Sardar’s secularism : Fact vs Fiction
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.
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.