Sardar VallabhBhai Patel
Sardar VallabhBhai Patel also known as the Iron-Man of India was born on 13th October, 1875, in a small village Karamsad , of the Gujarat region. His father Jhaber Bhai Patel was a simple farmer and mother Laad Bai was a simple lady.
From his childhood, Patel was a very hard-working individual. He used to help his father in farming and studied in a school at Patlaad. He passed his high-school examination in 1896. Throughout school he was a very wise and intelligent student. Inspite of poor financial conditions his father decided to send him to college but VallabhBhai refused. For around three years he stayed at home, worked hard and prepared for the District Leader’s examination, passing with a very good percentage.
Sardar Patel hated to work for anyone especially the British. He was a person of independent nature. He started his own practice of law in a place called Godhara. Soon the practice flourished. He saved money, made financial arrangement for his entire family. He got married to Jhaberaba in 1893. Soon after in 1900 he passed his Law exams and opened his own legal practice in Godhra. However, in 1902 he shifted his legal practice to Borsad and made a name for himself as a criminal lawyer.
In 1904 and 1905 his daughter Maniben, and his son Dahya were born, respectively. He sent his elder brother, the famous Vitthalbhai, to England for higher studies in law. Vitthalbhai, henceforth, returned as a barrister in 1908 and started practising in Bombay. In 1909 his wife became seriously ill and was taken to Bombay for treatment Vallabh Bhai had to go for the hearing of an urgent case and his wife died. He was stunned. He admitted his children in St. Mary’s school Bombay, and he left for England. He never remarried.
In 1912, Sardarji, passed his final exam in 6 terms instead of the usual 12, resulting in a first class degree and was awarded a £50 prize. Now a barrister and returning to India in 1913, he started his practice in Ahmedabad and soon he became aware of the local life, activities and people’s problems. Reached Mumbai on the 13th February. Refused professorship in Government Law College and started an independent practice at Ahmedabad and earned a good name.
Around 1915, he came across Mahatma Gandhi. The Swadeshi Movement was at its peak and Gandhiji gave a lecture at a place in Ahmedabad where Patel heard him and was very impressed. He then started actively participating in the freedom movement. The British government’s atrocities were increasing. They declared to confiscate all the lands of farmers. He forced the British government to amend the rules and brought together the farmers and encouraged them and hence got the title of ‘Sardar’, thus becoming famous. The British government considered him as a threat and his lectures were considered anti-government and he was imprisoned several times. He became an extremely popular person and got elected in the Municipal Corporation in 1917. Ghandiji appointed him the Secretary of the Gujarat pradesh Samelan. Opposed the appointment of a British ICS Officer as the Municipal commissioner and got it cancelled.
1918 saw him arrange a famine relief operation in the Ahmedabad district, and being elected as Chairman of Ahmedabad municipal board in 1919. In 1922, the Government suspended the Ahmedabad Municipality on the issue of supervision of municipal schools. He therefore collected funds from the public and started primary school classes. Sardar Patel was sent by AICC to Nagpur to offer Satyagraha (protest) in 1923. He opposed the education process introduced by the Government of Mumbai and made them withdraw it. Henceforth became known as ‘Board Chief’.
In 1924, he introduced the Khadi uniform for the Municipal staff of Ahmedabad and the Gujarati language for official use. Completed the sewage project. When the worst floods known in the Gujarat state hit in 1927, Sardar Patels efforts saved the city, Ahmedabad. 1928, saw him resign as the Chief of the Ahmedabad municipality. Mumbai took over the land and other property belonging to the agitators for not paying the taxes but he did not withdraw the agitates. The Government released them from jail and taxes were reduced. Officers responsible for repressive measures were suspended. In 1929, he appealed for support to Congress party in the election to political bodies in Maharashtra, Kathiawad and Tamil Nadu.
