Nehru and Sardar Patel were comrades in arms, Mr Amit Shah; historical documents prove it

Speaking on resolution for extension of President’s rule in Kashmir, things Amit Shah said are neither true nor new. They have been repeated ad nauseam by BJP and RSS leaders for the last 70 years

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI

Arun Sharma

Speaking on the resolution for extension of President’s rule in the Lok Sabha last month, Home Minister Amit Shah alleged that Nehru did not take Sardar Patel into confidence while dealing with the Kashmir issue. Amit Shah also said some other things which are not true and betray a lack of appreciation of the circumstances in which Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India was accomplished by India.

In a way, the things Amit Shah said are not new. They have been repeated ad nauseam by BJP and RSS leaders for the last seventy years. Too simplistic and naive, they involve a lot of question begging and amount to falsification of history.

Nevertheless, these arguments or rather insinuations have been successful in moulding the opinion of many against Nehru. It is considered settled that Nehru was responsible for the Kashmir ‘problem’. This charge against Nehru of ignoring Sardar Patel is part of the larger scheme of things to tarnish Nehru’s image.

I believe those who claim to uphold the ideals of Nehru and wish to keep his legacy alive have not effectively countered and refuted the allegations that are lamely made against him. I therefore consider it necessary to put the record straight about Nehru allegedly not taking Sardar Patel into confidence on Kashmir’s accession to India.

It is not true that Nehru did not take Sardar Patel into confidence while dealing with the accession of Kashmir. In fact it cannot be true. Sardar Patel was the country’s Home Minister and it is inconceivable that he was not involved in the decisions on Kashmir. Not only Sardar Patel but the entire Cabinet Defence Committee was involved in the deliberations.

Historians refute Amit Shah’s claim. In his eruditely researched book A Mission in Kashmir, Andrew Whitehead traces the sequence of events of the four days (23 October 1947 to 27 October 1947) which led to the signing of instrument of accession by Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Kashmir and eventual airlifting of Indian troops to Srinagar in the morning of 27 October 1947. The following events recorded by the author in chapter 6 of the book make it amply clear that Sardar Patel was involved at every stage of the negotiations. It would be more accurate to say that Nehru, Patel and other members of the Defence Committee jointly took all decisions. But Nehru being prime minister undoubtedly played pivotal role.

  • Mehr Chand Mahajan, prime minister of Maharaja Hari Singh records in his memoirs that the latter sent RL Batra, a senior officer of the State with the offer of accession and personal letters of the maharaja to both Nehru and Patel on 23 October 23, 1947.
  • The day after the receipt of Maharaja’s offer, Nehru, after his broadcast to the nation called a meeting of the Defence Committee for the next morning in which Sardar Patel was present.
  • Subsequent actions like the decision to send VP Menon, Secretary of States ministry to obtain the Maharaja’s signature on the instrument of accession and direction to the states ministry to prepare the document of accession were taken by the Defence Committee in which Sardar Patel was actively involved.
  • The author quotes from VP Menon’s book Integration of Indian States where Menon records that when he landed back in Delhi after obtaining the Maharaja’s signatures on the instrument of accession, Sardar Patel was waiting at the aerodrome from where they both went straight to the Defence Committee.
  • Menon later that day also took Mehr Chand Mahajan to see both Nehru and Patel.

Does this leave any doubt that Nehru and Sardar Patel stood shoulder to shoulder for achieving the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India?

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