Present-day politicians must learn from him, says Patel scholar

In present times Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is more relevant because the country needs a leader like him, a man of few words but a doer, not at all vindictive, putting national interest ahead and burying personal differences, says Urvish Kothari, an author who has read about Sardar Patel exhaustively.

He has authored a few books on Sardar Patel in Gujarati, of which two are ‘Sardar: Sacho Manas, Sachi Vaat,’ ‘Sardar Ek Dantkatha Nahi, Jivant Katha’. Presently he is penning a book in English on Sardar Patel.

Talking to IANS, Urvish Kothari said, “When I hear present day politicians making tall claims of following Sardar Patel, I wonder whether they have really read and understood Patel at all, because he was man of action. The unification of the country is a classic example, about which the Sardar himself never claimed any credit.”

Nor was Patel vindictive. Citing an example of it, Kothari said, “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Jamnagar’s ruler Jamsaheb’s wavelength never met, when he was convincing rulers to merge their states in Union of India, Jamsaheb was heading demand of United States of Saurashtra. Seeing it as a hurdle, Sardar Vallabhbhai reached out to him through Jamsaheb’s brother Himmatsinhji, invited him to dinner at his Delhi residence and convinced him to merge his state with the Union of India.”

Even at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation level, if Patel had differences with any officer, but felt that the officer’s strengths can be used for nation building, he would reach out to him without hesitation or reservation, said Kothari.

Even in his personal or social life Vallabhbhai and his brother Vitthalbhai were real reformists and broad minded. Giving an example of Vitthalbhai Patel Kothari remembers, “Vitthalbhai was on tour to England, where Patel youths had organized a felicitation function for him. When he learned that all the youths were Patels, he questioned the youths that even after reaching England have you not risen above your Patel identity?”

Patel had never identified himself as a Patel or Patidar leader. He was above casteism. Kothari strongly believes that calling Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel a Patel leader is not respect to him and but an insult, because he was the leader of all castes and creeds. Today’s leaders should follow this philosophy.

He feels that using Sardar Patel’s name for political gains by any leader or party is also an insult to him.

All those who are talking about the pride of Sardar Patel, either have heard, read a little and never tried to understand him.

It hurts when Sardar Patel is used to diminish other freedom fighters or leaders. He may have differences with other leaders, but when it came to national interest, on various occasions he either put differences behind or buried them and never made ego issues.

There is also an attempt to create a narrative that without Sardar Patel, Mahatma Gandhi would have never become such a tall leader.

Kothari’s understanding of relations between two leader is: “There is no doubt that Sardar Patel’s legal practise was doing very good, even had made place for himself in freedom movement before Gandhi entered the movement. But Patel was so heavily influenced by Gandhi’s thoughts, philosophy and work, that it carved a completely ew Sardar, who started working on prohibition, to unite the society, and for social reforms. The fact remains that without Gandhiji, we would have not got the Sardar Patel that we all know and read about.”

The scholar strongly suggests that present day leaders should learn administration from the life of Sardar Patel, as “he was a great administrator, unfortunately these issues are never discussed or learned from such stalwarts and icons”.




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