July 12, 2011 12:31:48 AM
Rathin Das | Ahmedabad
The Congress had always sought to underplay the differences between Nehru and ‘Iron Man’ Sardar Patel whose legacy gradually diminished with increasing stranglehold of one family in the party since Independence.
But, excerpts from the diary of Sardar Patel’s daughter Maniben would not only confirm the differences but also are likely to ruffle the feathers of present day Congress leaders with embarrassing disclosures therein.
For many of the entries jotted down in Maniben’s diary, being published in full for the first time, would bring out unpleasant truths that may prove to be uncomfortable to the Congress leaders.
One of the Nehru-Sardar differences was regarding the renovation of the Babri Masjid at Government expense, a proposal the ‘Iron Man’ had turned down as free India’s first Home Minister.
The entry in Maniben’s diary on September 20, 1950 says that Sardar told Nehru that the Babri Masjid’s renovation was different from reconstruction of the Somnath Temple for which a trust was set up that raised nearly `30 lakh for the purpose. Government money was not spent on reconstruction of the Somnath Temple, Sardar told Nehru following which the Prime Minister kept quiet, Maniben’s diary notes on September 20, 1950.
As Sardar Patel’s wife Zaverba died very early, Maniben had taken up the multiple roles as daughter, secretary, washerwoman and nurse to the ‘Iron Man’ till his death on December 12, 1950. Since 1936, Maniben had started maintaining a diary in which she recorded her illustrious father’s daily events and comments.
The 24 volumes of Maniben’s diaries are safely kept at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial here, a heritage building whose renovation is currently underway. Ironically, the complete diary of Maniben is being published by the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Society whose chairman is a Congressman, Union Minister for Mines Dinsha Patel.
The diary contents would be first published in original Gujarati, the society’s secretary Prabhakar Khamar told The Pioneer. It would take about six months for them to come into print, he said, adding that later on the Hindi translation would also be brought out.
Khamar disclosed that Maniben’s diary deals with differences and controversies between top leaders of freedom struggle like Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and others.
“These differences did not come out into public then as all leaders had agreed with Gandhiji’s views as final,” said 80-year-old Prabhakar Khamar.
The contents of the diary which are going into print also throw some rare insight about other personalities’ comments on Nehru’s ‘secular’ image.
Nehru’s close friend Sriprakash told Sardar “there was no trace of Hindutva in Motilal Nehru. He was three-quarters Englishman and one quarter Muslim. How can you expect any Hindutva in his son?” Maniben’s diary notes on October 12, 1950.
Another entry, on September 13, 1950, quotes Ghanshyamdas Birla as saying “Nehru’s whole family would have embraced Islam is they had not come in contact with Gandhiji.”
With revelations like this, Maniben’s diary is sure to raise a storm once again regarding Nehru legacy.