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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Some notes from Maniben Patel’s diary

Sardar Patel had a daughter and her name was Maniben, she kept a diary.

Interestingly, Maniben mentions in her diary that Sardar had one common goal with Savarkar. They differed on several issues but both of them wanted the ‘‘four crore Muslims in India to be loyal to the country; otherwise there was no place for them (August 16, 1949).’’

Few Congressmen says Patel wanted Pakistan to have Kashmir, but the truth “Maniben also refers to a discussion about the possibility of the partition of Kashmir, which involved Bharat retaining Jammu and handing over the rest of the state to Pakistan. Patel retorted: ‘We want the entire territory… and battle for the whole of Kashmir” (July 23, 1949)”.

Sardar Patel & Babri Masjid? Maniben’s diary on September 20, 1950 says that Sardar told Nehru that the Babri Masjid’s renovation was different from reconstruction of the Somnath Mandir for which a trust was set up that raised nearly 30 lakh for the purpose. Government money was not spent on reconstruction of the Somnath Temple, Sardar told Nehru following which the Nehru kept quiet, Maniben’s diary notes on September 20, 1950.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had a daughter and her name was Maniben. Nehru ensured his daughter became the PM, he also ensured that Sardar’s bloodline was forgotten in the pages of history. Among the women who effectively participated in Bharat’s freedom movement, Maniben Patel, Sardar Patel’s daughter, was one of the foremost. She devoted her entire life to the service of the country. She remained unmarried and took care of Gandhi’s health during the prime of her life. Later, for a number of years she took care of her own father. It is widely believed that but for her devoted care, Sardar Patel would not have continued to live as long as he did, nor achieve what he did in Bharat’s service.

As Sardar Patel’s wife, Zaverba, died very early, Maniben had taken up the multiple roles as daughter, secretary, washerwoman and nurse to the ‘Iron Man’ till his death on December 12, 1950.

Maniben kept a diary, she generally accompanied Patel everywhere and was present with the Sardar at most of his meetings. She was therefore privy to what transpired in these meetings and also to Sardar’s views and innermost thoughts on various historic and sensitive issues which he often could not otherwise express even to his closest friends and colleagues. The diary runs from 8 June 1936 till Sardar’s death on 15 December 1950, and is particularly detailed after Patel’s release from jail in 1945.

A few more entries of Maniben in her diary which leave you aghast..

Another entry, on Sept 13, 1950, quotes Ghanshyamdas Birla as saying “Nehru’s whole family would have embraced Islam if they had not come in contact with Gandhi.” Particulary significant are Sardar’s views on Communists Muslims, conversion of Hindus as chronicled by Maniben. It says, Nehru tried to go soft on the Hyderabad action, apparently to appease Muslims. But the Sardar told Rajgopalachari in no uncertain terms that nothing would stop him from pursuing strong action to remove ‘an ulcer’, and that Nehru should remain within his limits. The diary says: ‘‘Sardar Patel bluntly told Rajaji that he would not want the future generations to blame and curse him for allowing an ulcer in the heart of India. On one side is western Pakistan and on the other side eastern Pak (with their idea of (a) pan-Islamic block (they want to) come to Delhi & establish the Mughal empire again. Once we enter Hyderabad, it is no longer an international affair. It is the State Ministry’s function. How long are you & Panditji going to bypass the Ministry of the States and carry on?’’ (Sept 13, 1948).

Patel’s hold over the Congress party organization was certainly greater. Nehru considered Sardar a rival who could dethrone him. Maniben’s diary, however, reveals that Patel had no such ambition, particularly after he gave his word to Gandhi.

Upon the Patel-Nehru differences played many others, notably Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, the socialists, and even Maulana Azad. The diary reveals their maneuverings to oust Sardar from the Cabinet. Significantly, Nehru consistently ignored the many allegations of corruption against Kidwai, a fact that puzzled many Congress leaders.

Maniben records: ‘‘Sardar Patel was not happy with the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Pact as it did not stop the exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan which went on increasing & a large number of Hindus continued to migrate to India.

Sardar observed that he was not so much worried about the killings, after all 30 lakh people had died in the Bengal famine, but he could not stand assaults on women & their forcible conversion to Islam.

‘‘Hindus had been totally finished in Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan and Frontier Provinces. It was being repeated in East Pak & people like Hafizur Rehman, who had stayed on in India, would be clamouring for (a) homeland in India. What would be our position then? Our posterity would call us traitors.’’ (April 24, 1950)

Sardar Patel did not trust Communists either. He told M O Mathai, Nehru’s Special Assistant, ‘‘if we have to build up the nation, Communists would have no place there.’’ (Sept 13, 1948).’’

‘‘Sardar was very unhappy that Nehru had taken the Kashmir issue to the UN which tied India’s hands. His idea was that India should extricate itself from the UN patiently and then solve the Kashmir problem forever. He was also unhappy when reports came that the fertile land left behind in Jammu by Muslim zamindars who had migrated to Pakistan was not being given to Hindu refugees. Instead, the Sheikh was insisting on settling only Muslim refugees on such land (May 1, 1949)… Under the influence of MKG, Sardar donated his everything to Congress leaving Maniben in poverty. Maniben upheld her father’s legacy, the pride and dignity inherited from him, to her last breath.

Neither she sought any favours from Congress leaders, nor did they help her, at the critical junctures of her life even when she was struggling to make ends meet after the passing away of her father. Having served the people of Gujarat, especially Anand-based milk revolution.

Maniben in old age was not able to see properly and would go around the streets of Ahmedabad, often stumbling and falling on the road, till some passerby helped her get up on her feet. #ManibenPatel #SmaranDivas #CongressMukthBharath #VANDEMATARAM

(This article has been compiled from the tweet thread posted by @sheshapatangi1 on March 27, 2023, with minor edits to improve readability and conform to HinduPost style guide)

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