Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the prominent Indian barristers, politicians and leading figures of the country. He rose to prominence at the time of India’s freedom movement. After independence in 1947, he served as Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister, Information Minister and Minister of State of India. He was indeed one of the founding leaders of the Republic of India and was instrumental in keeping the nation united. This uncompromising commitment of Vallabhbhai Patel to national integration earned him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India.”
The primary education of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was completed in Karamasad and the higher education in Petlad. He passed the class 10 Board exam at the age of 22 years which was a bit unusual. He went to London in 1910 for further studies. The 36-month course of advocacy was completed by him in just 30 months. In 1913, he came back to India and got settled in Ahmadabad. After his return from abroad, he became a barrister in criminal law at Ahmadabad bar.
Sardar Patel served as the first municipal commissioner of Ahmadabad from 1917 to 1924 and in 1924 he became the president of Municipality. He served as the president from 1924 to 1928.
His movement to help the farmers and zamindars of Kairana (Gujarat) against the decision of the Bombay Govt to retrieve the tax even after the unfavourable crop season made him a prominent figure in 1918. The agitation of zamindars of Bardoli against the increased taxes was led successfully by Sardar Patel in the year 1928. After this movement, he was recognized as “Sardar” which means “leader”.
Sardar Patel was sentenced to imprisonment for three months at the time of 1930 Salt Satyagraha. The Karachi session of the Indian National Congress was presided over by Sardar Patel in 1931. He took part in Mahatma Gandhi’s movement of disobedience and was arrested by the British Police in 1940. He was imprisoned at that time for a period of nine months. He lost almost 20 pounds of weight while serving his term in jail.
Sardar Patel was arrested for the third time at the time of Quit India Movement (1942) and his period of imprisonment was 1942 to 1945 at the fort in Ahmednagar. The Congress Party was led by him in 1937 elections and he was one of the prominent contenders for the post of Congress President in 1937. However, he withdrew his nomination and was replaced by Jawaharlal Nehru upon receiving Gandhiji’s advice.
After the above incident, the British Govt invited Nehru for the formation of Interim Govt. Perhaps Sardar Patel would be Prime Minister of India if he was elected as the President of Congress instead of Nehru.
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel is one of the most vital names in India’s struggle for Independence. On 31st October 2018, his birth anniversary, the present Indian government unveiled the world’s tallest statue named ‘Statue of Unity’ in his memory. The statue with a height of 182 meters (597 ft) stands on the bank of the Sardar Sarovar Dam near Vadodara in Gujarat.
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