New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) Despite his unique relationship with Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel “never accepted his leadership blindly”, according to Tushar Arun Gandhi, the great-grandson of the Father of the Nation.
Mahatma Gandhi, at every step, had to make an effort to convince Patel and then only would he do what was expected of him, Tushar Gandhi told IANS while discussing the relationship between the two stalwarts of the freedom struggle.
Tushar Gandhi, the son of journalist Arun Manilal Gandhi and grandson of Manilal Gandhi, pointed out that his great-grand father and Patel were contemporaries, almost the same age.
He spoke about the time when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned from London after becoming a Barrister and began practice in Bombay.
His first case was a property dispute in which he was representing a widow, Tushar Gandhi said. “The day ‘Bapu’ was to appear in the court, everyone was eager to see the Barrister from London make his debut. Sardar Patel was in the court and decided to go and see the ‘Vilayati’ (foreign) Barrister make his debut.”
Gandhi appeared in the court, carrying his brief and several books he was going to quote from.
“When his case was called. Gandhi suffered from acute nervousness and could not utter a word after several attempts. He became terrified and fled from the court in panic. This was the first impression Sardar had of Gandhi,” Tushar Gandhi said.
Many years later, he said, the “Hero of South Africa” was to be felicitated in Ahmedabad Club, where Sardar used to play Bridge.
“When he heard that Gandhi would be felicitated and would deliver a speech, Sardar went to see if Gandhi would be able to speak or once again he would make a fool of himself,” Tushar Gandhi said.
He said it was later that Sardar accepted Gandhi’s leadership and “formed a very loyal and long lasting relationship with him.”
“But Sardar never accepted Gandhi’s leadership ‘blindly’. At every instance, Gandhi had to make an effort to convince Sardar. Only then, he would do what Gandhi expected from him. Theirs was a relationship of long-standing, loyalty, mutual trust and respect,” Tushar Gandhi said.
On Nehru’s relationship with Gandhi, he said it was “one of tutor and pupil and mentor and follower, Idol and worshiper”.
The young Nehru was devoted to Gandhi and looked up to him as a father figure, Tushar Gandhi said.
“(Mahatma) Gandhi also loved him as a son and chaperoned him in public life. Nehru was very close to Gandhi and yet he had his own ideology and the philosophy he subscribed to.
“Sardar and Gandhi were the senior stalwarts who were practitioners of the more oriental domestic culture whereas Nehru was more modern and westernised person. But all three of them adhered to the India and freedom first ideology.”
Tushar Gandhi said there was a big age difference between Patel and Nehru but “they worked unitedly under, or more appropriately shoulder-to-shoulder with Gandhi.”
“Both of Nehru and Patel were extremely loyal to Gandhi and to the cause of freedom. Their differences only surfaced once Independence was certain and they were no longer dependent on Gandhi,” he added.
Asked how Patel and Nehru were dependent on Gandhi, Tushar Gandhi said: “All three were liberal to varying degrees. Pundit Nehru was the most liberal of the three and Sardar was less liberal than the other two. But there was no radicalism in any of them.”
Putting light on Gandhi’s philosophy on economy, he said that Bapu firmly believed that reform and development would be sustainable if policies were addressed to fulfill the needs of the poorest of poor and weakest of weak.
On “The Story of My Experiments With Truth”, he said it is Bapu’s fearless and honest autobiography.
“Bapu writes more about his faults and weaknesses in the story of his life from birth till he turns 60. Later, when a request was made to him to write about the rest of his life, post the ‘Dandi Kooch’, he refused, saying there was no need since post his 60th birthday, his life had been completely transparent and so nothing was unknown to people and hence no need for a written autobiography.”
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)