If this “achievement” is magnified, Patel’s grave lapse in the failure to nip in time Savarkar’s conspiracy to murder Gandhi has been completely overlooked. Jayaprakash Narayan was among those who censured him. JP said on February 27, 1948, that he wanted “a man who was free from communalism to be in charge of the Home Department” (Bombay Chronicle, February 28, 1948).
Madanlal Pahwa exploded a bomb at Gandhi’s prayer meeting on January 20, 1948. He had visited Savarkar a week before. On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated. The conspiracy could and should have been unravelled in those 10 days and Gandhi’s life saved. It was not. He died a martyr’s death. At the very outset, Madanlal confessed to the police that he was “one of a group of killers” not a crazy loner; also that he had “personally met” Savarkar. In seven hours the police “knew they were faced with a plot. They knew how many people were involved…. They had information which, with a little patient effort, would allow them to identify Nathuram Godse” (Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre; Freedom at Midnight, 1976; page 412: They were given access to the police files). They expose the crass negligence of the senior police officials in Delhi (“a puzzling lack of zeal”) and Morarji Desai’s refusal to arrest Savarkar. Patel himself could well have ordered that since Madanlal had mentioned his name on day one. Madanlal made a full 54-page confession, which he signed at 9-30 p.m. on January 24 (ibid, page 418). There was yet time to save a precious life. In contrast, for no reason at all, Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah are accused of neglect for Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s death by heart failure in Srinagar on June 23, 1953.
Justice J.L. Kapur, a former Judge of the Supreme Court, found in his ‘Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi’ that the investigation into the conspiracy to murder was at no point conducted “with that earnestness or that alacrity which an attempt on the life of Mahatma Gandhi required or deserved. As far as the Commission has been able to see, there was routine interrogation of Madanlal, which went on from 20th to 24th and even then the disclosure was not of any very great one” (Report, Volume 5, para 23.253). The Delhi Police “made no use” of other information either (para 23.256). The Judge concluded: “The officials of the Delhi Administration and the Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs were evidently ignorant of the conspiracy to murder. It was the duty of the police to have given them proper information. That is not to say that the officers themselves did not show any indifference because one would have expected that when a thing like a bomb is exploded at a meeting of Mahatma Gandhi, the whole Administration would become alert and become anxious to find out what exactly had happened and not leave it to the sweet-will of the police officials to give them that information. The anxiety of the officialdom in New Delhi to take any intelligent interest in the investigation of the bomb case is not indicated by any tangible evidence” (para 23.259).
Nor is there any evidence of such interest by the Minister in charge, the Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel. The paragraph directly raises the issue of ministerial responsibility. It is of two kinds—constructive (for the gross neglect of officials) and actual, for personal neglect. In this case, both are attracted. Patel told Nehru on February 27, 1948, “I have kept myself in daily touch with the progress of the investigation regarding Bapu’s assassination case” (Durga Das (Ed.) Sardar Patel’s Correspondence (SPC); Navajivan Publishing House; Volume 6, page 56). Similar industry, expended assiduously, before the murder by this accomplished criminal lawyer would have saved the life of a man whom he loved all his life. He owed a duty to do so personally, given the importance of the person who was targeted. Patel was responsible for contributing to the foul atmosphere by wooing the RSS in January 1948, a lapse which JP noted (see box).
PATEL AND ‘QUIT INDIA’
It is historically false to ascribe to Patel achievements which were not his and absolve him of responsibility which indisputably fell on him. Two major events reveal his lack of wisdom. Patel “felt convinced that the allies were going to lose the war” (K.M. Munshi; Pilgrimage to Freedom; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan; Volume 1, page 75). Gandhi held the same view (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad; India Wins Freedom, 1959; page 4). The Congress Working Committee was split when it met on April 27, 1942, to discuss Gandhi’s draft resolution; a precursor to the Quit India movement launched on August 8, 1942. The minutes were seized and published by the British rulers (Congress Responsibility for the Disturbances of 1942-43; Manager of Publications, Delhi; pages 42-49 contain the minutes and the rival drafts). Nehru, Azad and a couple of others disagreed but dutifully went along. Patel did not argue but simply said, “I see that there are two distinct opinions in the committee. We have ever since the outbreak of war tried to pull together. But it may not be possible on this occasion. Gandhiji has taken a definite stand…. I have placed myself in the hands of Gandhiji. I feel that he is instinctively right, the lead he gives in all critical occasions.” On June 22, 1941, Hitler had attacked the Soviet Union. On December 7, 1941, Japan had attacked Pearl Harbour. By mid-June 1942 “the limit of Japanese power was reached”. It was sheer madness for the AICC to pass the Quit India resolution on August 8, 1942; especially on Gandhi’s miscalculation that the British would negotiate with him and not arrest him and his colleagues.
