Remembering Sardar Patel

Prabhat Kishore
Contd from previous issue
Overall Command
After becoming the defacto Prime Minister, Nehru gave up the Congress presidentship in October, 1946. Patel wanted Kripalani to succeed him. But as Kripalani found that the Government did not consult him on any matter, he resigned. Gandhi then wanted that Jai Prakash Narayan or Narendra Dev, both of whom were Congress socialist leaders, should succeed Kripalani. But Patel wanted Rajendra Prasad to be the Congress president. Prasad took over the charge from Kripalani. In December 1946 Nehru wanted N Gopalswami Aiyangar to be the president of the Constituent Assembly, but instead had to agree to Patel’s choice Dr Rajendra Prasad.
On the question of nominating the first President of Indian Republic, Patel gave his blessing to Rajendra Prasad for the post; but Nehru, was of view that C Rajagopalachari (the then Governor General) should be given the responsibility. Ultimately, Rajendra Prasad became the first President of Indian Republic on 26th  January 1950.
Nehru was not quite happy with the retention of crucial Home portfolio by Patel. But even from the Interim Government time, Patel insisted on keeping it despite considerable pressure from the Viceroy Mountbatten with Nehru's apparent concurrence. There were great ideological rifts between right-leaning Patel and left-leaning Nehru on various policies such as, economic, industrial, educational, agriculture, border security issues and others. But despite being the Deputy Prime Minister, Patel had not only the control on the party organisation but also over the Government. Ministers like NV Gadgil, RR Diwakar, RK Shanmukham Chetty, CH Bhabha and JD Daulatram were staunch supporters of Patel, whereas SP Mukherjee, Jagjivan Ram and Baldev Singh were also inclined towards him.
Thus, despite being debarred from leadership, Patel and his supporters always demonstrated their edge not only over Nehru but even over Gandhi in Party affairs. In addition to showing Patel’s superior strength in the party, the outcome of the Presidential election had another ominous implication.
(To be contd)