Patel’s communalism—a documented record


Jawaharlal Nehru (left) and Patel (right) conferring with Mahatma Gandhi at the AICC meeting in Delhi in September 1946. Gandhiji showed shrewd judgment when he anointed Nehru rather than Patel as his successor.

A cabal of self-confessed Hindu nationalists, as distinct from Indian nationalists, consistently lauds Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel because it finds in him a soulmate. He is not praised by himself; significantly, he is always pitted against Nehru.

“The communalism of a majority is apt to be taken for nationalism.”- Jawaharlal Nehru on January 5, 1961.

IN November 1945 one of the top Congress leaders inaugurated on Marine Drive in Mumbai, just next to the Chowpati Beach, the Pransukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Pool. It was, and still is, exclusively for the use of Hindus. Its doors remain shut, even in 2013, for Muslims and other communities. No prizes for guessing who that top leader was. There was one and only one top Congress leader who would have done the deed, namely, Vallabhbhai Patel. For long a plaque on the frontage of the premises boldly proclaimed his achievement.

Its implications were lost on none. The astute advocate of the two-nation theory, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was quick to seize on it. In a statement issued on November 18, 1945, from New Delhi, in a rejoinder to Patel’s speech at the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) session, Jinnah said, “As to his other slogans that Hindus and Muslims are brothers and one nation, the less Sardar Patel talks about it [the] better. It does not come with any grace from his mouth, at any rate. For did not Mr Vallabhbhai Patel perform the opening ceremony of swimming bath in Bombay meant exclusively for Hindus? Has he forgotten that some young men demonstrated protesting against his participation in the opening ceremony of the swimming bath which excluded the Muslim brethren even sharing the sea-water” ( The Nation’s Voice, Volume IV, Waheed Ahmad ed., 1947, 3/3).

Neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) would have stooped to this. Nehru had good reason to write in his Autobiography: “Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak” (page 136).

Patel is best judged by the cabal which idolises him today. L.K. Advani: At Ayodhya on November, 19, 1990: “Henceforth, only those who fight for Hindu interests would rule India.” October 2, 1990: “Secular policy is putting unreasonable restrictions on Hindu aspirations.” To the BBC: “It would not be wrong to call the BJP a Hindu party” ( Organiser, August 5, 1989; emphasis added, throughout). On October 17, 1989, The Times of India editorially censured him: “Mr Advani while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation” (for details vide the writer’s book The RSS and the BJP, LeftWord, Chapter 4, “The RSS and Gandhi”). The BJP’s affection for Gandhi is a recent and calculated development.

Narendra Modi, an erstwhile protege who ousted Advani from the pedestal, follows the line with greater gusto. “The nation and Hindus are one. Only if Hindus develop will the nation develop. Unity of Hindus will strengthen the nation,” he said in the presence of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at a Hindu Samajotsava organised by the RSS in Mangalore. He said: “In Gujarat, an ordinary swayamsewak of the RSS [that is, Modi himself] is toiling to make Gujarat the number one State in the country,” and added that he had “spent his entire life for Hindu Samaj” ( Organiser, February 11, 2007).

Recently in an interview to Reuters, after his succession was all but sealed, Modi was asked, “But do you think you did the right thing in 2002?” He replied, “Absolutely”. He was also asked, “People want to know who is the real Modi—Hindu nationalist leader or pro-business Chief Minister.” Modi amply proved the truth of Nehru’s remark quoted at the beginning of this article: “I am a nationalist. I’m patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I am a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So, I am a Hindu nationalist. So, yes, you can say I’m a Hindu nationalist because I’m a born Hindu” ( Indian Express, July 13, 2013). This is the very man who aspires to be our next Prime Minister.

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