag satyagraha from May to August in 1923 in protest· against the stopping of a procession which carried the national flag.
In 1928, Vallabhbhai once again came to the rescue of the farmers, this time it was in Bardoli, which was then a part of Surat district. So pleased was Gandhiji with Vallabhbhai's effort that he gave him the title of 'Sardar' or leader.
On March 12, 1930, Sardar Patel left for Dandi to prepare for Gandhiji's Salt satyagraha. He went to villages to organize for the food and lodging of the marchers. In every village he went, he made stirring speeches, rousing the people to join the march to Dandi. The Government swooped down and arrested him. This was Sardar Patel's first prison sentence. He was released after the Gandhi-Irwin pact of March 1931. That year he presided over the Congress session in Karachi.
Gandhiji sailed for London to attend the Round Table Conference in 1931. Sardar Patel regularly updated him on the situation in India. Ironically, the British Government in India stepped up repression just when the Conference was going on in London. Gandhiji was arrested on his return from the Conference. Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru were also imprisoned. Sardar Patel was imprisoned with Gandhiji in Yervada Jail, Pune, where they spent 16 months together. While Sardar Patel was in jail, his mother and brother died. He refused to be released to attend to their last rites.
In 1937, elections for the provincial governments were held under the Government of India Act of 1935. Sardar Patel was elected Chairman to the Parliamentary Sub-Committee which was to select Congress candidates and organize the elections. Sardar Patel's hard work resulted in the Congress forming majority governments in most Provinces.
On August 8, 1942, the Congress and Gandhiji passed the 'Quit India' resolution, calling upon the British to withdraw from India. The Government responded with arrests of Sardar Patel,
JawaharIal Nehru, Gandhiji and other eminent Congress leaders. Sardar Patel was imprisoned in Ahmednagar Fort while Gandhiji was kept in Aga Khan Palace.
On March 23, 1946, the Labour Prime Minister of Britain arrived in India to assure independence for India. An Interim Government was proposed and Sardar Patel once again was asked to handle the campaign for the Congress. Again the Sardar delivered. The Congress won thumping majorities in almost all provinces. Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister in September 1946 and Sardar Patel held the portfolios of Home and Information and Broadcasting. On August 15, 1947, India became free, but only after Pakistan was created.
When Pakistani infiltrators attacked Kashmir, Sardar Patel proposed withholding Pakistan's share of cash balances left by the British. Gandhiji felt such an act would be morally wrong and went on a fast unto death. Sardar Patel tried to prevail over Gandhiji, but he finally relented in order to save the life of the 'Father of the Nation.'
Sardar Patel handled the portfolio of Home Minister, Minister of States and Minister of Information and Broadcasting. As Home Minister he had to deal with communal disturbances that continued to rock the nation after partition. He transferred army units from Pune and Madras to deal with the disturbances in Delhi.
Sardar Patel handled the integration of all the princely states into the Indian Union with great expertise. Under the Cabinet Mission, all the princely states had the right to join Pakistan, India or remain independent. The Sardar declared that "we are all knit together by bonds of blood and feelings ... Therefore, it is better for us to make laws sitting together as friends." Sardar Patel dealt with Hyderabad and Junagarh firmly when these states tried to join Pakistan or remain independent. Gandhiji was full of praise.
As time passed, differences in opinion formed between Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru. Gandhiji wanted both to work together for the betterment of India. On January 30, 1948, Sardar Patel met Gandhiji who expressed his wish that Sardar Patel work side by side with Nehru. The same day Gandhiji was assassinated. Sardar Patel was crushed. He was further hurt when he was criticized for not protecting Gandhiji. Sardar Patel wanted to post plain-cloth policemen at the Gandhiji's prayer meetings, but Gandhiji had forbidden it. After Gandhiji's death, Sardar Patel acted as Gandhiji had wished and worked closely with Nehru.
Sardar Patel formed the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and other Central Services to assist in the process of nation building. The 'Iron Man of India' died in Bombay in December 1950. He left behind a united India.