“Had Vallabhbhai Patel been India’s first Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country would have been much better than what it is today,” Union minister of state for defence Rao Inderjit Singh said on Saturday at a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) function here to mark Patel’s 140th birth anniversary.
The minister accused the Congress of failing to preserve and propagate Patel’s vision of national unity. “Patel’s immense contribution to the freedom struggle and promoting national integration after independence earned him the sobriquet ‘Iron Man’ but his party didn’t give him a position he deserved. Patel was lost in the chapters of history,” he claimed, adding: “The Narendra Modi government’s initiative of building his statue in Gujarat is a tribute that should have come to him years ago.”
“It was credit to Patel that India could get Kashmir. If like others, he also would have listened to Nehru, we would have lost that, too. Out of the 15 states back then, 13 voted for Patel to be the PM; but on the one appeal of Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi), he let the charge come to Nehru. Patel was a true nationalist,” said Rao Inderjit, adding that “if in the coming 20 years we all stay united as preached by him, I don’t know about China but we can leave America behind indeed and the people who once ruled us would come to work with us”.