Indians have shrunk Sardar Patel to just 1947 integration. There was so much more to him: Urvish Kothari

(Urvish Kothari is a senior columnist and writer. The column was first published in The Print on October 31, 2021)

 

  • It is difficult for most people to think of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel beyond his greatest achievement — the integration of 562 princely states into the Indian Union. Without undermining the Herculean task Patel achieved, it must also be remembered that the integration work occupied only the last couple of years of his 75-year-long life. What he did in seven decades before that mostly remains out of collective public memory. A barrister from London and a fierce criminal lawyer with a booming practice in Ahmedabad, Vallabhbhai Patel was drawn to politics by the simple, direct yet novel approach of Gandhi. He became Gandhi’s close associate from Kheda Satyagraha in 1918, a campaign against unjust land taxation. Patel was a widower of 43 years then. After the Kheda campaign, Gandhi remarked, “I must admit that when I met Vallabhbhai first, I could not help wondering who this stiff-looking person was and whether he would be able to do what I wanted. But the more I came to know him, the more I realized that I must secure his help…If it were not for his assistance, I must admit that this campaign would not have been carried through so successfully.”…

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