New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the latest episode of his radio programme Mann Ki Baat, spoke about Sardar Patel and how he unified India. Interestingly, he stressed on an interview of Field Marshal SHFJ ‘Sam’ Manekshaw to highlight the importance and significance of Patel. So what did Manekshaw say in that interview about Patel?

In an interview to Rediff, Manekshaw is quoted to have said, “Almost every morning the Sardar would send for V P, H M Patel and myself. While Maniben (Patel's daughter and de facto secretary) would sit cross-legged with a Parker fountain pen taking notes, Patel would say, 'V P, I want Baroda. Take him with you.' I was the bogeyman. So I got to know the Sardar very well.” 

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“At the morning meeting, he handed over the (Accession) thing. Mountbatten turned around and said, ' come on Manekji (He called me Manekji instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?' I gave him the military situation and told him that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn't fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport”, recounted Manekshaw about possible aggression. 

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But what he said next contrast the two personalities - Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel. What Manekshaw said in that interview shows the utopian bubble Nehru was living in, even as Patel was not ready to lose a second to unify scattered India. “As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, 'Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away'. He (Nehru) said,' Of course, I want Kashmir (emphasis in original). Then he (Patel) said 'Please give your orders'. And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, 'You have got your orders’”, said India’s most iconic officer. 

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This fact was recognised long ago by the international press too, when Time magazine in its January 27, 1947, edition had Patel on its coverage with the headline, ‘India’s Vallabbhai Patel: A bald dilemma and sharp right horn’. MyNation went through the edition that had a map of India printed on page 27, which gives a sense of how massive, diverse and scattered India was. And if anyone could stick it together, it was Patel who has been referred to as ‘The Boss’ by Time.

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Time said, “Freedom for India does not affect the princely states, where 93 million (25%) Indians live. These are more or less despotically ruled by an anachronistic group of princes…” What Patel did was get those 93 million or 25% of the populace in India. 

Also read: PM Modi in Mann ki Baat: Time magazine had written before Independence that only Sardar Patel could unite nation

PM Modi in Mann Ki Baat appealed to people to take part in the ‘Run for Unity’ on October 31 to mark Patel’s birth anniversary.

PM Modi said, ''Sardar Patel's Jayanti this year will be even more special as on this day, we'll pay him true homage by dedicating 'Statue of Unity' to the nation. The statue is twice that of America's renowned 'Statue of Liberty'.”