SARDAR PATEL AND INDIAN MUSLIM : Prof.MehboobDesai

SARDAR PATEL AND INDIAN MUSLIM

Prof.MehboobDesai

On the 4th January 1932, Sardar Patel was arrested
Along with Gandhiji for taking part in Civil Disobedience
Movement. Both were taken to Yeravada jail, where
Sardar stayed with Gandhiji for 16 months. During this
period they used to discuss often the Hindu-Muslim
problems. These discussions gave a true shape to Sardar’s
approach towards Muslims.As Sardar respected
Gandhiji’s views,Gandhiji played-conspicuous role in
moulding and changing Sardar’s attitude towards Muslims
during those days . For example, on a morning of 30.3.1932
an issue of a Muslim leader having come under discussion,
Sardar Patel abruptly said:
“When a critical situation emarges, this
gentleman too reports to narrow and communal
attitude and demands separate fund and appeal
for the muslims”
in reply Gandhiji said:
“He cannot be blamed for the reason. What
favours do we render the Muslims! We deal with
them as if they were untouchable. Therefore if Amtus
Salam has to be sent to Deolali,can we suggest
keeping her there? As a matter of fact the Hindus
should advance forward.if the Hindus understand
the heart of the matter , and the wall of
discrimination,which has been raised,is removed,
it can reduce the bitterness considerably.”
Vallabhbhai argues:

“But the Muslims differ in customs they are non-
vegetarian where as we believe in vegetarianism, it
is impossible to stay with them in a single home.”
Bapu counters:
“No,No,Hindus are no where Vegetarian except
in Gujarat. Every Hindu eats meat in Punjab, Sindh,
and Utter Pradesh.”
On the 6th June 1932, Sardar Patel with as dismal
note asked Gandhiji at Yeravada Jail:
“Is there any Muslim who pays attention to what
You say?”
In reply Gandhiji said:
“Doesn’t Matter ,it does not make any difference,
but let us hope that they too open their eyes.The
very base of the Satyagraha is that we should trust
human nature which means at least one Muslim
will certainly come out to say,’we cannot bear if
this much takes place”2
On the 8th April 1933 Sardar Patel referring to
Indian Muslims said to Gandhiji:
“The Muslims are tongue-tied. They do not speak
a word and they are fairly co-operating the
Government”
Bapu’s reply was:
“The Hindu-Muslim unity is never to realize till
the Muslims do not see their own welfare in the
welfare of the country.”3

Such dialogue only which had taken place between
Sardar and Gandhiji at the Yeravada Jail had made a
noticeable contribution in changing Sardar’s attitude
towards the Muslims and giving it a constructive mould,
the effect of which is discernible in Sardar’s later attitude
towards the Muslim of India.

After his release from the Jail,Sardar Patel was
appointed as the president of the congress Parliamentary
Board to select the candidates for the elections of State
Legislative Assemblies. Those elections were being held
in accordance with the 1935 State Assembly Law. Due
to the leadership of Sardar Patel, the Congress ministries
were formed in five states out of the eleven. During this
period only Mohammad Ali Jinnah was becoming active
in the political arena of the Muslim League and because
of his efforts the Muslims League candidates in Bombay
and U.P. had put up good performance, Talks started
for the construction of united of Governments of the
Congress and the Muslims League in the several states.
Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad represented the
Congress albeit this debate ended in failure. Several
historians consider Nehru’s unrealistic policy responsible
for this failure. Nehru had, during the debate put a
condition that at first the Muslim League should merge
with the Congress, then and then only the construction
of the united Govt. be considered.Sardar Patel was
kept quite aloof from this debate,but when he come to
know about this type of attitude of Nehru, he had said:

“If the chief leader of the Muslim League
Khaliquzzaman were consulted, certain compromise
would have been taken place.”

Majority of the historians agree with this opinion
and say that this agreement could have certainly avoided
partition Gandhiji’s Secretary shri Pyarelal Writes:
“This was the mistake of a prime order so far
as policy is concerned.”
The news writer of the “The Times” of London of
Delhi,Mr.Louis Horren hasd also written:
“After several months of partition Mr. Jinnah
had told me that Nehru was responsible for
partition. If the Muslim League were included in
the Congress Governments of 1937 in U.P.,Pakistan
would not have been born.”4

The British officer Penderal Moon active in ICS before
and after the Independence had also shared the opinion
and said that:
“The Prime cause of the Creation of Pakistan
was Congress’s failure to cooperate with the league
in 1937.”

Franh Morays,the British historian also putting
the same argument, “Pakistan might never have come
into being’ had ‘Congress handled the League more
tactfully after the [1937] election”.5

the historical events are analyzed under these types
of ‘IFS’ and ‘THEN’, but the essence of all such arguments
is that Sardar was kept aloof from all such discussions.
If Sardar who was protagonist in the merger of Princely
States in Indian Union, if he were the Participant of
this debate ,the history of India after Independence would
have been certainly different from what it is.

