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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sardar Patel stands tall ~ how did Indian National Congress treat him ?

The world’s tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel is now open to the public. Fondly called - the Statue of Unity, India has added another destination to visit among the thousands already present in the country.  The 600-foot-tall statue is located in the Narmada district of Gujarat and is three-and-a half kilometres away from Kevadia town and about 200 km from Ahmedabad. The statue now adds to the growing list of tourism spots in Gujarat, which already consists of the Great Rann of Kutch and the Gandhi circuit which are big attractions. Despite located in a remote corner of the state, the Gujarat government has already started promotion of the Statue of Unity as a major tourism destination. On an average, they are expecting around 15,000 visitors daily at the site. The statue is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York and, hence, is expected to attract many foreign visitors apart from domestic ones. Visitors can reach up to the observational deck, located at 400 feet high, which is more than half of the statue.

The idea was not born in a day ~ back in 2013, when Modiji was the CM of Gujarat, he is known to have kept   a small-scale prototype of the proposed statue on the desk in his office. When hosting foreign dignitaries in the office, he would spend considerable time explaining the significance of the grand project. He even gifted small replicas to some of them.  The dream is a reality.   Iconography is not only an art but also intrinsic to politics.  He made sure that people of India were with him in this ambitious initiative. He persuaded the people across the country to emotionally invest in the building of the statue. In the first leg of the building the structure, he demanded that agriculture implements and other tools be donated from every village of the country to make provision for the iron in the making of the statue.

There has been some politics and useless memes too on the social media.  First statues are nothing new to the World, to India, to Tamilnadu, to Chennai, to Marina. Some fringe groups would raise to say that poor could have been fed with that money – if that is the yardstick, there is no need for preserving Taj, having a vast place for Gandhi as Rajghat, various sthals of past leaders and present leaders having to visit them on special days – if something is stated as ‘wasteful expenditure’ – crores and crores are spent on special protection to political leaders and even statues of some leaders .. ..  we have heard the term  “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” – elsewhere  Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 1999 defines fruitless and wasteful expenditure as “expenditure which was made in vain and would have been avoided had reasonable care been exercised”. The words in vain as contained in the definition of fruitless and wasteful refers to a transaction, event or condition which was undertaken without value or substance and which did not yield any desired results or outcome.

Sardar Patel is a hero and he now stands tall ~ despite efforts those days to promote others over him .. ..  .. History has it that Congress run by Gandhi and Nehru, sidelined him .. yet, as  the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organised relief efforts for refugees fleeing from Punjab and Delhi and worked to restore peace. He led the task of forging a united India, successfully integrating into the newly independent nation those British colonial provinces that had been "allocated" to India. Besides those provinces that had been under direct British rule, approximately 565 self-governing princely states had been released from British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act of 1947. Threatening military force, Patel persuaded almost every princely state to accede to India. His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet "Iron Man of India". He is also remembered as the "patron saint of India's civil servants" for having established the modern all-India services system. He is also called the "Unifier of India".

More than the statues, dynasty is killing Indian democracy and politics.  Every political observer knows that most parties distribute tickets in elections to the clan of erstwhile leaders – that way the sons and daughters walk over the party cadre.  An example is Nehru family – Motilal Nehru served as Congress President and his son Jawaharlal Nehru was chosen by Gandhi to becoming the   first Prime Minister of India.  Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, eldest daughter of Motilal Nehru, represented India in UN General assembly.  Brijlal Nehru,  son of Nandlal Nehru and a nephew of Motilal Nehru,  was the Finance Minister of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir during the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh.  Indira Gandhi became the  the first woman Prime Minister of India.  Her husband was earlier MP. Brajkumar Nehru, son of Brijlal, served as Governor.  Arun Nehru, great grand son of Nandlal Nehru was a union minister during the 1980s.  Rajiv Gandhi became the 7th PM of India.  Sanjay Gandhi dazzled in politics before untimely death.  Sonia Gandhi, is President of Indian National Congress and MP;  Maneka Gandhi  serves as the Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development;  Rahul Gandhi is being projected to be the leader; Priyanka, Robert Vadra – all are in politics. 

Now consider this ~ in 1967 Kappal Ottiya thamizhan VO Chidambaram’s Pillai contested  from Ottapidaram but was defeated – the political parties did not support him !  .. .. Patel’s family too tried to dangle with politics.  Sardar Patel’s four family members fought elections: son Dahyabhai, daughter Maniben, daughter-in-law Bhanumati and her businessman-brother Pashabhai Patel. Dahyabhai Patel was a Congressman and an elected member of the Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1939, when Sardar Patel was still around. He spent 18 years at the corporation, out of which he was a leader of the Congress party for six years.  By his own account, when he was all set to   fight the 1957 Lok Sabha election as a Congress candidate, Nehru was not willing to acknowledge Sardar Patel’s contribution and it became all too apparent at the annual session of Congress in January 1957. A member wanted to propose that Sardar Patel’s contribution be mentioned in the document at the Indore annual session of the Congress party. But the idea was dropped. And, this prompted Dahyabhai to leave the Congress the same year.  Later he was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1958 as nominee of Maha Gujarat Janta Parishad.  Interestingly Dahyabhai was an insurance man, employed by  the Oriental Insurance Company.

Maniben, daughter of Sardar Patel, plunged into national electoral politics, fought the first Lok Sabha election (1952) from Kheda (South) constituency as a Congress candidate and won with a margin of 59,298 votes. Many Sardar Patel loyalists who felt his memory was being wronged in the Congress party threw their weight behind the new Swatantra Party in 1959. Dahyabhai also joined Swantatra Party, and in 1962  Maniben lost the Anand seat with a margin of 22,729 votes to Swatantra party candidate.  During the 1962 Lok Sabha elections, Dahyabhai was already a Rajya Sabha MP and  his wife Bhanumati Patel and brother-in-law Pashabhai Patel were fielded by Swatantra Party for the seats of Bhavnagar and Sabarkantha respectively. Both lost. 

History reveals that Sardar Vallabhai Patel stood tall as a leader of the Congress, but perhaps to the party he was not as tall !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th Nov 2018

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