On June 15, 1947, Sir Chimanlal Setalvad wrote in The Times of India: “The cherished boon of a united India had fallen into the lap, but they [the Congress] by their own want of political window threw it out and made it beyond their reach.” He was alluding to the Congress’ sabotage of the Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16, 1946, for a united India based on three groups of provinces, which the Muslim League accepted. Patel wrote to Munshi the very next day noting jubilantly that “an authoritative pronouncement in clear terms has been made against the possibility of Pakistan in any shape or form”. Munshi correctly understood its import: “It was evident that Sardar was prepared to pay a price for averting the partition of the country, and was willing to share power with the Muslim League.” This lay at the heart of the Plan. By June, the Congress wrecked it and Patel pursued course until March 1947.
Wherein lay his much vaunted statesmanship? Statesmanship lies in reaching out to the rival, curbing one’s emotions, to reach a fair accord. Patel was calculating in his tactics. His strategy was governed by his strong emotions. The much-touted letter to Nehru on China, dated November 7, 1950, was drafted by Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai and written to Nehru at his instance. It said laconically, “The policy in regard to McMahon Line”, without defining it. It was silent on Aksai Chin. All the maps in the two White Papers on Indian States (1948 and 1950) correctly show the boundary from the trijunction with China and Afghanistan all the way to the trijunction to Nepal to be “undefined”. Nehru would have been denounced had his Ministry published them.
Patel’s behaviour towards colleagues could be devious. C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar, the autocratic Dewan of Travancore, whom Nehru detested, was Patel’s friend because both were Hindu revivalists. On August 16, 1942, C.P. met Viceroy Lord Linlithgow, who recorded, “Sir C.P. gave me an interesting piece of news. He had, he said, been coming through Bombay on his way to see Sir Stafford Cripps on behalf of the princes last spring, when he had met Vallabhbhai Patel, who said that the whole Cripps Mission was neither more nor less than a carefully organised stunt on the part of Nehru designed to get himself into the front of the platform and become Prime Minister of India; that the moment he had realised that this was the case he had vowed that he would torpedo the whole scheme and that there was reason to believe, in C.P.’s opinion, that Mr Patel more than anyone else was responsible for the obstinacy of Mr Gandhi’s antagonism and fixed determination to destroy it.” (TOP, volume 2, page 723). Patel knew that C.P. would carry the tale to the Viceroy.
Patel was constantly at loggerheads with his colleagues when they were together in prison, as Nehru’s jail diary records. Muslim Congressmen were openly distrusted and disliked. M. Asaf Ali’s Memoirs (G.N.S. Raghavan (ed.) Ajanta, 1994) is a neglected document. An entry in his diary on January 27, 1944, records that Patel “seems to consider everyone who does not agree with his point of view a sort of delinquent.… Patel & Co. have, time and again, spoken in a manner rather ironical, indicating that (Dr Syed) Mahmud, I and (less marked) Maulana (Azad) don’t come up to their mark” (pages 314-5).
Once out of prison, the gloves of enforced civility were off. On July 24, 1947, Gandhi asked Nehru to exclude Azad from the first Cabinet of free India. “Sardar is decidedly against his membership in the Cabinet.… It should not be difficult to name another Muslim for the Cabinet” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 9, page 408). Far worse followed. Patel publicly impugned the patriotism of a man who had suffered Jinnah’s insults and his own community’s scorn. Azad convened the Indian Union Muslim Conference in Lucknow on December 27, 1947, at which he pleaded for the dissolution of the Muslim League and urged Muslims to join the Congress. A resolution on these lines was unanimously adopted the next day (Vide the writer’s The Muslims of India: A Documentary Record; Oxford University Press, 2003; page 65 for the full text). Incidentally, the move would have strengthened Nehru.
