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‘Some foreign ministers read books’: Jaishankar to Ramachandra Guha after spat on Nehru-Patel

"Some Foreign Ministers do read books. May be a good habit for some Professors too," Jaishankar tells Guha after the latter sought to debunk the myth that Nehru did not want Patel in his cabinet.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 13, 2020 8:22:04 pm
jaishankar ramachandra guha twitter, external affairs minister s jaishankar, historian ramachandra guha, sardar patel jawaharlal nehru equation, nehru cabinet patel home minister The duel started when Jaishankar claimed, citing a book, that Nehru did not want Patel in the Cabinet in 1947

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and noted historian Ramachandra Guha were engaged in a Twitter spat Thursday after the former claimed India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did not want Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his cabinet.

Patel was given the charge of Home Affairs, and Information and Broadcasting ministry in Nehru’s first cabinet in independent India.

Guha responded to Jaishankar’s tweet, asking him to leave the job of “promoting fake news about, and false rivalries between, the builders of modern India” to the BJP’s IT cell. To this, the Union Minister suggested Guha to read books.

“Some Foreign Ministers do read books. May be a good habit for some Professors too. In that case, strongly recommend the one I released yesterday,” he said.

Ramachandra Guha is a writer-historian who has authored several books including the popular India after Gandhi. He is also a recipient of several awards including the Ramnath Goenka Award and the Sahitya Akademi Award.

The Twitter duel began Wednesday night when Jaishankar tweeted about releasing an “absorbing biography” of V P Menon — a senior civil servant who worked closely with Patel — by Narayani Basu. He noted that the book had done “much awaited justice to a truly historical figure”.

“Learnt from the book that Nehru did not want Patel in the Cabinet in 1947 and omitted him from the initial Cabinet list. Clearly, a subject for much debate. Noted that the author stood her ground on this revelation,” he said. Jaishankar’s tweet evoked a sharp response from Guha, who said “this is a myth that has been comprehensively demolished by Professor Srinath Raghavan”.

On Jaishankar’s “book” jibe, Guha shared a screenshot of a letter dated August 1, 1947 addressed to Patel by Nehru, wherein the latter asks Patel to join India’s first cabinet, calling him the “strongest pillar” of that Cabinet. “Can someone show this to Jaishankar, please,” Guha asked on Twitter.

“Sir, since you have a Ph D from JNU you must surely have read more books than me. “Among them must have been the published correspondence of Nehru and Patel which documents how Nehru wanted Patel as the ‘strongest pillar’ of his first Cabinet. Do consult those books again,” he said.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also put his weight behind Guha, sharing pictures of letters by Nehru addressed to Mountbatten naming Patel in his list of ministers. “In the light of the fake news doing the rounds that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did not want Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his cabinet, sharing a series of letters and documents,” Ramesh tweeted.

The BJP, in the past, has repeatedly accused the Congress of insulting Patel and his legacy to benefit the Nehru-Gandhi clan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier dedicated the government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir to Patel. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had also argued that Patel should have handled the Kashmir issue, not Nehru.

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