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December 2004 - January 2005
Remembering Sardar Patel
31st October is a very important day for most Indians, especially Gujaratis. We make sure that we are in London on that day. It is the birthday anniversary of Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, which is celebrated on a grand scale in London every year, organized by the Sardar Patel Memorial Society, normally at the prestigious venue of Kadwa Patidar Samaj Hall in Harrow.
But this year (2004)
we were expecting to celebrate this grand occasion at even more prestigous
location, at none other than India House, as Shri Ronan Sen, the
previous High Commissioner and Shri P.C. Haldar, Minister for Co-ordination
at the time, a true friend of the Indian community, promised the
members of the Sardar Patel Memorial Society (UK) that in future
Sardar’s Birth Celebration will be held at India House. It
was done openly in a speech at last year’s celebrations at
Kadwa Patidar Samaj hall, in the presence of some six hundred people.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, born in a tiny sleepy village, rose to become a right-hand man of Gandhiji and a frontline warrior, a freedom fighter of the Quit India Movement, the freedom struggle that ultimately freed Bharat from the clutches of the British Raj and gave Bharat her independence in 1947.
Sardar’s great achievement of the political integration of some 665 princely Indian states into the Indian Union, welding India into the proud and a powerful nation that she is today has been almost ignored by successive Congress governments.
In fact Sardar’s immense contribution was only recognised when the Congress party was liberated from the clutches of the Nehru dynasty. Shri P. V. Narsimaha Rao awarded the title of Bharat Ratna to Sardar posthumously in 1991, some 40 years after the death of Sardar, which was in the possession of his grandson Bipinbhai Patel who recently presented it to the Sardar Memorial Trust museum in Gandhinagar.
I would like to urge the trustees of Sardar Patel Memorial Trust to start a fund in this country and to acquire and refurbish Sardar’s bungalow in New Delhi to rival that of Nehru and to create a grand memorial monument, a national treasure house in Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar, where Sardar’s meagre but valuable belongings, such as his spinning wheel or Charka, shawl, tea set presented to him by Lord Mountbatten, his writing desk and chair, diaries, letters and photographs should be displayed for the public to view. Such a building should be surrounded by a vast garden and lakes, a floating restaurant and butterfly house, a bird aviary, in the surrounding ground for the public to enjoy, a picnic area and a funfair for the children and a rural heaven for the wildlife.
With BJP government in Gujarat, it is time to give Sardar his rightful place in the history books. I understand that the Sardar Patel Trust, under the presidency of Shri Ashok Patel, has already been created in Gandhinagar to perpetuate the memory of the late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the late Veer Vithalbhai Patel. We the NRI can provide the funds and the administration to assist such a project. I would be the first to make a small donation if someone takes the initiative to start such a fund.While celebrating Sardar’s 129th birthday anniversary, Modiji said that “To my mind, even Gandhiji would have been incomplete without Sardar at his side.” That is the best compliment one can give to Sardar.
The 129th birthday anniversary of the Sardar was celebrated at the National Association of Patidar Samaj Hall in Tooting. HE Mr. Kamlesh Sharma garlanded a large portrait of Sardar Patel and Mr M. T. Patel lighted the Deep. National songs were sung by Maya Panchal and Surendra Chudasama. Mr Kanoobhai Desai welcomed the guests. Praveen Amin briefly described the achievements of the Sardar. Tributes were paid by the High Commissioner who said that the Sardar had the unique skill of negotiation which forged the unity of India.