Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have created ripples with his remark that Mahatma Gandhi seems “incomplete” without Sardar Patel and both formed an “unbreakable pair”. The yellowing pages of the prisoners records at Yerawada Central Prison (YCP) would vouch for that.
Patel, the ‘Iron Man’ of India, served three terms at YCP, one along with Gandhiji. All his sentences were in context with calls for the national movement made by the ‘Father of the Nation’.
Patel’s second and longest term was from January 4, 1932 to August 1, 1933, when he was imprisoned along with Mahatma Gandhi. It is believed that during this imprisonment, Patel and Gandhi had drawn closer to each other, and developed a bond of affection and trust.
The first Home Minister of the country, Patel served his first term at Yerwada in 1930, serving simple imprisonment for participating in Gandhiji’s salt satyagraha. As per jail records, Patel was lodged at the prison from August 10, 1930 to November 6, 1930.
Fondly called Sardar by followers, Patel was lodged in Pune jail from April 18, 1945 to June 15, 1945 for participating in Gandhiji’s call for individual satyagraha and Quit India Movement. As per historical references, Gandhiji had planned individual satyagraha against India being drawn into World War II without being consulted, and Patel was among the first batch of leaders to offer satyagraha.
Records of his first imprisonment show Patel was prisoner number 15,542 and had walked in with four rupees, four annas and two paise in his pockets. He is described as “Vallabhbhai Zaverbhai Patel” having caste “Patel” and religion “Hindu”. Booked under IPC 143 (unlawful assembly), height of then 56-year old Patel was registered as 5’6’’ by prison authorities.
“When we see Ramakrishna Paramhans, he appears incomplete without Swami Vivekananda. When we see Mahatma Gandhi, he appears incomplete without Sardar Patel,” Modi had said on Friday.
Socialist leader Bhai Vaidya described Patel as a “practical politician” who had respect for Gandhiji. Vaidya, however, said Modi and his team were extolling Patel to undermine the impression of the Gandhi-Nehru family on the masses.