Questioning as to why Maulana Azad was not conferred the Bharat Ratna during the rule of Nehru-Gandhi family, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today alleged that leaders critical of the first Prime Minister were not given the respect they deserved.
Hitting back at senior Congress leader S Jaipal Reddy, the Law Minister said differences between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru are too well known and there was also a difference initially between the two on the 1948 “police action” following which the Hyderabad state, which was under the Nizam’s rule, merged with the Indian Union.
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“He (Jaipal Reddy) has said there were no differences (between Nehru and Patel) and that they were comrades in arms for 10 years. Jaipal Reddy was saying that the Law Minister (Prasad) was speaking unlawfully. I was not speaking unlawfully. I was speaking factually,” Prasad told PTI here.
The senior BJP leader asked why Patel, a “great Indian” who unified in India and died in 1950, was given the country’s highest civilian award only in 1991.
“Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister for 14 years thereafter (after 1950) and his daughter Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister for 16 years thereafter. Why is it that so many people were given Bharat Ratna for good reasons, but this great Indian Sardar Patel was ignored? It was only when (P V) Narasimha Rao outside the (Nehru-Gandhi) family became Prime Minister in 1991 that he was given a Bharat Ratna,” he noted.
He also asked as to why Maulana Azad, another great Indian who died in 1958, was given Bharat Ratna only in 1992.
“The conduct of the (Nehru-Gandhi) family of the Congress which ruled the country for so many years clearly shows that all those who were critical of Jawaharlal Nehru were not given the respect that they deserved,” Prasad said.
“I firmly stand by my view that there was a conscious, deliberate attempt to ignore the great legacy of Sardar Patel during the Congress regimes. Ample history bears testimony to that,” the Minister added.
Reddy had yesterday said BJP was using Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel only to target Jawaharlal Nehru, and it did not have any real affection for the ‘Iron Man’.
Taking exception to the comments of BJP leaders on Nehru in recent times, Reddy said Nehru and Patel were colleagues in the freedom struggle, and they did not have differences on any issue.