The Services of Vallabhbhai Patel

Speech by Jawaharlal Nehru while unveilling the statue of Vallabhbhai Patel, Godhra, 13 February 1949 A.I.R. tapes, N.M.M.L. (Original in Hindi)

My association with Sardar Patel dates back thirty years. It was not an ordinary acquaintance; we took up big tasks together, faced great dangers together during which we saw many ups and downs. You know that during the last thirty years our country has faced many ups and downs. Sometimes it seemed that the country was losing its strength and energy. But it again recuperated. During this period our country in certain matters saw many triumphs and successes but in certain matters it saw tragedies and failures also. When one goes through such experiences together with another person, both of them come to understand each other better.

Then for about three years Sardar Patel and I stayed together in the Ahmadnagar fort with some other friends and companions. For three years we were together seeing each other day and night. Now for the last two and a half years we have been associated in a different manner, in New Delhi, working in the Government of India. In this work also, almost everyday we meet each other and face big problems and solve them in cooperation with each other. You know the magnitude of the problems our nation has faced in these two and a half years. We had to face the storm raised in the Punjab and near about Delhi. So we have been through thick and thin together during these 30 years. When there is this kind of association it leads to deep understanding of each other and mutual closeness. How could it be possible otherwise ?

There is a wrong suggestion in some quarters that there is lack of understanding between me and Sardar Patel. During the last three years in Delhi, as I have told you, there is hardly a day or night when I did not take counsel from him.

So I am happy that you have called me here today and entrusted this job to me and asked me to unveil this bust.

Generally I do not like the idea of statues and memorials of our big leaders being erected. I have tried to discourage the building of Mahatma Gandhi’s statues also as far as possible. But despite my effort they continue to be erected. Not that I am against the building of statues and memorials but there are two reasons why I discourage this. One, that people think that by erecting statues of great men, they have done their duty towards them. This is not proper. Our duty towards them entails our following the path shown by them and the ideals set by them. Mahatmaji also used to say to me that he did not want any statues of his to be made. He reminded us that if we respected him we should follow his teachings and the path shown by him. That is real respect, and not erecting his statue and then forgetting him and working against his message and advice.

Secondly, the statues which are generally built are not good. That is, artistically they are not of good quality. But this is not so important. The main point is that for every nation, every country, it is proper that it should remember its great people. The future generations should also remember them. Because by remembering them we also remember some of their ideals, their times and their advice, and we do start giving some thought and consideration to them.

Sardar Patel, after all, is not of Gujarat alone; he belongs to the whole of India. He has drawn the map of free India. He has had a great hand in securing the independence of India and later contributed greatly in preserving it. Still there are many great tasks ahead. So the whole of India remembers him, but in Gujarat, where he was born and where he has gained respect because of his great works, it is fitting that you should have his statue. Therefore I am very happy to perform this auspicious task.

Source: SWJN, S2, V9, 523-524

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