Modi said that had Patel become prime minister all of Kashmir might have been part of India. Many say historical accounts don’t support this claim.
New Delhi: In his 90 minute speech in the Lok Sabha Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi insinuated that things might have been different with Kashmir had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel become the Prime Minister.
“If Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have been the first prime minister of the country, all of Kashmir would have been ours,” he said.
But several historical accounts note Patel’s distinct lack of enthusiasm towards retaining Kashmir. And since the Prime Minister’s speech, historians and experts have pointed out that Patel was less enthusiastic about ensuring Kashmir’s accession to India.
V.P. Menon, who worked closely with Patel as secretary of the Ministry of the States and played an important role during India’s partition, authored three books on the integration of the Indian states and the subsequent transfer of power.
In ‘The Story of the Integration of Indian States’, he records a conversation between Lord Mountbatten and Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, in which Mountbatten told the maharaja that “if he acceded to Pakistan, India would not take it amiss and that he had a firm assurance on this from Sardar Patel himself.”
In a series of tweets, security analyst and strategic affairs commentator Srinath Raghavan wrote that if Patel had become PM “entire Kashmir might have been theirs”.
The book ‘The Emergence of Pakistan’ by Chaudhri Muhammad Ali also notes an exchange between Patel and Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.
“Why do you compare Junagadh with Kashmir? Talk of Hyderabad and Kashmir and we could reach an agreement,” Patel said.
Former BJP politician, Sudheendra Kulkarni, also tweeted a picture from TCA Raghavan’s book, The People Next Door, which states that Nehru and Patel had “little enthusiasm” for deploying more forces to get control over all of Kashmir in 1948.
2. PM #Modi needs education.
Ref: Latest book by TCA Raghavan, India's ex-Amb to Islamabad. Page. 9 pic.twitter.com/KgWNQENlva
— Sudheendra Kulkarni (@SudheenKulkarni) February 7, 2018
Anita Joshua, a journalist, posted a picture of a page from Rajmohan Gandhi’s Patel: A life, which notes Patel’s “lukewarmness” towards Kashmir.
One of the most authoritative books on Sardar Patel has been written by Rajmohan Gandhi & he cites how Patel was initially OK with Kashmir going to Pakistan till Junagadh decided to accede also. From 'Patel: A Life'. pic.twitter.com/MRxnzvZxay
— Anita Joshua (@anitajoshua) February 7, 2018
In his book ‘Beyond the Lines: An Autobiography’, journalist Kuldip Nayar also wrote that Patel once went so far as to say, “We should not get mixed up with Kashmir. We already have too much on our plate.”
Nayar wrote that Patel said this when Delhi received Maharaja Hari Singh’s message that he wanted to accede to India in return for the Indian Armed Forces’ help against Pakistan. Hari Singh executed the Instrument of Accession the next day on 26 October 1947.