16 January, 2021

What If Patel Was PM?

Would we have emerged as a religious-nationalist society? As India's first PM, Sardar Patel would have prompted more questions and provided few answers.

Hulton Archive
What If Patel Was PM?

Had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel become PM in 1947, he would have certainly left the country in great chaos at the time of his death—just three years later. Kashmir would have erupted by 1950, instead of smouldering till it caught fire in ’89. The nation’s secular fabric would have been ripped asunder in the 1950s itself, rather than in the ’80s. India’s relations with China would have deteriorated faster than they did. Nationalisation of key sectors would have happened sooner than in 1969. And a ‘nationalistic’ culture and education would have been the staple of post-Independence generations much earlier.

Before the Patel-baiter label is flung at us, a reminder that the ‘Iron Man’ was never in the race—once he had given his word to Gandhiji on not opposing the anointment of Jawaharlal Nehru. And he was definitely not against the Muslim community in general; even Gandhi admitted "it would be a travesty of truth to describe Sardar as anti-Muslim". Patel must also be acknowledged for several achievements,...



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