Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Recently, death anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was celebrated.
• Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel accepted Mahatma Gandhi's leadership, having been tremendously impressed by the fearless lead that Mahatma Gandhi gave to right public wrongs. In 1917 he was elected for the first time as the Sanitation Commissioner of Ahmedabad.
• From 1924 to 1928 he was Chairman of the Municipal Committee. The years of his association with the Municipal administration were marked by much meaningful work for the improvement of civic life.
• There were also calamities like plague in 1917 and famine in 1918, and on both occasions Vallabhbhai did important work to relieve distress. In 1917 he was elected Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, a political body which was of great assistance to Gandhiji in his campaigns.
• The association with Mahatma Gandhi became closer during the Kheda Satyagraha in 1918, which was launched to secure exemption from payment of the land revenue assessment since the crops had failed. It took three months of intense campaigning that was marked by arrests, seizures of goods, chattels, livestock and much official brutality before relief was secured from an unwilling Colonial Government.
• During Khilafat Movement, Vallabhbhai left his practice for good and gave himself up wholly to political and constructive work, touring villages, addressing meetings, organizing picketing of foreign cloth shops and liquor shops.
• The Bardoli Satyagraha- It was against the Government's decision to increase the assessment of land revenue from Bardoli taluka by 22 per cent and in some villages by as much as 50 to 60 per cent. Having failed to secure redress by other means, the agriculturists of the taluka decided at a Conference on February 12, 1928, to withhold payment of land revenue under the leadership of Vallabhbhai Patel. The Government had to ultimately bow before popular resolve and an inquiry was instituted to find out to what extent the increase was justified and the realization of the increased revenue was postponed. It was a triumph not only of the 80,000 peasants of Bardoli but more particularly of Vallabhbhai personally; he was given the title of "Sardar" by the nation.
• The boycott of the Simon Commission was followed by the launching of the famous Salt Satyagraha by Gandhiji. Vallabhbhai Patel, though he had not committed any breach of the Salt Law, was the first of the national leaders to be arrested.
• In March 1931 Vallabhbhai presided over the 46th session of the Indian National Congress which was called upon to ratify the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, which had just then been concluded.
• When India attained Independence, he became the Deputy Prime Minister and was responsible for the Home, States and the Information and Broadcasting portfolios.
• It was in this capacity that he was called upon to tackle the most intricate and baffling problem of the States' integration into the Union of India. And it is here that his tact, his powers of persuasion and his statesmanship came into full play. The integration of the States could certainly be termed as the crowning achievement of Vallabhbhai Patel's life.
• He sorted out the problems of partition, restored law and order and dealt with the rehabilitation of thousands of refugees with great courage and foresight.
• He re-organised our Services which had become depleted with the departure of the British and formed a new Indian Administrative Service, to provide a stable administrative base to our new democracy.