However, addressing a huge public meeting in the same city only a few days later, on January 6, 1948, Patel impugned Azad’s patriotism and also invited the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS to join the Congress, simultaneously in one and the same speech. Only a rank communalist would have spoken thus.
These extracts from an authentic record reveal him for what he truly was. He raked up the past with venom and vehemence. Patel knew how utterly demoralised Indian Muslims were. He asked the Muslim Leaguers in Pakistan: “Have they ever looked at the Muslims living in Hindustan? Have they ever sympathised with them”. This did not prod him to do the same for them himself nor deter him from attacking them. “I want to ask the Indian Muslims only one question. In the recent All India Muslim Conference why did you not open your mouth on Kashmir? Why did you not condemn the action of Pakistan. These things create doubt in the minds of the people. Those who are disloyal will have to go to Pakistan.” From then on Kashmir became a loyalty test for Muslims.
INVITATION TO RSS
The stick for Muslims was brandished along with the carrot for the RSS and the Mahasabha. “I invite the RSS to join the Congress and not to weaken administration by creating unrest in the country. I realise that they are not actuated by selfish motives but the situation warrants that they should strengthen the hands of the government and assist in maintaining peace. By using violence they cannot render true service to the country….
“I appeal to the Hindu Mahasabhaites to join the Congress. No good will be served by remaining aloof. If you think that you are the only custodians of Hinduism, you are mistaken. Hinduism preaches a broader outlook on life. There is much more of tolerance in Hinduism than is interpreted.
“I appeal to the RSS to use their wisdom and work judiciously. I ask them not to be rash and tactless. Do not be aggressive…. Those who are disloyal will have to go to Pakistan. Those who are still riding on two horses will have to quit Hindustan.
“In the Congress those who are in power feel that by virtue of authority they will be able to crush the RSS. By ‘danda’ you cannot suppress an organisation. Moreover, ‘danda’ is meant for thieves and ‘dakus’. Using of “danda” will not help much. After all, RSS men are not thieves and dacoits. They are patriots. They love their country. Only their trend of thought is diverted. They are to be won over by Congressmen with love.” (For a United India: Speeches of Sardar Patel; Publications Division; pages 64-69 for the full text). Patel cannot escape responsibility for fouling the command atmosphere. Entry of these elements would have strengthened him against Nehru in the party and the Cabinet, changing the secular complexion of the polity. He took a bold step by getting the Congress Working Committee to pass a resolution on November 10, 1949, authorising the entry of RSS men into the Congress. “He took advantage of Nehru’s absence abroad” (Jaffrelot notes, page 90). It was a dishonourable manoeuvre on the part of one who claimed to be straightforward. The resolution was rescinded on November 17, 1949, promptly on Nehru’s return, to Patel’s deserved humiliation.
Such an approach had its impact on the working of the Cabinet, as Sarvepalli Gopal recorded. “In performing this duty, his first as the leader of free people, Nehru could not rely on the unqualified support of his Cabinet. Some of the members, such as Azad, John Matthai, [Rafi Ahmed] Kidwai and Amrit Kaur, were with him, but they carried little influence with the masses. The old stalwarts of the Congress, however, such as Patel and Rajendra Prasad, with the backing of the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, believed not so much in a theocratic state as in a state which symbolised the interest of the Hindu majority. Patel assumed that Muslim officials, even if they had opted for India, were bound to be disloyal and should be dismissed; and to him the Muslims in India were hostages to be held as security for the fair treatment of Hindus in Pakistan. He, therefore, resisted Nehru’s efforts to reserve certain residential areas in Delhi for Muslims and to employ Muslims to deal with Muslim refugees. Even more non-secular in outlook than Patel was Rajendra Prasad, the meek follower of Gandhi but untouched in any real sense by the sprit of Gandhi’s teachings. One-sided action, he wrote to his Prime Minister, could not bring the desired results but would in fact lead to most undesirable and unexpected consequences. There was no use in bringing in the army to protect the Muslim citizens of Delhi if the Hindus and Sikhs were expelled from the cities of Pakistan” (Gopal; Volume 2, pages 15-16).
