As part of the publicity blitzkrieg launched by the Gujarat government to draw crowds to the Statue of Unity is an abridged biography of Sardar Patel that glorifies the leader as doing Mahatma Gandhi’s bidding by sticking around with Jawaharlal Nehru even though their thinking clashed.
The book — Hind na Sardar in Gujarati, Sardar of India in English and Hind ke Sardar in Hindi — originally written by his contemporary Ravjibhai Manibhai Patel in 1962, and published by Gandhian Navjivan Press, is being distributed in the ongoing government-sponsored Ekta Yatra. The book — the government has commissioned 25,000 copies of the book from Navjivan Press — will also be distributed among guests visiting the Statue of Unity in Narmada district.
While the biography covers various aspects of Sardar Patel’s life — his schooldays, his law career, Bardoli Satyagraha, his efforts in unifying the princely states among others — it has a chapter, Conflict of Natures, that describes the differences between him and Nehru after Independence. The book records that after Gandhi’s assassination, Sardar “…spent the next two years as the loyal colleague of Nehru to do his duty by Gandhiji… Yet the differences between Nehru and Sardar were not completely over. And in spite of that their oath of loyalty made them work together continuously. In an intolerable situation, Sardar continued to serve the nation after the death of Bapu, with complete loyalty and respect to Nehru…Time and again, he set aside his differences for smooth working of the nation”.
It goes on to quote Sardar’s October 2, 1950 speech that he made in Indore. “Our leader is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Bapu had appointed him as his successor and had declared it too. All the soldiers of Bapu have the obligation to follow Bapu’s orders in totality. Those who do not follow these orders with their hearts are sinners of God. I am not a disloyal soldier. The position in which I am, I do not think of it at all. I know only this — that I am where Bapu placed me,” Sardar Patel is quoted as saying.
It is to be noted that the book has been ‘re-compiled’ to the extent that it has added a message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and around 15 pages devoted to the Statue of Unity project.
Managing Trustee of Navjivan Trust Vivek Desai said, “The original content of the book has not been touched at all.”