Allegations that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was anti-Muslim were not true, senior BJP leader L K Advani said on Tuesday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader quoted Rafiq Zakaria, an Islamic scholar and Congress leader who has done research on the "Iron Man", to underline his statement.
In his blog, Advani expressed surprise at a "perverse" article in a national magazine which quoted records to brand Sardar Patel as a man "rabidly communal in outlook" and Jawaharlal Nehru as a symbol "of secular nationalism".
The article said this was the reason why the Sangh Parivar "worships one and hates the other".
Advani presented Zakaria's views to counter the charge. Zakaria is considered an authority on subjects related to Indian Muslims.
Quoting Zakaria's book based on his lectures on "Sardar Patel and Indian Muslims", Advani said the Congress leader too was under the impression that Sardar Patel did not like Muslims.
"I thought he (Patel) was unabashedly anti-Muslim. Should I, therefore, I wondered, venture on a theme in lectures organised in his memory, which may be critical of him," Zakaria wrote.
"The more I researched, the more I was convinced that the 'Iron Man' had been misunderstood in many respects and there were cobwebs about his attitude toward Indian Muslims, which needed to be removed. I am glad I was able to do so to my satisfaction," Advani quoted from the book in his blog.
Attempts by BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to capitalise upon Patel's legacy recently fuelled a spat between the party and the Congress.