Nehru chided Mohanlal Saxena, Minister for Rehabilitation, who had ordered the sealing of Muslim shops in Delhi and the United Provinces: “All of us seem to be getting infected with the refugee mentality or worse still, the RSS mentality” (ibid, page 77).
In a confidential note to Cabinet Ministers on September 12, 1947, Nehru asked, “Are we to aim at or to encourage trends which will lead to the progressive elimination of the Muslim population from India, or are we to consolidate, make secure and absorb as full citizens the Muslims who remain in India? That, again, involves our conception of India; is it going to be, as it has been in a large measure, a kind of composite state where there is complete cultural freedom for various groups, but at the same time a strong political unity, or do we wish to make it, as certain elements appear to desire, definitely a Hindu or a non-Muslim state? If the Hindus think in terms of any domination, cultural or otherwise, over others, this would not only be against our own repeated professions, but would naturally displease other and smaller minorities in India” (S. Gopal and Uma Iyengar (Eds.) The Essential Writings of Jawaharlal Nehru; Oxford University Press, 2003; Volume I, page 165).
Nehru’s letter to G.B. Pant on April 17, 1950, was a cri de coeur: “I have felt for a long time that the whole atmosphere of the U.P. has been changing for the worse from the communal point of view. Indeed the U.P. is becoming almost a foreign land for me. I do not fit in there. The U.P. Congress Committee, with which I have been associated for 35 years, now functions in a manner which amazes me. Its voice is not the voice of the Congress I have known, but something which I have opposed for the greater part of my life” (ibid, page 181). These documents reveal the contrast and explain why the Sangh Parivar hates Nehru and idolises Patel.
RIOTS AND INSENSITIVITY
Communal riots brought out the contrast glaringly. Patel spoke consistently, invariably as a Hindu, all the time spouting the stereotypes of old. The cycle of riots in Calcutta (August 1946), Noakhali (October 1946) and Bihar (October 1946) brought out the old Adam in him. Patel’s complaint to Stafford Cripps is most revealing. “You called the League delegation there (in London along with Nehru and Baldev Singh) at a time when there was some realisation that violence is a game at which both parties can play and the mild Hindu also, when driven to desperation, can retaliate as brutally as a fanatic Muslim. Just when the time for settlement was reached, Jinnah got the invitation, and he was able to convince the Muslims once again that he has been able to get more concession by creating trouble and violence” (SPC; Volume 3, page 314). So “the time for settlement was reached” when one community had prevailed over the other in killing. A little more bloodshed would have helped the Congress and weakened the Muslim League.
To Rajaji, Patel wrote on August 21, 1946, about Bengal. “There is a complete breakdown of safety and order but there is nobody responsible to check the thing. However, this will be a good lesson for the League, because I hear that the proportion of Muslims who have suffered death is much larger” (ibid, page 49). A very comforting and civilised reaction to bloodshed.
Nehru was shaken by the Bihar riots (“a definite attempt on the part of Hindu mobs to exterminate the Muslims”, ibid, page 165, vide his detailed report to Patel, pages 168-170). Patel was, of course, unmoved. Prof. B.B. Misra writes: “The Bihar riots tended to shake even the confidence of nationalist Muslims in the ability of the Congress to ensure the protection of Muslim life and property. That was a considerable gain to Jinnah” (The Indian Political Parties; Oxford University Press, 1976, page 603).
Any complaint against Muslims, however unverified, sufficed to make Patel fly off the handle. Sample this. “The cowardice of the Hindus in those parts is disgraceful but I am not prepared to absolve the state of its share of responsibility. The present dawn is new but the traditions of the state have always been to prosecute the Hindus in any quarrel of a communal nature between the Hindus and Muslims, in which the state always takes the side of the Muslims. The police have generally harassed the Hindus by arresting and extorting money on such occasions and therefore they have not taken courage to defend themselves. It is the duty of the state to protect their subjects from such inexcusable intolerance and violence as also train the people in the art of self-defence.”
