The makers of India.
Sardar Vallabhai Patel -The ‘Iron Man’ of India
India’s first home minister and also the first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is known as the “Iron Man” of India. Patel was instrumental in uniting the country through the merger of small princely states.
There is no record of his date of birth. Vallabhbhai himself put in a date, while filling in a form for his Matriculation . He wrote October 31, 1875, and this has been the date for all records. He travelled to attend schools in Nadiad, Petlad and Borsad.
He passed Class 10 at the age of 22. At the age of 36 he journeyed to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn in London. Completing a 36-month course in 30 months he came out in flying colors
He was a man of great courage and restraint. His wife, Zaverbai, died early in 1909 after an operation for some abdominal malady. When the news of the bereavement reached Vallabhbhai, he was cross-examining a witness in a murder case at Anand. With an impregnable composure for which he became known later, he did not show grief but went on with the cross-examination in hand.
Later he was elected to the Municipalitty of Ahmedabad. He worked hard and set up Health Labs. When corruption charges were pressed against Sardar Patel and 18 other councillors in Ahmedabad municipality, he sought Jinnah’s help and came out unscathed.
He accepted Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership and took active part in many struggles in the freedom movement.
As Deputy Prime Minister he was responsible for the Home, States and the Information and Broadcasting portfolios. He used his powers of persuasion and his statesmanship in the’ integration of states into the Union of India.
Patel was a great worker. He did not believe in statues and memorials.
He was a born leader. Once as a sixth-form boy he organized a successful strike of his classmates that lasted for three days to teach a lesson to one of the teachers who was unduly fond of the rod.
Both Nehru and Patel played a vital role in the decision-making process They enjoyed a unique relationship. The two leaders frequently disagreed on many issues, publicly and privately but they had immense respect for each other .Differences were always resolved through discussions.
He once asked, “Has India organised a new state and society to replace the old order which she wants to discard?”B.K. Ahliwalia and Shashi Ahluwalia has rightly commented that “Nehru had faith in the goodness of human nature, Patel was not blind to the Satan in man. Nehru took things for granted, Patel valued them at the market price. Nehru was satisfied with assurances, Patel needed proof . Both worked together to lay a strong foundation for India.