Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, unlike “his imitators and those who would reclaim his legacy”, worked tirelessly and successfully for communal harmony in the midst of the horrors of partition, National Security Advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon said Tuesday.
Delivering the annual Sardar Patel memorial lecture organised by All India Radio, he recalled that Patel spoke extempore in Amritsar in September 1947 asking people to restore calm and prevent revenge killing of Muslims trying to go to Pakistan. “Following his dialogue with community leaders and the speech, no further attacks occurred on Muslim refugees in Amritsar,” he said. “Unlike present-day Kautilyas and Machiavellis trying to claim him as their own, Patel’s was realism tempered by principle and integrity,” the NSA said.
What Gandhiji was for our moral compass, Patel was for our national security calculus, he said.
“I still hope those who are so quick to claim Patel’s mantle but who fail to do him justice and actually diminish and distort him will learn this lesson,” he said.
Menon also took a swipe at the group of strategic affairs experts who asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to talk to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif.
“When 40 self-styled experts and some political groups say do not talk to Pakistan until ideal conditions exist and all terrorism stops, it betrays a lack of self-confidence,” he said.
“That is precisely what terrorists and their sponsors in the Pakistani establishment want, for us not to talk to those in Pakistan who might differ from them. Our Pakistan policy still faces the dilemmas that Patel’s generation faced: how to prevent enemies of India from having their way. Patel’s answer was clear...fight your enemies at a time and place of your choosing but do not make innocents, the people, victims of your policy,” Menon said.
He said that is what the governments under A B Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh had done.
“Not talking does not change the behaviour of our enemies. In fact, it hands them a success that encourages them. At the very least, talking to the saner elements in Pakistan could encourage them to stand for the right policies and could create confusion