Sardar Patel was arrested on March 7th 1930 and sentenced to 3 months together with a fine of Rs 500/-. He protested the inferior food supplies in jail. Was released on 26th June, but was re-arrested on 31st July and imprisoned for 3 months at Yarwada Jail. Soon after he gave a speech near Khadi Bhandar, Poona for which was re-arrested again and sentenced to 9 months jail. 1931, saw him being released from Jail in March after undergoing sentence on Ghandi – Irwin Pact issue. Was elected Congress President at Karachi session of AICC. Assisted Ghandiji at the Roundtable Conference. In 1932, arrested at dusk on 4th January and was sentenced for 16 months imprisonment at Yarwada jail along with Ghandiji. His mother died in Karamsad. He was transferred to Nasik Central Jail on 1st August 1933. Elder brother Vithalbhai died on 22nd October. The terms for conditional release on parole for performing last rites set forth by government were rejected by him. He developed a serious nose ailment in 1934 and was released from jail on 14th July, canvassed for Congress party candidate for Assembly election. As the congress decided to contest the Assembly election, he toured the country for canvassing its candidates.
He was elected chairman of the local self-government conference held in Baroda in 1935. Appointed the Chairman of the sub-committee of the congress legislative party in 1936 and was on the selection committee to select candidates for the state assembly elections. Gave guidelines to the congress Governments in the state. 1937 saw him have a difference of opinion with the BPCC. President Shri Nariman on the question of selection of president of the BPCC. Attempt was made on his life in 1938 but was unhurt. Visited the Mysore State and unfurled the congress flag in the state. Under the defence of India rules he was sent to Sabarmati jail in 1940 and thereafter Yarwada jail for offering Satyagraha. Was released from jail on 20th August 1941 on the grounds of health. Condemned communal riots.
In 1942, he took part in the Quit India Movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. He was arrested along with other leaders and was sent to Ahmednagar jail. Inspite of the British Rule, rulers of the small kingdoms were spending a lot of public money, and were having a nice time. Sardar Vallabh Bhai opposed this. With great wisdom and political foresight, he consolidated the small kingdoms. The public was with him. He tackled the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Junagarh who initially did not want to join India. There were a lot of problems connected with the reunion of the numerous states into India. Sardar Patel’s untiring efforts towards the unity of the country brought success. Due to the achievement of this massive task, Sardar Patel got the title of ‘Iron Man’. He is one of the prestigious leaders of the world who became immortal by uniting a scattered nation without any bloodshed. His enthusiasm to work for the independent nation got a big jolt when Gandhiji was murdered. Patel was very attached to Gandhiji and considered him, his elder brother and teacher. Mahatma Gandhi encouraged him in all his work. Gandhiji’s death left him broken.
1945, saw him transferred to the Yarwada Jail. He fell ill and was released on 15th June. Went to Simla to hold talks with the Viceroy and other Indian Leaders. Got Shri Ganesh Mavlankar elected as speaker. Held talks with the British Government in 1946, inviting Muslim league leaders to join them. Initiated military action against the Nawabs of Jamnagar and assured protection to Indian Muslims. Emphasised the significance of maintaining good relations between India and Pakistan. Ordered police action in Hyderabad and wanted UN to treat Kashmir issue in a realistic basis in 1948. He said ‘We have accepted ‘cease fire’ call of the UN. But other party does not seem to agree. We can take care of the Kashmir aggression without any fear if we are released from the solemn reassurances.’
In 1949, he warned terrorists to dissuade themselves or else they would be dealt with severely. At the same time he opposed the linguistic division of the Country. Appealed to RSS to join congress and South Indians to learn Hindi.
Sardar Patel warned Pakistan against the eviction of Hindus from East Pakistan in 1950. He donated Rs15 Lakhs which he had received on his 75th Birthday from Gujarat to the Pradesh congress. Warned China for interference in Tibet.
He fell ill on 15th November and as admitted into hospital on 12th December. On 15th December 1950 he died of a cardiac arrest. The news of his death spread all over the world. The entire nation plunged into deep sorrow; everyday life came to a standstill. A grateful nation paid a tearful homage to its beloved leader.
In 1991 the grateful nation conferred upon him the honour of Bharat Ratna.