New Delhi: There are no friends or foes in politics, especially friends. The adage, at least in India, was imbued with real meaning by none other than the Nehru-Gandhi clan, starting with how Nehru usurped the post of India’s first prime minister, overthrowing Sardar Patel.
Sardar Patel, whose birthday we celebrate today as National Unity Day – acknowledging India’s debt to him for integrating India’s warring princely states to do what the India is today – was not only humiliated at every step by Nehru, but the latter went so far as to reduce Sardar’s daughter, Maniben, to extreme poverty.
Ironically, today is also the anniversary of Indira Gandhi’s death. It is the story of two girls with very different destinies: while Nehru founds a political dynasty in Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Sardar Patel, a true Gandhian until her last breath, is left to die a painful death, without the penny.
Nehru’s daughter, PM, Sardar Patel’s daughter, Pauper
While Nehru ensured that his daughter became the Prime Minister of India, he also ensured that Sardar’s lineage was forgotten in the pages of history.
Having served the people of Gujarat, especially the dairy revolution based in Anand, Maniben in old age was not able to see properly and wandered the streets of Ahmedabad, often tripping and falling on the road, until he a passer-by helps him up. his foot.
The heartbreaking ordeal that Maniben had to endure in her lifetime – she is the daughter of one of India’s most powerful people, the leading figure in Congress, the brother of Mahatma Gandhi, the who brought the Nizam of Hyderabad to his knees – was recorded in his own words in the biography of the Varghese Kurien.
Kurien is known as the ‘Father of the White Revolution in India’, a recipient of the Magsaysay Award and three Padma Awards. He is what Amul represents.
Nehru never cared about Maniben after Sardar’s death
Kurien in her biography, titled “I Too Had A Dream” recorded Maniben’s painful story as she recounted how badly she was treated by Nehru.
Kurien notes, “She was extremely discouraged and in a way this incident revealed the extent of the tension in the Nehru-Sardar Patel relationship. It was rather distressing that neither Nehru nor any of the national leaders of the Congress Party had ever bothered to find out what had happened to Maniben after his father’s death.
Scrupulous Patel vs Selfish Nehru
So what was this incident that Kurien referred to?
Kurien observes that Maniben “was a woman of extraordinary honesty and loyalty” before recounting the incident.
“She (Maniben) told me that when Sardar Patel passed away, she picked up a book and a bag which belonged to him and went to meet Jawaharlal Nehru in Delhi. She handed them over to Nehru, telling him that his father had says that when she dies, she should give these items to Nehru and no one else.The bag contained Rs 35 lakh which belonged to the Congress Party and the book was the account book of the party.
It was during this same encounter that Nehru showed his true colors.
While Maniben thought Nehru was going to inquire what she was going to do now that her father was gone, India’s PM gave her a cold shoulder much to her dismay instead of any sympathy which is a matter of common decency in all cultures around. the world after the loss of a loved one.
“Maniben waited impatiently, hoping he (Nehru) would say something more, but he didn’t, so she got up and left,” Kurien wrote.
Sardar Patel’s daughter didn’t expect much from Nehru
One would think what Maniben expected from Nehru. Maniben later told Kurien that she expected very little, just a few kind words and a kind gesture since her father, Sardar Patel, passed away.
“I thought he might ask me how I was going to manage now, or at least ask if he could do something to help me. But he never asked,” Maniben had told Kurien.
Maniben had no money, no house, no car; traveled by bus, 3rd class by train
Kurien observes in his autobiography that Maniben had no money of her own. After Sardar Patel’s death, the Birlas asked her to stay at Birla House for some time, “but the arrangement did not suit her” and she moved in with her cousin in Ahmedabad.
“She didn’t have a car, so she traveled by bus or third class on trains,” Kurien notes.
Later, a family friend got Sardar Patel’s daughter elected to Parliament, but even then, as an MP “…like a true Gandhian, she continued to travel third class”.
“She only wore Khadi sarees made of yarn that she spun herself and everywhere she went she carried her spinning wheel.”
Congressional photo op as she died
Sardar Patel’s daughter has come to a sad end.
“After all the sacrifices Sardar Patel made for the nation, he was very sad that the nation did nothing for his daughter. In her later years, when her eyesight failed, she walked the streets unaided from Ahmedabad, stumbled and fell often until a passerby helped him up,” laments Kurien.
But, was that the end of the chicanery of Congress? No.
“When she was dying, Chief Minister of Gujarat Chimanbhai Patel came to her bedside with a photographer. He stood behind her bed and asked her to take a picture.
The photograph was published in all the newspapers the next day. With little effort, they could easily have made his last years comfortable.
Kurien makes even irony cry out in agony with those words.
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