Vallabh Bhai Patel, the Iron-man of
He started his own practice of law in a place called Godhra. Soon the practice flourished. He saved money, made financial arrangement for the entire family. He got married to Jhaverba. He became a barrister in England and returned to
Endless Public Service
In 1915 he met Mohandas Gandhi and within a short time became one of his closest associates, a staunch nationalist and a supporter of the Indian National Congress. He became an extremely popular person and he got elected to Municipal Corportaion in 1917. Patel came to prominence as the organizer of the Kheda satyagraha (1918) in which peasants sought exemption from land tax. A talented organizer, he successfully directed the civil-disobedience campaigns of the 1920s and 30s; several times he suffered imprisonment. In 1920, the Congress started the non-cooperation struggle and Vallabhbhai gave up his practice. He setup the Gujarat Vidyapeeth where children could study instead of attending Government schools. In 1928 he successfully organized the landowners of Bardoli against British tax increases. It was after this that Vallabhbhai was given the title of Sardar.
He was mayor of Ahmedabad (1924–28) and was elected (1931) president of the Indian National Congress. Later he joined M. K. Gandhi in the Salt satyagraha and was jailed for sixteen months. In 1942 he was imprisoned again, with other Congress leaders, for refusing to support the British war effort in World War II.
Patel played an important role in the negotiations that led to independence and the partition of the subcontinent into the two states of
The Architect of
Patel's lasting achievement was the integration of 562 Indian (princely) states into the Indian Union. In this task Patel acted ruthlessly using force and persuasion alike. He successfully completed this tough task when most of the rulers were dreaming of becoming independent rulers once the British quit
However, neither he nor any other Indian leader had foreseen the intense violence and population transfer that would take place with partition. Patel would take the lead in organizing relief and emergency supplies, establishing refugee camps and visiting the border areas with Pakistani leaders to encourage peace. His address to the massive crowd of an estimated 200,000 refugees who had surrounded his car after a meeting in
Death of the Bharat Ratna
Soon after Gandhi’s death in 1948, Patel suffered a major heart attack; Speaking later, Patel attributed the attack to the "grief bottled up" due to Gandhi's death. However on the morning of 15th December, 1950 Sardar Vallabhbhai passed away in
One day Vallabhbhai had to appear in a very important case. He was arguing before the judge with the utmost concentration. He was still on his feet when an urgent telegram was handed to him. He glanced at the contents and folded and put the paper in his pocket, and went on with the argument. It was only after he concluded his speech and sat down that even those near him learnt the contents of the telegram -his wife was dead! Such was his sense of duty.
As long back as on the 7th of November 1950, Patel wrote a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru and declared that