After this event, the communal and separatist
tendency of League leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah
intensified;which can be seen in his communal speeches.
Sardar Patel was much perturbed with Mr. Jinnah’s
speeches vomiting communal poison and the Muslim
community was consciously led away by a Muslim leader
whose aim was to shatter and bring to pieces the Hindu-
Muslim unity.Sardar found it impossible to understand
why maulana Azad,who had digested the Islam deeply,
hesitated to expose Jinnah’s hollowness. Mohammad
Ali Jinnah hardly possessed the principles of a true
Muslim.He never remained strictly faithful to the Islamic
Principles like following the five times Namaz everyday
and abstinence from alcohol. The question as to why the
staunch Muslims still followed Jinnah puzzled Sardar.
However,Sardar Patel expressed in public his internal
desire for communal harmony against Jinnah’s speeches
vomiting communal poison. In the year 1936,in U.P., as
a president of the farmer’s gathering he had said:

“The kisan Community cannot have such
differences as Hindu & Muslim or one caste or
the other,a cultivator who produces corn with his
hard labour, a small land owner ,a farmer, or a
labourer helping the farmer in cultivation, let them
belong to any faith or caste, are all farmers only.
All are sailing in the same boat; all with sink in or
swim out together. Nature never sees such differences
of religion or caste. Nature is impartial when it
strikes on them in the form of a natural calamity
or showers favours on them. The monetary suffering
of all the farmer is equal.Our sufferings will end
only then when we all remain faithful to our faith
and sect,setting aside differences,bringing end to
communal infightings joins together in the mission
of economic, social and political uplift.”6

Jinnah’s Communal Policy was naturally supported
by the British Govt. as a result of which his efforts to
disturb communal harmony met some success, which
led him to rumblings with granted enthusiasm and greater
malice – such as:

“Cogress wishes to establish The Hindu Raj”
while refusing this statement of Jinnah, Sardar Patel
had said in the 11th session of the Legislative Assembly
at Rajpipla as the President on the 25th December 1937:

“The nation’s legislative assembly is a formidable
organization which seeks independence not for 25
crores of its people but it aspires for the same goal
for 35 crores that includes Hindus,Muslims,Parsees,
Christian and all others taken together.”7

This policy of Sardar had received positive response
from the people in his activities of public concern. The
Congress Session of February 1938 was conducted entirely
under his supervision. He had selected Haripura Village
on the bank of river Tapi in Bardoli Taluka for
the Congress Session. At the same time not only Hindus
but also Muslim farmers also had spared their 500 acres
of land of the village for this session, with least hesitation.
sardar had obtained as much trust and affinity with
the Muslim leaders as he had from and with the Hindus
by the end of 1938,Subhas Chandra Bose decided that
he wished to continue as a Congress President for the
second year also.Sardar Patel did not like this declaration
of Subhas Babu.Many reasons were of course responsible
for this.Gandhiji also had thought of the name of Maulana
Azad for it.And Sardar Patel had supported this view
of Gandhiji.

Maulana Azad,however,expressed his unwillngness
to accept the Presidentship of the Congress but agreed
to accept it after long discussion with Gandhiji and
Sardar at Bardoli on January 1939.Referring to this
Sardar Patel wrote to Rajendra Babu.

“We have been able to persuade Maulana to
accept the Responsibility….After hesitation for a
long time he has given his assent to it.”

After Maulana Azad’s consent having been given,
Vallabhbhai Patel also took back candidature formally.
But Maulana Azad after returning to Bombay from Bardoli
changed his early decision and approached Gandhiji to
make himself free from his early consent of acceptance
of the Presidentship.Maulana Azad,who was himself
the resident of Calcatta,perhaps felt that it might he
unfair and may be unpleasant to indulge in rivalry with
anther Bengali.However,Subhas Babu had been elected
with 1580 against 1375 as a president on the 29th of
January 1939. 8

But the fact that the manner in which Vallabhbhai
had acceped Gandhiji’s opinion of suggesting the name
of Maulana Azad in place of the name of Subhas Babu,
for the Presidentship of the Congress, itself exhibits
Sardar’s mind as far more inclined towards communal
Harmony as being communal.

References
1. Mahadevbhai’s Diary,Volume-1,p.65.
2. Parikh Narhari,Sardar Vallabhbhai Part-II,p.109.
3. Mahadevbhai’s Diary,Volume-3,p.222.
4.Zakaria,Rafiq,Sardar Patel and Indian Muslims,p.37
5.Gandhi,Rajmohan,Patel A Life,p.262.
6.Parikh,Narhari and Shah,Uttamchand[Editors] Speeches
of Sardar Vallabhbhai p.33.
7. Parikh & Shah,Speeches of Sarder Patel,p. 416.
8. Gandhi,Rajmohan,Patel A Life,p.279.

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