Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel belongs to the category of heroes that would do honour to any country. While his achievements will be a source of inspiration, his services to the nation will be remembered in the times to come with gratitude.
Sardar Patel was born on 21st October 1875, in Karamsad village in Gujrat district. His father Jhver Bhai Patel was a poor peasant, but was bold and patriotic at the core of his heart. His father fought in the army of Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi against the British Government in the First War of Independence, 1857.
Jhver Bhai Patel had two sons-Vithalbhai Patel and Vallabhbhai Patel. Both the brothers had exceptional grit and brilliance which helped them achieve extraordinary heights in their careers. The elder brother Vithalbhai Patel rose to the presiding officer of the Central Legislative Assembly-the office that he held with great tact and dignity, while the younger brother Vallabhbhai Patel rose to be the Deputy Prime Minister of independent India.
Sardar Patel did his primary education in his village. Later on he went to Nadiad and then to Baroda to continue his education. Even as a school child he showed extraordinary fearlessness and will power. Once he fell ill and had a boil near his eye. The village 'vaid' told another person to touch the boil with burning hot iron to cure it. While the other person was hesitating to do so, Vallabhbhai took the red hot iron in his own hands and put it on the boil in a jiffy to the amazement of the on-lookers.
Vallabhbhai saved money to go to England to pursue his studies in Law but his elder brother insisted to go first. It was only after his brother's return that Vallabhbhai went to England and returned as a full-fledged barrister. Later on his hard work and brilliance brought him great name and success as a barrister.
Attracted by the personality and ideology of Gandhiji, he entered politics in 1918. To begin with he was the Secretary to the political Sub-Committee of Provincial Political Conference, which was convened under Gandhiji's guidance. His work brought him great credit and recognition throughout Gujrat.
In those days 'begar' was prevalent in Gujrat. He mobilized public opinion against it, entered into dialogue with the Commissioner and ultimately succeeded in putting an end to this evil. It was his first achievement in public life. Gradually his faith in Gandhiji's methods of truth and non-violence increased and he felt drawn towards Gandhiji and public life.
Sardar Patel tried the Gandhian technique of non-violence in Khera district where the peasants were being compelled by the government to pay the revenue even if the crops had failed. He took up the cause of the peasants and ultimately succeeded in getting the revenue remitted.
Under his leadership strike was organized in Gujrat along with the rest of the country against the Rowlatt Act. It was so successful that the Government was overawed. During the Non-Co-operation Movement, Sardar Patel not only bade goodbye to his legal practice but also prevented his sons from going to England.
One of the most illustrious feathers in Vallabhbhai's cap was the success of Bardoli Satyagrah. Bardoli was a talluka in Gujrat where the revenue was raised by 30 percent despite crop failure and famine. People of the area approached Vallabhbhai to get their grievances redressed. He personally enquired into the matter and found the Government's demand for increase unjustifiable.
He warned the peasants against the hardships all risks involved in the Satyagrah. When he round that they were prepared for them, he launched the Satyagrah, organized and executed it so well that besides winning success it won him me epithet 'Sardar' from Gandhiji.
Sardar Patel had an exceptional organizational skill and had great hold on the masses. He was in the vanguard of the movements launched for undoing the wrong done to the people and for the liberation of the country.
The Congress honoured him by offering him president ship of the party in 1931. He organized the election campaign in 1937, which brought him great applause. The Congress ministries were formed in seven out of eleven provinces. He was elected the chairman of the Parliamentary Board whose function was to supervise the working of the Ministers.
Being one of the leaders of the Independence movement, he had to suffer imprisonment and other hardships. His active participation in 'Quit India Movement' 1942 landed him in jail for three years. In
1945, he was released from jail and he represented the Congress in the Interim Government. He was elected the Deputy Prime Minister in
In the cabinet of free India he held the port folios of Home and state. As Home Minister he had a tough time when the Muslim League launched direct action in several provinces. There was communal hatred and lawlessness all around. But it goes to his credit that he handled the situation very tactfully. Then came the partition of the country which brought in its wake multitude of problems, besides that of law and order. It was a giant-size job to which he proved to be efficient.
But the ticklish problem for tackling which he is most remembered is that of Indian native states, which the outgoing British Government had deliberately left in a mess. The rulers of these big and small states had begun to dream of independent sovereignty. He showed great tact and political acumen in solving this problem. Not only was he successful in persuading the states to join the Indian Union but also was successful in replacing the autocratic structure of the states by democratic governments.
Sardar Patel who was called the 'Iron Man' of India would be long remembered by the generations to come. He made a permanent niche in the Indian history by his political genius, statesmanship and practical idealism.