Born: 31 October 1875
Passed Away: 15 December 1950
Patel was one of the great social leaders of India. He played a crucial
role during the freedom struggle of India and was instrumental in the
integration of over 500 princely states into the Indian Union. Despite
the choice of the people, on the request of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel
stepped down from the candidacy of Congress president. The election on
that occasion eventually meant for the election of the first Prime
Minister of independent India.
Vallabhbhai Patel was born on October 31, 1875 in Gujarat to Zaverbhai
and Ladbai. Vallabhbhai, His father had served in the army of the Queen
of Jhansi while his mother was a very spiritual man.
Starting his academic career in a Gujarati medium school Sardar
Vallabhbhai Patel and shifted to an English medium school. In 1897,
Vallabhbhai passed his high school examination and started preparing for
law examination. 1910, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel went to England to study
law. He completed his law studies in 1913 and came back to India and
started his law practice. For his Excellencies in Law, Vallabhbhai was
offered many lucrative posts by the British Government but he rejected
all. He was a staunch opponent of the British government and its laws
and therefore decided not to work for the British.
He later started practicing at Ahmedabad. After a meeting with Mahatma
Gandhi, at the Gujarat Club, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel got influenced by
Gandhi's words. Later, inspired by Gandhi's work and philosophy Patel
became a staunch follower of him.
Indian National Movement
In 1917, Sardar Vallabhbhai was elected as the Secretary of the Gujarat
Sabha. The next year, when there was a flood in Kaira, the British
insisted on collecting tax from the farmers. Sardar Vallabhbhai led a
massive "No Tax campaign" that urged the farmers not to pay
their land. The peaceful movement forced the British authority to return
then land taken away from the farmers His effort to bring together the
farmers of his area brought him the title of 'Sardar' to his name.
In 1928, the farmers of Bardoli faced a similar problem of "tax-hike".
After prolonged summons, when the farmers refused to pay the extra tax,
the government in retaliation seized their lands. Vallabhbhai Patel. The
agitation took on for more than six months and after a deal struck
between the government and farmer's representatives, the lands were
In 1930 Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was imprisoned for participating in
the famous Salt Satyagraha called by Mahatma Gandhi. His inspiring
speeches during the "Salt Movement" transformed the lives of
numerous people, who later played a major role in making the movement
Sardar Patel was freed in 1931 following an agreement signed between
Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India. The treaty was
popularly known as the Gandhi-Irwin pact. The same year, Patel was
elected as the president of Indian National Congress Party for its
In the Karachi session, the Indian National Congress Party committed
itself to the defence of fundamental rights and human rights and a dream
of a secular nation. An agreement regarding this was also sanctioned.
In 1934, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel led the all-India election campaign
for the Indian National Congress. Though he did not contest a seat for
himself, Sardar Patel helped his fellow party mates during the election.
Sardar Patel was annoyed at Jawaharlal Nehru for the latter's
declarations of the adoption of socialism in 1936. Patel also considered
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose a "keen of more power within the party.
Influence of Gandhi
senior leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari
and Maulana Azad criticized Mahatma Gandhi's concept that the civil
disobedience movement would compel the British to leave the nation,
Patel extended his support to Gandhi. Despite the unwillingness of the
Congress High Command, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
strongly forced the All India Congress Committee to ratify the civil
disobedience movement and launch it without delaying further. Acting
under the pressure, the All India Congress Committee sanctioned the
drive on 7 August 1942.
One important episode that could change the political lines of the
country had shaped up just a year of attaining independence. During the
election for the Congress presidency in 1946, thirteen of the sixteen
states proposed Sardar Patel's name for the post. It was a very crucial
election, as the elected president of the congress party would be later
considered as the first Prime Minister of independent India. Just a few
days, before the all important election, Mahatma Gandhi request Sardar
Patel to leave the candidacy and support Jawaharlal Nehru. Sardar Patel,
without pondering twice, stepped down.
Integration of princely states
At the time of independence, Indian territory was divided into three
parts. First, the territories under the direct control of the British
government, second were the territories over which the hereditary rulers
had suzerainty. The regions, which had been colonized by France and
Portugal, formed the last. India, without the integration of these
different territories under one roof, could not be considered as a
unified and total country. It was a stupendous task for the ruling
party, to persuade the rulers of these states to join. According to
British government, the province rulers had the liberty to choose how
they wanted to be ruled. They were given two choices. They could join
either of India and Pakistan or stay independently. The stance of the
British government had made the task much difficult for India. At this
point many leaders of the congress approached the rulers but they failed
to convince. At last, they all made a request Vallabhbhai Patel to think
some other options to bring the princely rulers under Indian control.
Sardar Patel eventually dealt with the tough-situation and came out
successfully. He had made secured their accession. Therefore, the state
of India we see today was a result of the efforts put in by Sardar
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's health declined in 1950. He, himself
realized that he was not going to live much longer. On 2 November his
health deteriorated further and was confined to bed. After suffering a
massive heart attack, on 15 December 1950, the great soul left the