Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was one of India’s most prominent leaders of India’s freedom struggle and unlike most leaders of those times; he was also instrumental in shaping the India we see it now. Here are 30 facts about the great man, every Indian should be aware off.
1. A late bloomer:
One of the brightest minds in India’s history was a late bloomer. He completed his matriculation at the age of 22, only to go on and start studying law at the age of 36.
2. Quick learner:
He was one of the very few people to complete his 36-month barrister course early. He completed the course in just 30 months.
3. Won a tax holiday:
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology, Vallabhbhai Patel created a Lagaan-like movement on his own where he motivated farmers of a few villages to take part in a non-violent protest against taxes. As a result, the British government gave them a tax holiday that year.
4. Headed the Congress:
In 1920, he became the president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress committee and held the post until 1945 taking care of everything happening in that province.
5. Leader in Gandhi’s absence:
After Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned for the Civil Disobedience movement, Patel led a Satyagraha in Nagpur against the British government demanding they be allowed to hoist the Indian national flag.
6. Headed Municipality:
Even while being rebellious, he was elected as the municipal president of Ahmadabad four times during the period where he led nation-wide protests against the same government he worked for.
7. Quit India movement was his brainchild:
He started the Quit India movement and was arrested for it. He was one of the first mainstream leaders to voice their opinion against India being offered autonomy by the British Empire and demanded a completely Indian-controlled state.
8. Dual role after independence:
Post Independence, he was a vital member of the government as he was given the responsibility of being the Home Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.
9. Saviour of the refugees:
As a part of being a home minister, he took it upon himself to cater to the millions of refugees displaced due to the partition and made elaborate arrangements for them to settle in India.
10. Got Princely states into the country:
In his capacity as the home minister, he mobilized all the princely states to surrender to India or run the risk of being annexed, to which most states responded in a positive way.
11. Used necessary force in Hyderabad:
The Hyderabad region, which was ruled by the Nizams, wasn’t ready to become a part of India and wanted to remain independent. Pakistan had got a hint of this and wanted to make the most of the situation but before it could reach that point, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel flew down to Hyderabad and informed the Nizam that the city was surrounded by the police of the India republic and got him to surrender.
12. Moved quickly to get Kashmir and Junagarh:
He was also instrumental and was the mastermind in engineering the move behind getting the princely states of Kashmir and Junagarh under the Indian umbrella.
13. Lost his loved one:
His wife Javerba was suffering from cancer and was admitted to a hospital in the then Bombay where she eventually passed away. This didn’t stop him from fighting for the cause of India freedom, which he did successfully.
14. Mobilized the villages:
He took it onto himself to visit every village and mobilize people personally to stop paying taxes which he did to great effect and ensured a revolt followed.
15. Was titled ‘Sardar’:
In 1928, he mobilized people of the Bardoli district, which was hit by famine and a 30 percent increase in taxes. The satyagraha led to the British giving into their demands and he was then bestowed with the title ‘Sardar (leader) by his colleagues.
16. Stepped down for Nehru:
Always a believer in staying behind the scenes and doing the leg work over taking the limelight, he stepped down during the 1946 elections to let Nehru take the complete majority. Rumour has it, he was the front-runner to become the prime minister but he stepped down only because Mahatma Gandhi asked him to do so.
17. Supported Pakistan’s formation:
Contrary to popular belief, Vallabhbhai Patel was a staunch supporter of dividing the country into two to curb the rising threat of revolting Muslims led by Muhammed Ali Jinnah.
18. Appointed BR Ambedkar:
Dr B R Ambedkar, the creator of one of the most well thought out constitutions of India was only there because Valabhbhai Patel nominated him and vehemently supported him.
19. Ensured basic rights:
He played a crucial part in forming certain aspects of India’s constitutional system like Fundamental rights, tribal affairs and minority welfare. He influenced and approved these decisions in his capacity as the chairman of these various committees.
20. Supported Privy purses:
He persuaded the constituent assembly to guarantee the payment of Privy purses, a bill which favoured the British colonizers. However, the constituent assembly came out in numbers to oppose it and the move fell flat.
21. Opposed RSS:
He was against the idea of letting Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh exist and was one of the very few people to have opposed the hard-line Hindu outfit in the press too.
22. The Iron man of India:
He worked as a farmer as a kid and was also struck by plague when he was very young. But he survived all this which led to the expression ‘ iron man’ or ‘a man with nerves of iron’ being used to describe him.
23. Clash with Nehru:
He along with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were the helm of affairs post independence, which meant a lot of work. Legend has it that in a particular altercation between the two, Nehru called him communal following which he just picked up his bags and left. The two never spoke after this.
24. Framed the IAS:
He was a key part of framing the Indian Administrative Services, for which, the country still is thankful to him. The system has been the backbone of India’s growth and it still remains that.
25. His love for Gandhi:
He was a Gandhian through and through and shared a very good relationship with the father of the nation. The bond between the two was so deep that his health started deteriorating post the assassination of Gandhi and he died of a heart attack two months later on 15 December 1950.
26. A Symbol of Unity:
His birth date, which is also not the exact date – October 31 – is celebrated as Ekta Divas or National Unity Day as a sign of respect to thank him for what he has done in the cause of uniting the nation.
27. Bharat Ratna:
He was bestowed with the Bharat Ratna in the year 1991.
28. Featured in books and films:
He finds a mention in Shashi Tharoor’s masterpiece – The Great Indian Novel – where the character of Vidur Hastinapura is based on him. There are many famous biopics of him too.
29. His name lives on:
In his honor, many top institutions, airports dams, stadiums and major public places have been named after him.
30. The statue of unity:
In the latest development, a statue of the great man is being constructed in Gujarat and this will be the tallest statue in the world once it is completed at a height of 597 feet. Known as the statue of unity, this will be spread over an area of 12 kilometers and will have an artificial lake around it too.