|Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel|
‘The Iron Man of India’, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950) was a freedom fighter as well as the first Deputy Prime Minister of independent India.
He belonged to the farming community and his patriotic father Jhaverbhai had been a soldier of the first freedom fight of 1857. Born on 31st October 1875 in Karamsad village of Gujarat, Vallabhbhai showed signs of leadership from his strong will power.
He was married in 1891 and completed his Matriculation in 1897. Then he became a district pleader and started practicing in Godhra and later in Borsad. In 1910 he went to England to study law and stood first in the examination of Bar-at-law. After returning in 1913, he began practicing in Ahmedabad and earned a good name as a criminal lawyer. He was more like an Englishman and had no interest in politics or freedom struggle.
Then Vallabhbhai Patel met Mahatma Gandhi and soon they two became good friends. Slowly Vallabhbhai got involved and became one of the chief generals in the country’s fight against the British rule. He helped eradicating the evil custom of ‘Begar’ from Gujarat.
In 1918 the farmers of Gujarat were in trouble as heavy rains had destroyed the crops and the government insisted on them paying the taxes. Vallabhbhai gave courage to the farmers to fight against the injustice and finally the British had to remit the taxes.
During the Non Cooperation Movement, he left his lucrative law practice. He started Gujarat Vidyapeeth to boycott the government run schools. When the people of Bardoli had problems due to the natural calamities followed by the increase in government taxes, Vallabhbhai Patel stood like a pillar of strength. He led the people through the very difficult Satyagraha, till the government withdrew its unjust taxes. Then Gandhiji conferred the title of ‘Sardar’ on Vallabhbhai.
In 1930 he was jailed twice and in 1931, his fiery speeches as the President of the Congress session landed him in prison. During the 1942 ‘Quit India Movement’ he was imprisoned for three years.
He was appointed the Deputy Prime Minister of independent India and he was also the Home and State Minister. Sardar Patel efficiently handled the tough situation of partition and the communal riots. He also managed the tricky problem of independent Princely states and made sure that these rulers joined the Indian Union. That’s how he earned the name ‘The Iron Man of India’.
Sardar Patel left for his heavenly abode on 15th December 1950.
|Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with Mahatma Gandhi|
|Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Abdul Kalam Maulana Azad at Khadi Pratishthan|
|A news photo from 1939, showing Nehru, Gandhi, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (to the right, in the foreground, wearing the dhoti) in Bombay|
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a man of steel contrasted with Nehru