TAKING A swipe at the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said “history will seek answers” from those who did not project Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the past. He hailed the country’s first Home Minister as a leader who did nothing for his family, and his family also did not take a “copyright” over him.
Modi also said that most states were in favour of Patel, and not Jawaharlal Nehru, heading the government after Independence, but Sardar accepted Mahatma Gandhi’s wishes, which saw Nehru become the first Prime Minister.
In a lighter vein, he said perhaps Gandhi, being a Gujarati himself, did not want to pick another Gujarati.
Flagging off the ceremony of ‘Run for Unity’ on Patel’s birth anniversary, which the Modi government is celebrating as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, the Prime Minister said that a national icon is being “projected in Delhi in this manner” so many years after Independence, and after Patel’s dearth.
“It should have happened 40, 50 or 60 years ago, but I don’t know why it was not done. History will seek answers for those who have not done it. We only moved forward on this with the aim of doing something,” Modi said.
Speaking at another event where he inaugurated a digital exhibition on Patel’s life, Modi said he is surprised that he is sometimes asked what right does he have, as a BJP leader, to celebrate Patel’s birth anniversary. “But Sardar was the kind of person whose family has not taken any copyright. Anyway, in public life he did not do anything for his family. Whatever he did was as duty for the country,” he said in another unnamed swipe at the Gandhi family. Modi said that some people were so great that attempts over the last nearly 70 years to ensure that their contributions are forgotten have had no success.
The Congress has time and again accused the BJP of trying to “appropriate” Patel’s legacy, while many BJP leaders maintain that the contribution of Patel and many other leaders of the freedom struggle were “ignored” at the cost of the Nehru-Gandhi family.