A Peep into Unknown Indian History
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister
of India, whose 137th birth anniversary is on October 31, was insulted,
humiliated and disgraced by the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal
Nehru, during a Cabinet meeting. "You are a complete communalist and I'll
never be a party to your suggestions and proposals," Nehru shouted at Patel
during a crucial Cabinet meeting to discuss the liberation of Hyderabad by
the Army from the tyranny of the Razakkars, the then Nizam's private army.
"A shocked Sardar Patel collected his papers from the table and slowly
walked out of the Cabinet room. That was the last time Patel attended a
Cabinet meeting. He also stopped speaking to Nehru since then," writes MKK
Nair, a 1947 batch IAS officer, in his memoirs "With No Ill Feeling to
Anybody". Nair had close ties with both Sardar and VP Menon, his Man Friday.
Though Nair has not written the exact date of the above mentioned Cabinet
meeting, it could have happened during the weeks prior to the liberation of
Hyderabad by the Indian Army.
Operation Polo, the mission to liberate Hyderabad from the Nizam, began on September 13, 1948 and culminated on September 18. While Sardar Patel wanted direct military action to liberate
Hyderabad from the rape and mayhem perpetrated by the 2,00,000 Razakars, Nehru preferred the United Nations route (An @$#% A_ _).
Nair writes that Nehru's personal hatred for Sardar Patel came out in the
open on December 15, 1950, the day the Sardar breathed his last in Bombay
"Immediately after he got the news about Sardar Patel's death, Nehru sent
two notes to the Ministry of States. The notes reached VP Menon, the then
Secretary to the Ministry. In one of the notes, Nehru had asked Menon to
send the official Cadillac car used by Sardar Patel to the former's
The second note was even more shocking. Nehru wanted government secretaries
desirous of attending Sardar Patel's last rites to do so at their own
"But Menon convened a meeting of all secretaries and asked them to furnish
the names of those who want to attend the last rites of Patel. He did not
mention anything about the note sent by Nehru. Menon paid the entire cost of
the air tickets for those secretaries who expressed their wish to attend
Sardar's last journey. This further infuriated Nehru," Nair has written
about his memoirs in the corridors of power in New Delhi.
Nair's friendship with Patel began during the former's posting in Hyderabad
as a civilian officer of the Army. "I was a bachelor and my guest house was
a rendezvous of all those in the inner circle of the then Nizam of
Hyderabad. Every night they arrived with bundles of currency notes. We
gambled and played flash and the stakes were high. During the game I served
them the finest Scotch. After a couple of drinks, the princes and the junior
Nawabs would open their minds and reveal the secret action plans being drawn
out in the Nizam's palace.
Once intoxicated, they would tell me about the plans to merge Hyderabad with Pakistan after independence. This was information that no one outside the Nawab's close family members and the
British secret service were privy to. But I ensured that this information reached directly to Sardar Patel and thus grew our relationship," writes Nair.
The relation between Nair and Sardar Patel was such that the former's
director general in the ministry told him once: "Sardar Patel keeps an open
house for you." Nair, who worked in various ministries during his
three-decade long civil service career, writes that the formation of North
East Frontier Service under the Ministry of External Affairs by Nehru and
the removal of the affairs of the Jammu & Kashmir from the Ministry of Home
Affairs are the major reasons behind the turmoil in both the regions.
"This was done by Nehru to curtail the wings of Sardar Patel," Nair has
written. Though Sardar Patel was known as a no-nonsense man devoid of any
sense of humour, Nair has written about lighter moments featuring him. The
one centres around VP Menon with whom Patel had a special relation. Menon
had to face ire of Nesamani Nadar, a Congress MP from Kanyakumari, during
his visit to Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the reorganisation of
States. Nadar barged into Menon's suite in the State Gust House and shouted
at him for not obeying his diktats. Menon, who was enjoying his quota of
sun-downer, asked Nadar to get out of his room. A furious Nadar sent a
six-page letter to Sardar Patel trading all kinds of charges against Menon.
"He was fully drunk when I went to meet him in the evening and he abused me
using the filthiest of languages," complained Nadar in his letter.
Sardar Patel, who read the letter in full asked his secretary V Shankar, an
ICS officer: "Shankar, does VP take drinks?" Shankar, who was embarrassed by
the question, had to spill the beans. "Sir, Menon takes a couple of drinks
in the evening," he said. Sardar was curious to know what was Menon's
favourite drink. Shankar replied that Menon preferred only Scotch. "Shankar,
you instruct all government secretaries to take Scotch in the evening,"
Sardar told Shankar. Nair writes that this anecdote was a rave in the Delhi
evenings for a number of years!
Balraj Krishna (92), who authored Sardar's biography, told The Pioneer that
Nehru was opposed to Babu Rajendra Prasad, the then President, travelling to
Bombay to pay his last respects to Patel. "But Prasad insisted and made it
to Bombay," said Krishna. MV Kamath, senior journalist, said though Nehru
too attended the funeral of Patel, it was C Rajagopalachari, who delivered
the funeral oration.
Prof MGS Narayanan, former chairman of Indian Council of Historical
Research, said there was no reason to disbelieve what Nair has written.
"But his memoirs did not get the due recognition it deserved. It is a
historical chronicle of pre-and post independent India," he said. IF only
Sardar had become PM, as per the votes of CWC, and Gandhi had not dissuaded
him, in favour of a sulking Nehru..many of the country's problems would
never have seen the day.....!!