Speech by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the First Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture, in New Delhi on October 31, 2017.

New Delhi | October 31, 2017

आज हम भारत के लौह पुरुष, आज़ाद भारत के प्रथम उपप्रधान मंत्री और गृह मंत्री सरदार वल्लभ भाई पटेल की जयंती मना रहे हैं। यह एक महोत्सव है। इस महान पुरुष को याद करने से, उनके वचन और उपलब्धियों का स्मरण करके हमे अमित उत्साह, प्रेरणा और कार्योन्मुख आत्मविश्वास मिल जाते हैं।

इस प्रेरण स्रोत को नमन करने से उनके जीवन के किस्सों का मनन करने से हमारे जनमानस में एकता, एकाग्रता, सतर्कता, भारतीयता की भावनायें उभर आती हैं।

सरदार पटेल जी के विचार हम सब के लिए आदर्शपूर्ण हैं। उन्होंने कहा था कि “कठिन समय में कायर बहाना ढूंढते हैं, बहादुर व्यक्ति रास्ता खोजते हैं।” सरदार पटेल की बहादुरी हमें खेडा संघर्ष में, बारड़ोली के सशक्त सत्याग्रह में, देसी रियासतों को भारत सरकार में मिलाने में देख सकते हैं। प्रमुख कवि हरिवशंराय बच्चन जी ने 1950 में उनके बारे में लिखा था

कठोर नग्न सत्य बोलता।
पटेल हिंद की नीडर जबान है।

कवि उमाशंकर जोशी ने भी कहा था “His words are actions.” निर्भयता ही उनका कवच था। महात्मा जी से प्रेरित सेनानी सरदार का आदर्श थे, अहिंसा, कुशलता, कर्मठता, क्षमता और दक्षता।

उनका प्रत्येक कार्य इन मूल्यों के प्रतिबिंब थे। कठिन से कठिन कार्य को उन्होंने बड़ी कुशलता से संपन्न करके दक्षता का परिचय दिया था। हाथ में हथौडा, हृदय में विश्वास , मन में अटूट संकल्प और वचन में मर्यादा को हम स्पष्ट रूप से देख सकते हैं। वे कहते थे - बोलने में मर्यादा मत छोडना, गालियाँ देना तो कायरों का काम है। उनके अनमोल वाक्य आज के देशवासियों के सामने अनुसरणीय आदर्श हैं।

सरदार पटेल जी का महान व्यक्तित्व, आदर्शपूर्ण कृतित्व, उन्नत विचारधारा हमारे देश की अमूल्य, अतुलित धरोहर है। इस धरोहर के आधार पर हमें नए भारत को निर्मित करना है। इन आधारभूत मूल्यों की नींव पर एकात्म, समरस, सक्षम, सशक्त, समृद्व भारत का निर्माण करना है।

As we gather here to pay tributes to the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, we must all be grateful to his vision, determination, deftness and pragmatism in preventing the balkanization of the country and achieving the herculean task of politically integrating more than 560 princely States with the Union of India.

He was a true nationalist, who placed the interests of the country above everything else. Nothing else except the country mattered most to him. It would be apt to describe him as the unifier of India and what was achieved by him during the turbulent days of partition remains unparalleled in modern history.

He coaxed and persuaded rulers of princely States to merge with Indian Union and acted decisively by using force where it was required as in the case of Hyderabad when the Nizam not only nurtured ambitions to remain independent but also toyed with the idea of joining Pakistan. Codenamed ‘Operation Polo’, the swift action to liberate and integrate Hyderabad State with the rest of India took just four days and concluded on September 17, 1948.

He was a towering personality with a heart of gold and remained unwavering in his loyalty to his mentor and the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, although the latter preferred Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Patel to be the Congress President in 1946 and paved the way for him to become the country’s first Prime Minister.

Without any ill-will, Patel withdrew his nomination from the race for the president’s post in favour of Pandit Nehru on the advice of Gandhiji. The following statement exemplifies the greatness of Sardar Patel and his national fervor. “We both have been lifelong comrades in a common cause. The paramount interests of our country and our mutual love and regard, transcending such differences of outlook and temperaments as existed, have held us together.”

I am mentioning that only to highlight the great qualities of Patel—loyalty to the leader, love for the motherland, unshakeable commitment to nationalism and complete steadfastness in completing the integration of diverse princely States with the Union of India without bothering about post or position.

He was a man of principles and character. His was a monumental contribution in shaping the destiny of modern India and the country will remain ever grateful to him for ensuring its unity and integrity.

Here, I would like to recall what Maulana Azad had stated on Patel: “He made his choice out of the two courses that come before a man, namely would he live for his country or for himself. Sardar chose his country”.

Praising the monumental contribution of Sardar Patel in unifying India, Pandit Nehru said: “History will record it in many pages and call him the builder and consolidator of the new India”.

Gandhiji and Sardar Patel shared a unique relationship and at times differed on certain issues. In fact, Gandhiji lauded him for remaining firm on his convictions and said “All honour to Sardar for holding fast to his convictions”.

In his address at the Benaras Hindu University following Gandhiji’s assassination, Patel said: “I claim to be nothing more than an obedient soldier of him like the millions who obeyed his call. There was a time when everyone used to call me his blind follower. But, both he and I knew that I followed him because our convictions tallied”.

There are many interesting facets to Sardar’s life - he was a successful lawyer, a people’s leader, most dependable organizational man, an administrator par excellence, humane, compassionate and of course a nationalist above all.

It is unfortunate that even 70 years after attaining Independence, various fissiparous tendencies are raising their ugly heads and attempts are being made to threaten the unity and integrity of the country.

No Indian should fall prey to the hideous design of vested interests and anti-India proponents in fomenting trouble and weakening the unity and integrity of the country. India’s progress in various fields and its march as one of the major economies should not be allowed to be obstructed by anybody and every Indian should strive to uphold and strengthen country’s unity and integrity.