Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born in 1875 at Karamsad, a village in Kaira district in Gujarat. He was a farmer coming from a farmer’s family. At school, he was a naughty and mischievous boy. In due course, he passed his matriculation examination and after some years he passed the Law examination. He practiced as a lawyer at Godhra.
He carried on a roaring legal practice. As he was ambitious, he went to England and became a barister-at-law. In 1923, he became the leader of Bardoli Satyagraha. Since then, he came to be called Sardar Patel. His elder brother, Mr. Vithalbhai Patel, was the President of the Indian Legislative Assembly.
He was jailed several times in connection with the freedom movement. He was the right hand man of Mahatma Gandhi and his most trusted lieutenant. It was Patel who maintained discipline in the Congress ranks. In 1936, the Congress at the General Election won the majority of seats in seven provinces of British India.
Sardar Patel, as the most important member of the Central Parliamentary Board, controlled with a firm hand the Congress Ministries in the seven provinces. In 1947, India was partitioned into Pakistan and free India. Sardar Patel became free India’s first deputy Prime Minister, pandit Jawaharlal Nehru being the first Prime Minister. He was in charge of the Home Department and administered law and order.
Future historians will marvel at his organizing capacity and superhuman ability. The integration of 600 Princely States and the elimination of autocratic rule of the Maharajas and Nawabs will ever stand out as his unique and greatest achievement. He did it without bloodshed and in the short span of two years.
Was it not a miracle? To him rightly goes the credit of completely changing the map of India. Tribal raiders and Pakistani troops attacked Kashmir and tried to secure accession by force. He saw the writing on the wall. The Indian armies landed in Kashmir by air.
The tide was stemmed, the tables were turned. The tribal raiders and Pakistani troops were made to flee. Cease-fire was proclaimed in January 1949. The police action against the Nizam of Hyderabad showed his iron will to see a thing through, no matter how insurmountable the difficulties and how great the opposition.
He was essentially a man of action. He was India’s man of destiny. He was the steel man of India. He was the brightest luminary on the home front. He was a walking volcano with fires raging in his heart. He was not a man to be ignored or trifled with. Defeat he never knew, weakness he never felt and indiscipline he never tolerated.
He was a pillar of fire and enthusiasm, but like a practical statesman, he was also calm and unfathomable. He never hesitated to take a decisive step. He combined quickness of decision with resourcefulness.
He was the greatest administrator and the best statesman that India has ever produced. His death on 15th December 1950, left India poorer. By his death free India has suffered a loss in political leadership that is difficult to repair.