Sardar’s secularism : Fact vs Fiction

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I am pained that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who was avowedly secular, a fierce nationalist and a true Congressman is being labeled by ideologically fascist politicians as anti Muslim and pro RSS.

On his 65th death anniversary (December 15) I want to clear misconceptions about Sardar and Muslims.

Sardar clearly believed that religion or caste cannot be used as a political tool. When BJP claims that Patel was anti Muslim, it must be remembered that this is Patel of their imagination and fantasy, not the real Patel of Indian history.

Sardar patel was an enemy of every fundamentalist, whether Hindu or Muslim. In fact, after Gandhiji was shot dead, Sardar openly said (October 7, 1950, Fateh maidan, Hyderabad). ” you cannot blame all Muslims for everything,. When Gandhiji was shot dead, let us not forget that there were Hindus who had danced with joy”. “if you think you can go on constantly troubling loyal Muslims just because they happen to be Muslims, remember our freedom is not worthwhile.

In January 1948(this was before Gandhi was shot dead), Sardar addressing the Mumbai Municipal corporation said, “I feel sad when I hear people saying that Muslims should be removed from India. Those who say so have gone mad. Even a lunatic is better than a person made with rage. If we do this, are we ready to admit to the world that we are not fit to rule?”

In a letter to B M Birla in 1947, Sardar wrote, ” We must not forget that there other minorities whose protection also is our primary responsibility. In fact, there were two Muslims: Imam Saheb Bawazir and Abbas Ryabji whom Sardar was so close that he regarded both of them as “Just like my blood brothers”.


It was Sardar Patel who appointed Khurshid Ahmed Ahan a muslim as the first Indian Chief Commissioner of the most important city in the country, Delhi. Not only that, it was Sardar who insisted that Urdu given an important place in All India Radio

Sardar on November 13, 1947 in Rajkot clearly said, I have nothing againt Muslims and even those Muslims who in the past have supported the League or two nation theory but have now decided to live in India. Past is past. Hindus and Muslims should live like brothers in India.

On December 17, 1947, in Delhi he said, “India is one. One cannot divide a sea or split running waters of the sea. The Muslims have their roots in India. All their sacred and cultural places are in India. I am sure all those who have gone also would want to come back to India. India is as much of Muslims as it is of Hindus”.

Though BJP wants us to believe that he banned the RSS under Nehru’s pressure, it must be remembered that Sardar was an iron man and an iron man does not cower down .

In fact,before he banned the RSS, Sardar was already on the hit list of Hindu Mahasabha extremists. In February 1949, this Patel of Gujarat  declared that “Hindu Raj is a mad idea”, .

So Sardar was a true secular. He did not want to appease Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus anyone. But to say Sardar was anti Muslim would be injustice to the iron man of india

Because the BJP kept on claiming how Nehru and Sardar hated each other, Mrs Sonia Gandhi rightly intervened and said Nehru and Sardar did have differences but that did not decrease their respect or bond for each other and the difference were not intense as some (BJP) are wanting us to believe.

Because BJP which played no role in the independence movement had no heroes or historical figures, they unsuccessfully tried to hijack Sardar Patel from our congress party.

Sardar was a true secular, a real Congressman. It is an insult to the iron man of India that short sighted politicians with divisive agenda label themselves as Chhote Sardar. Sardar joined the country and could never be the icon of those whose agenda is to divide the country.

I end here anticipating your comments on my thoughts.


    • pritesh kukadia
      pritesh kukadia on 15 December, 2009

      sarada Patel is credited for being almost single-handedly responsible for unifying India on the eve of independence. He won the admiration of many Indians for speaking frankly on the issues of Hindu-Muslim relations and not shying from using military force to integrate India. His skills of leadership and practical judgement were hailed by British statesmen — salute to the IRON man

    • pritesh kukadia
      pritesh kukadia on 15 December, 2009

      saradar Patel is credited for being almost single-handedly responsible for unifying India on the eve of independence. He won the admiration of many Indians for speaking frankly on the issues of Hindu-Muslim relations and not shying from using military force to integrate India. His skills of leadership and practical judgement were hailed by British statesmen — salute to The IRON man

    • jaywant nanavati
      jaywant nanavati on 16 December, 2009

      I am very impressed. What I am reading here, no where getting information.

      KEEP UP SIR.

      Jayant Nanavati

    • Jaydeepsinh
      Jaydeepsinh on 21 June, 2010

      Sanatan dharma or eternal religion has since time immemorial looked upon rituals, rites, gods, religions as an aid or tools to realize God or truth or absolute reality. Religion is only a channel for self realization. God can only be experienced, he can not be known. As a Hindu seer has said: ” there may be different oil in different lamps, the wicks may also be different, but when they burn they all have flame and illumination”

      The BJP, who they say is interested in propagating the Hindu thought is guilty of hypocrisy and self denial when it discriminates between country-men on the basis of religion.

      Icons and ideology drives organization. But BJP projecting Sardar Patel as its non-secular icon is ridiculous. Sardar Patel was a congress icon even before the BJP came into being. Can two contesting parties have the same icon? Perhaps they can, but one party cannot change the personality of an icon so as to make him fit into its own present ideology. Both Sardar Patel and Nehru were firm believers in democracy and secularism.They differed only on the economic front: Patel believed in free markets, whereas Nehru believed in economic policies where more weight age was given to state control of economy.

      If BJP believes in earnestly serving the nation by using the age old wisdom and knowledge of the Hindus, they can do so only by upholding secularism. Without secularism, I cannot think of any Hindu personality who can be made an icon of BJP. In that case BJP will have to look towards India’s western neighbors. As taught by Gandhiji and other seers of India, we are believers and secularism for us is not equal contempt for all religions, but equal respect and reverence for all religions.


    • Rohit
      Rohit on 18 January, 2011

      The probably with BJP-RSS and similar pseudo-nationlist and pseudo-Hindu organisations is that they think that they speak for all Hindus, BUT THEY DONT’

      It is time for the rest of the Hindus to stand up and claim their rightful place in the philosophy of Gandhiji and other and NOT under Sarvarkar or RSS types.

      SHAILESH SURTI on 16 September, 2011


    • Jayanta Roy Chowdhury
      Jayanta Roy Chowdhury on 27 February, 2014

      I discovered this blog of yours recently … and put it on my facebook … drawing tremendous response … thanks for reminding us about the secular character of one of India’s tallest leaders …

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