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How Did Sardar Patel Make Way For Nehru To Become The First Prime Minister Of India?

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Source- Jagran Josh

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was an Indian lawyer, influential political leader, barrister and statesman who served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India and first Home Minister of India from 1947 to 1950.

The official history has always downplayed the grave injustice that was done to the ‘Iron Man of India’ – Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. It’s not that  the official history does not mention the emergence of Sardar Patel  and not Jawahar Lal Nehru as the overwhelming choice of the Congress party to lead India after independence but it has been reduced to mere footnotes and nothing more.


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Source- Indian Express


Due to the consistent revolts against British rule, the Britishers began contemplating ways to reconcile with the Indian leaders. Hence, an interim government was to be formed which was to be headed by the Congress president as Congress had won the maximum number of seats in the 1946 elections. All of a sudden, the post of Congress president became very crucial as it was this very person  who was going to become the first Prime Minister of Independent India.

The INC working committee and the various state committees had to send in nominations for their preferred candidates. From the very beginning, Gandhi openly favored Nehru. Gandhi had explained his rationale behind backing Nehru ‘Jawaharlal cannot be replaced today whilst the charge is being taken from the British. He, a Harrow boy, a Cambridge graduate, and a barrister, is wanted to carry on the negotiations with the Englishmen.‘

And the nominations were to be made by 15 state/regional Congress committees. Despite Gandhi’s well-known preference for Nehru as Congress president, not a single Congress committee nominated Nehru’s name.

On the contrary, 12 out of 15 Congress committees nominated Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. The remaining three Congress committees did not nominate anybody’s name. Obviously, the overwhelming majority was in favor of Sardar Patel.


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Source- Scroll


It was a challenge to Mahatma Gandhi as well. He instructed Acharya J B Kripalani to get some proposals for Nehru from the Congress Working Committee (CWC) members despite knowing fully well that only Pradesh Congress Committees were authorized to nominate the president. In deference to Gandhi’s wish, Kripalani convinced a few CWC members to propose Nehru’s name for party president.

When Gandhi conveyed the results to Nehru, instead of humbly accepting the popular mandate, Nehru’s reaction was that of total silence. Gandhi realized that while Patel would agree to work as Nehru’s deputy, the reverse would most certainly not happen. Thus Gandhi intervened and asked Patel to withdraw his nomination.

A disappointed Gandhi gave into Nehru’s obduracy  and asked Sardar Patel to withdraw his name. Sardar Patel had immense respect for Gandhi and he withdrew his candidature without wasting any time. And it paved the way for the  coronation of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru as India’s first Prime Minister.

Gandhi unwittingly introduced the anti-democratic culture of the ‘party high commands’ overruling state units for inter-party matters. In deference to Gandhi, Kripalani nominated Nehru and withdrew from the contest. Patel who regarded Gandhi as his mentor then willingly stepped aside in favor of Nehru. Such a supreme sacrifice is unthinkable in contemporary times.

There were two major reasons why Patel accepted Gandhi’s request. Firstly, unlike Nehru, he never had coveted positions or posts, for him satisfaction was solely derived in his service to the nation. Secondly, Patel also knew that Nehru was not one to take rejection well. He had an inkling that Nehru would probably reject playing deputy to Patel and in fact become a fierce opponent of Patel and an impediment as he governed the nation.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel passed away in 1950 and in 1952, INC secured a massive majority in free India’s very first election.

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