Even a cursory read on why Gandhiji made Jawaharlal Nehru the PM by asking Sardar Patel to bring the curtains down on his PM ambitions will leave you wondering as to how predilection and nepotism ruled the roost in the days leading to India’s independence
Bengaluru: Sardar Patel was a man whom every Indian reveres for his phenomenal role in unifying the princely states with India.
Many wonder as to why he didn’t become the Prime Minister of India even though he had the political calibre and the administrative acumen and ended up becoming Nehru’s deputy. The answer to this allegedly lies in Gandhi’s predilection or nepotism for Nehru.
When we did our R&D on the issue, we came across a website Northlines which dealt with the issue in detail. As per the content available, in the year 1946, as per the norms then, the nominations for the post of president of the Congress party (who would more or less automatically become the first PM of independent India) were to be done by 15 state/regional committees.
But out of the 15 state/regional committees, 12 proposed the name of Sardar Patel while the remaining three did not propose anyone.
It is at this crucial juncture that Mahatma Gandhiji stepped in. As soon as he learnt of this development, he instructed Acharya JB Kriplani to talk to a few members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and convince them into nominating Nehru as the candidate.
Incidentally, when Gandhiji apprised Nehru that he was nominated only by a few CWC members, Nehru was distraught and in a mood of defiance, said to Gandhi in no uncertain terms that he would not be anyone’s deputy.
So with no other option left, Gandhiji summoned Patel and ordered him to withdraw his nominations. Much to his order, Patel withdrew his name, and then, as the roadblocks were cleared, Nehru became the PM.
Why did Gandhiji have a predilection for Nehru?
Gandhiji, it is said, preferred Nehru’s sophistication and modern outlook. It is said Patel was a lot orthodox compared to Nehru, and that point in time, it was Gandhiji’s explicit belief that India needed a man like Nehru.
There are other reports that Gandhiji trusted Patel more and if Nehru was not made the PM, it is believed that he would play spoilsport in India earning Her freedom.
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Last Updated 31, Oct 2019, 4:15 PM