Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who is referred as the father of the nation was born on 2nd October 1869 and we refer to the day as a day to reminisce the great deeds of him. He was known for his unique way of fighting the freedom struggle, a path of ahimsa which requires enormous amounts of patience and self respect. Many revolutionaries opposed his ideologies of ahimsa; whle some collaborated with him to create an independent India. One such figure who was indeed patriotically ruthless and strived for freedom alongside Bapu was Sardar Vallahbhai Patel- The Iron Man of the nation.
When Patel First Met Gandhi
It was June 1916 when Vallabhbhai Patel was playing bridge and smoking cigars – his favorite pastime at that time – at the Barrister’s club along with his friend Chimanlal Thakore, when somebody invited the members of the club to meet and listen to one M. K. Gandhi who had come to expound his ideas about an Ashram and a national school. As Patel went on with his game, he remarked, “I have been told he (Gandhi) comes from South Africa. Honestly I think he is a crank, and as you know, I have no use for such people.” Gandhiji talked – and Patel smoked.
But slowly Patel got interested as he realized that “this man was not a mere windbag – he was out for action.” Patel himself says that in those early days “I was not concerned with his principles or with himsa and ahimsa. All that mattered to me was that he was sincere; that he had dedicated his whole life, and all he had, to the cause he served, that he was possessed with a desire to free his country from bondage, and that he knew his job thoroughly. I wanted nothing more.” and that’s how the relationship went on to become a revolutionary bond which changed the fate of a country.
Bapu And Sardar Had A Unique Friendship
The bond which Bapu and sardar shared was a unique bond, where Gandhi believed in Ahimsa whereas Patel was a man who loved seeking revenge in the same way the opposition did. He revolted against all adversities in a similar way, whether there was a need to take a weapon or barehanded.
Gandhi and Patel made a strong team as the Chairman and Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha and they undertook many programs for the welfare of the masses in Gujarat – whether it was to provide relief to the plague affected, or abolition of forced labour or in the no-tax campaign when crops were destroyed in Kaira District. It was at this point that Vallabhbhai gave up his European dress for the dhoti/ kurta outfit and toured the villages of Kaira District along with Gandhiji.
Sardar’s Approach Was Exactly Opposite From Gandhi
Sardar Vallahbhai Patel was always accused of being a “yes” man of Gandhi but he differed from his Guru in approach. He was earthy and practical and a strict disciplinarian. He never expected the impossible from his people. He differed from Gandhiji in his views on industrialisation in that he did not see it as a harbinger of destruction in the same way that Gandhi did. He also knew that Industrialists and private enterprise must co-exist. Today we reap the fruit of peace and independence laid out by these revolutionaries and we must at least spend a minute to recall our beloved Bapu on this sacred day!