The Fact File 15 March2014
Pretender To Patel’s Legacy
Modi wants a statue for him but buries his idea of India
The Idea of India is thrilling because it captures the country’s heterogeneity, encapsulates every period of its history and focuses on fulfilling the aspirations of more than a billion people. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was among those who laid the foundation of this very idea of India. Essential to Patel’s idea of India was democratic polity and pluralistic society.
The RSS’s idea of India on the other hand is the complete antithesis of Patel’s.This can best be understood by reading some of the statements of MS Golwalkar (RSS’s second sarsanghchalak), during whose reign Narendra Modi was a pracharak. Golwalkar believed, as stated in ‘We, or Our nation Defined’, that non-Hindus of Hindustan must be “wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment-not even citizens’ rights.”
The government, with Patel as home minister, promptly banned RSS on February 4, 1948. Some argue that it was Patel who lifted the ban on RSS, but conveniently forget that this was done on certain strict conditions in July, 1949. Central to this agreement was that “RSS should adopt a written and published constitution, restrict itself to culture, forswear violence and secrecy, profess loyalty to India’s flag and Constitution and provide for a democratic organization.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated a museum honouring Patel. The construction of the museum, conceptualized by the Sardar Patel Memorial Society and supported by the government, was made possible by generous donations from the people of Gujarat. The Modi-let Gujarat government did not contribute a single rupee to the cause.
One of the most important police institutes-National Police Academy-was established under Congress rule and is names ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy.
Congress associated Patel’s name with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation building in 1956. It was the same Congress which associated Sardar’s name with the Narmada dam project that is Gujarat’s lifeline. Congress also named Ahmedabad airport after Sardar Saheb.
Apart from the fundamentally different ideology. Patel’s style of administration is also intrinsically dissimilar to Modi’s. It is known to one and all that Gujarat’s CM believes in one-man rule and an autocratic style of functioning. Patel was believer in collective leadership.
Pretenders to Patel’s legacy should introspect. They should avoid being ignorant of history and economical in telling the truth. If they do desire to emulate Patel, they should do so in a holistic manner and look at what the Sardar dedicated his life to- a united India, which has space for everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, language, ethnicity and, most importantly, religion.
Extract of an article general secretary of Congress party): Digvijay Singh TOI 13 March 2014