Modi's Colonisation of Sardar Patel

By Prabhakar Timble
05 November 2013 06:59 IST

 “Live politics Patel- size” could be the jingle as the Narendra Modi led statue of the great icon of India’s freedom struggle and later the formation of the unified country as a quasi-federation takes shape facing the Narmada Dam. If this giant statue microbe sinks the teeth into more politicians, the competition could become cut-throat causing injury to the stature of our national leaders by reducing them and their relevance to regions, religious communities and political parties. As Modi and BJP colonize Patel, the Sardarji as he was popularly known may be lost to the nation and the future generation. 

The 182 meters ornament is being marketed as twice the size of statue of liberty. Against this claim, a few words on the statue of liberty would not be out of context. The statue of liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States which welcomes immigrants arriving from all parts of the world.  It reflects a history of comradeship, fraternity and the fire for liberty. Though the Sardar Vallabhai Patel is sought to be projected as a statue of Unity, the utterances indicate that the monument would be used to constantly remind of supremacy of Patel over Nehru. At least, this is the message given by the producers of this work. The greatness of the leader could not be a function of the size of the sculpture. This is an exhibition of extravagance, parochial intentions and poor causes of those living rather than of those who lived for noble causes and passed away.

Arrogance divides

The motivation and purpose will determine whether it is a statue of unity or NaMo-likes show of arrogant pride.  Take the way in which Swami Vivekananda is packaged by the brother and sister organizations of the BJP and RSS. In the 150th year of his birth, Swami Vivekananda is reduced to the level of a Hindu religious leader though the world recognizes and accepts him as the world guru of spiritual thought. The fact that the date of birth of Lal Bahadur Shastri coincides with Mahatma Gandhi was enough for these forces to hold the bat for Shastriji as it can be used to eclipse Gandhiji in the long-run. The birth anniversary of Sardar coincides with the date of assassination of Indira Gandhi providing an additional dividend to these elements.

Building a bypass through super jumbo monuments is an artistic way to kill the leaders. Tying a national leader and icon for future generations to the apron of any political party is reducing the stature of the leader and closing the doors for national recognition and emulation. The political party imprisons the national human asset and makes use and misuse of such leaders for narrow political gains. Dalits and similar political outfits have done the same through the annexation of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. It appears that Sardar Vallabhai Patel is sought to be   made a political pawn on the chess-board of NaMo’s ascendency as the future PM of India. Unity comes through humility and not arrogance. Whether it is Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya or the Statue of Unity near the river island called Sadhu Bet of Narmada River, the script is written by the same think-tank.

Team projects unity

If the attempt is to make Nehru and Gandhi look like pygmies, it will never succeed because these leaders are adored and admired worldwide. Gandhi’s life is an exclusive discipline of study and researchers worldwide do extension work on his methods of peace, truth and nonviolence. Nehru is remembered for statesmanship and foreign policy. Sardar Patel has been a keen follower and strong loyalist of Mahatma Gandhi. It was the Champaran victory which electrified Patel to the style, approach and commitment of Gandhi. It is after this that Patel placed his life at the disposal of Gandhi. The struggle of the Mahatma bore fruits due to the ruthless execution by Sardar Patel. It was said that Gandhi always pined for the “maternal affection” from Patel.

Patel had differences of opinion with Nehru on issues but the dissent never came in the way of team work.  He was firm that Nehru enjoyed the love of the people and the confidence of the minorities and never looked at Nehru with a question-mark. At the same time, Patel did not allow Nehru’s views to be the undisputed voice of the Indian National Congress. To quote Patel’  “If anybody has done a true banditry against the British Government he is Gandhiji. I am only one of the members of his tribe………Our leader in uprooting this rule was Gandhiji. In administration our leader is Jawaharlal Nehru. I have gone there to serve Jawaharlalji as loyally as I have served Gandhiji.” In the letter of acceptance to Nehru’s offer to join the Cabinet, Sardar Patel writes, “I hope, for the rest of my life you will have unquestioned loyalty and devotion from me in the cause for which no man in India has sacrificed as much as you have done. Our combination is unbreakable and therein lies our strength”.

Under such a background, floating a new hypothesis of who would have been better for India as the first Prime Minister speaks of the beginning and end of the purpose of the proposed Statue of Unity. It is for all other purposes except for fostering and celebrating unity. Using the platform to draw comparisons on the competency and skills of the two tall leaders and converting it into a Nehru versus Patel race shows the hidden intentions of Narendra Modi.

Indian masses just loved their Panditji.  The affection of all classes of Indian people has been abundant and overwhelming for Nehru irrespective of the propaganda machine of the RSS, BJP and the Hindu nationalists as they prefer to be known dish out. Sardar Vallabhai Patel referred to them as “those” subversive forces. Probably, he did not feel the need to name them as the forces were abundantly naked. Unity if it has to be fostered and hoisted through a monument should be through a composite mix of Gandhi- Azad-Nehru-Patel-Ambedkar. This diversity can take us to unity, not the game of projecting any one as the one and only liberator or builder of unified India. 

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Gandhi, Azad, Nehru, Patel and Ambedkar may be originating from erstwhile congress but their philosophies and thinking logics are diametrically opposed to each other! This is the fact and reality! Therefore no right thinking Indian should ever think of making a monument with mix of these personalities! And if at such irrational monument is done/initiated by left thinking persons it will definitely dismantle whatever unity is left in society today and bring in or rather foster disunity in our posterity!

- Uday, Margao | 09 th November 2013 07:01


shivaji who was and is a national hero had been used to bolster maharashtrian pride;now patel is being used to bolster gujarati pride; patel's contribution is great in the formation of indian union;another great leader who has not been fully recognised is rajaji;he anticipated trouble from jinnah much before other national leaders did; he opposed quit india movement of gandhiji which threw jinnah and the british together leading to the violent partition of the country;

- krishnamurthy, vasco | 07 th November 2013 12:57


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