Minister of State for Human Resource and Development (HRD) Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday took a jibe at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s claims to Sardar Patel’s legacy, saying for a party that is explicitly founded on principles of communalism to lay claim to iconic leader from Gujarat and India’s first Home Minister is most unfortunate.
“It’s very interesting. We are very honoured when anyone of our great leaders is hailed by a party which itself has no great leaders in the nationalist movement to boast of. So, let us say that it’s a good thing that Sardar Patel’s career and record are being praised by the opposition party. The only thing that worries us is that the ‘Patel’ that Modi speaks about is not the ‘Patel’ of history,” he said.
Tharoor said Sardar Patel was a great figure of Indian unity, a man who brought together the various 625 princely states into the Indian Union.
“All of that we can celebrate. But for a party that is explicitly founded on principles of communalism to lay claim to Patel is most unfortunate because Sardar Patel was somebody who beyond any shadow of a doubt approached the communal question differently from the present leadership of the BJP or its forerunners of that time,” he added.
In a veiled attack on Jawaharlal Nehru, Modi yesterday said the country's destiny would have been different if Sardar Patel had become the country’s first Prime Minister.
Modi, who shared the dais with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in Ahmedabad, credited Patel with uniting the country after Independence.
“That unity and integrity of the country today is under threat from all fronts, be it terrorism or Maoism,” he said.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, while citing the example of Punjab, said that those resorting to violence would not succeed in the country of Mahatma Gandhi and Patel.
“I want to tell the misguided youth who resort to bombs and guns that they cannot succeed in the land of Gandhi and Sardar (Patel). They cause harm to the country. But the biggest harm is caused to their own communities,” he said.
Modi said Patel was a ‘visionary’ who could think about reservation for women way back in 1919.
The Prime Minister went next, stressing that Sardar Patel was a Congressman and committed to secularism.
Dr. Singh said that Sardar Patel and other leaders from his era believed in values like the unity of India and a secular outlook.
“I am sure those present here today will agree that there is a dearth of these values today,” he said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari had yesterday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) of appropriating the legacy of India’s first Home Minister.
“On 9/11/1948, Sardar Patel wrote a letter to Golwalkarji. And, in that letter, he said that the communal poison which had been spread by the RSS was responsible for the sacrifice of Gandhiji. As a student of political history, it has always intrigued me that the RSS, BJP has been attempting unsuccessfully to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel,” Tewari told media here.
“I wanted to ask the BJP or their newly-anointed pretender that do they endorse, or agree with the views of Sardar Patel with regard to the RSS. If not, as the chief minister of Gujarat and possibly as the ‘Swayamsevak’ within history bears testimony to the fact that those who do not have a history of their own, try to appropriate the history of others,” he added.