| Advani at the function in Karamsad on Friday. (PTI)
Karamsad, Oct. 31: L.K. Advani picked Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary to again go hammer and tongs at the Congress, saying the Nehru family had lionised all the credit for winning India its independence and deliberately downplayed the role of Sardar Patel.
Speaking at a function to mark the Iron Man’s birth anniversary, Advani — widely called the second Sardar Patel — said no matter what the Congress portrayed, the nation did not accept that only one family was behind such a big feat.
“The role of other leaders like Sardar Patel was deliberately underplayed as if there was only one family. But they (Congress) must realise that the nation does not accept it,” he said at the function where the Bharat Ratna conferred on the leader over four decades after his death was handed to the Sardar Patel Trust.
Advani refused comment on why the award had been held back till 1991. “There were lakhs of people who contributed to the freedom movement, but unfortunately it is believed only one family fought for India’s freedom.
“It is really sad that Sardar Patel was not given due respect and his contribution was not recognised,” he said.
Lauding Sardar Patel’s role in the merger of over 500 princely states after Partition, Advani said his contribution was unparalleled. “Some people compare him with Bismarck but I would say his contribution in bringing about order in that chaotic situation is unparalleled.
“If there was no Sardar Patel, this country would have disintegrated,” he declared.
Chhote Sardar Narendra Modi, too, chipped in, grabbing the chance to pour venom on the Congress for “sidelining visionary leaders like Sardar Patel”.
“It is really ironical that Rajiv Gandhi was conferred the Bharat Ratna before Sardar Patel. A movement had to be launched to get the Bharat Ratna to Sardar Patel,” he said.
Modi said the greatest tribute to Sardar Patel was that even 50 years after his death, the common man felt his presence. While some wished there was a leader like Sardar Patel today, others wondered what would have happened had he become the first Prime Minister.
“To me, this is the greatest tribute to Sardar Patel,” said the Gujarat chief minister, who had launched the third phase of his gaurav yatra from here last year.
Modi praised Sardar Patel’s family saying he was yet to hear of anyone seeking political positions or favour. On the other hand, even the fourth generation of Nehrus was lining up for certain posts, he alleged.
Sardar Patel’s grandson, Bipinbhai Patel, handed a charkha, a shawl and a tea set belonging to the leader to the trust. The trust was set up 1975 in memory of Sardar Patel and his brother, Veer Vithalbhai Patel.