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.”

A page from V.P. Menon’s book, “The Story of the Integration of the Indian States”, available online.

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.

A citation from “Demystifying Kashmir”, by Navnita Chadha Behera, available on Google Books.

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.

Anita Joshua, a journalist, posted a picture of a page from Rajmohan Gandhi’s Patel: A life, which notes Patel’s “lukewarmness” towards Kashmir.

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.

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  1. Sardar Patel is the statesman who integrated the princely states, gave us the map of India. He had sound instincts, a deep pragmatism. For seventy years, the shadow of the chinaar tree has lain heavy over the subcontinent, locking its two principal states into frozen hostility.

  2. Modi instead should have said that had Patel been at the helm, a right decession like not to include kashmir would have been taken.

  3. Whatever may be in History, Once instrument of accession was signed as per rules, Kashmir was part of India and we shall defend it with all our might and we need to make POK also part of India. There are no ifs and buts on this. There cannot be other questions.

  4. It is most unfair to accuse Sardar Patel of being lukewarm about J & K’s integration with the rest of India. It is inconceivable that a man who did so much to get the princely states to fall in line would not have had J & K, which constitutes the head of the country, on his to-do list. Most writings are based on bazar gossip. As for Menon , the less said the better.


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