Role of Sardar Patel in Freedom Movement and Post independence consolidation

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel handled effectively the integration of the princely states with his diplomatic skills and foresightedness. The problem of amalgamating 562 independent states with a democratic self-governing India was difficult and delicate. But it was essential to save India from balkanization, once the Paramountcy of British crown would lapse. Sardar Patel took charge of the states department in July 1947. He sensed the urgent and imperative need of the integration of princely states. He followed an iron handed policy. He made it clear that he did not recognize the right of any state to remain independent and in isolation, within India.

Sardar vallabhbhai Patel always raised his voice on several issues against exploitation and criticized the high-handedness of authority, the exploitative revenue policy of the Government and maladministration in the Princely states. He not only criticized the arbitrary policies of confiscation of movable and immovable properties, but also insisted on guarded regulations on land reforms and nationalization of key industries. His efforts to reform the Hindu religion and protect the people of other faiths reflected his longing for the right to religion. He encouraged the duly elected authority to bring restrictions through various legislative measures to freedom for all. Thus, his political value system was a fine synthesis of liberalism, conservatism and welfarism.

His vision of State was in tune with the pattern of his political values. In his concept, the State was founded and held together by a high sense of nationalism and patriotism. Individual liberty was to be in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, to create a Nation-State, he pressed for the emancipation of backward communities and women and bring about Hindu- Muslim unity through the Gandhian constructive programme and skillfully utilised the higher castes for social integration and political mobilisation. Thus, he strengthened the plural basis of the nation-state by bringing electoral participation as effective political mobilisation. He saw a nation as ‘democratic in structure, nationalistic in foundation and welfarist in spirit and function’.

The process of the integration of the various states and the part played by Sardar in it, we realize the important role that Sardar had in the integration of the country. The states included Saurastra (including Junagadh) Hyderabad, Travancore, Cochin, Kashmir and other small states. Sardar’s role in each of these states was vital. The continuation of a divided and weak central government would in Patel’s mind, result in the wider fragmentation of India by encouraging more than 600 princely states towards independence. Between the months of December 1946 and January 1947, Patel worked with civil servant V.P. Menon on the latter’s suggestion for a separate dominion of Pakistan created out of Muslim-majority provinces. Communal violence in Bengal and Punjab in January and March 1947 further convinced Patel of the soundness of partition. Patel, a fierce critic of Jinnah’s demand that the Hindu-majority areas of Punjab and Bengal be included in a Muslim state, obtained the partition of those provinces, thus blocking any possibility of their inclusion in Pakistan. By August 15, 1947 all except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir acceded to India. He thereafter carried three fold processes of assimilation, centralization and unification of states. The states were amalgamated to form a union and that union was merged with the Union of India. He handled the Junagarh and Hyderabad crisis as a seasoned statesman. Nawab of Junagarh wanted to accede to Pakistan.The integration of the princely states thus acted as a synchronizing phenomenon and established a State of balance between chaos and segmentation and solidarity of the newly born Indian Union.

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