Savarkar or Golwalkar could not have improved on this. In his letter of August 26, 1946, he was referring not to a Muslim state, but to the State of Baroda, whose Dewan was Sir B.L. Mitter, one of the first to rebel against the Nawab of Bhopal (Chopra (Ed.), Sardar Patel; Muslims and Refugees; Konark; 2004; page 34). Partition only intensified the hate. It was present well before that, as Asaf Ali and others noted.
“One fact is indisputable. Many Muslims in India have helped for the creation of Pakistan. How one can believe that they can change overnight? The Muslims say that they are loyal citizens. Therefore, why should anybody doubt their bona fide? To them, I would say: ‘Why do you ask us? Search your own conscience!’” This was said on January 3, 1948 (ibid, page 128). Would the Pakistanis have been justified in posing similar questions to the Hindus who had opposed, very rightly, the very establishment of their new country?
THE REFUGEE QUESTION
Predictably, these emotions surged after Partition. What is little remembered today is that Patel was all for getting the Muslims out of Delhi and for preventing the return to their homes of Muslims who had fled to Pakistan in panic. There was no curb on the traffic between India and Pakistan then. At a meeting of the Emergency Committee of the Cabinet, Patel said that “there was bound to be trouble if as a result of these Muslims not moving out, it proved impossible to accommodate non-Muslim refugees coming from the West” (Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar; The Long Partition; Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2008; page 39. A work of high quality based on the archives). Nehru was warned on May 4, 1948, that “reports have reached me of considerable discontent both amongst the public in general, and refugees in particular, in regard to our failure to prevent the inflow of Muslims from Pakistan” (SPC, Volume 6, page 319).
It was always “the people’s” opinion that Patel claimed to represent even in this incredible refrain to Nehru on September 2, 1947: “People are openly clamouring as to why Muslims are allowed to go about in peace openly in the streets of Delhi and other towns.” He carefully left the alternative unsaid; only to pose another question: “Why there are any Muslims at all in the police and the civil administration, and are indulging in similar other demands” (SPC; Volume 4; page 318). Elementary human rights were to be denied, apparently. Nehru’s Note for the Cabinet on the Delhi disturbances, dated September 18, 1947, was emphatic on the right to return. “As soon as normality is restored arrangements should be made for Muslim residents of Delhi, who are at present in various camps, to return to their houses in Delhi city. To begin with, security arrangements should be made in those areas of Delhi city where such Muslim residents reside.… It should be clearly understood that the houses vacated by Muslim evacuees continue to belong to them and that ownership and property in them cannot pass to another” (ibid, page 342).
Patel would have none of it, as he wrote to Nehru on May 4, 1948: “Reports have reached me of considerable discontent both amongst the public, in general, and refugees, in particular, in regard to our failure to prevent the inflow of Muslims from Pakistan” (SPC, Volume 6; page 319). This flew in the face of a Cabinet decision of March 4, 1948, as Nehru reminded Patel: “You will remember that we came to the conclusion two or three months ago that the areas in Delhi city which are now predominantly Muslim should be reserved for Muslims” (ibid, page 261).
By December 1948, Patel was demanding that “a part of East Pakistan be carved out and handed over to India for rehabilitation of refugees” (Chopra, page 271). The limit was reached in a staggering suggestion to Nehru on October 15, 1950. Nehru replied on October 27: “You suggest that we might have to consider giving a clear indication to the Pakistan Government that if this immigration continues we would have no alternative left except to send out Muslims from West Bengal in equal numbers.
“It is perfectly true that this continuing migration is a tremendous problem for us and I cannot suggest an obvious remedy. It is largely due to deteriorating economic conditions and the Pakistan Govenrment is hardly capable of improving these conditions. But I am quite clear in my mind that any suggestion about Muslims being sent from West Bengal to East Bengal would lead to disastrous consequences. Even an indication of this would injure our case very greatly without in the least affording us relief from the migration.
“A suggestion of this kind was made some time back by Bidhan Roy [Chief Minister of West Bengal] and I wrote to him rather strongly on the subject. I felt that such an idea would completely put an end to a stand we have taken as a secular state and it would create communal trouble all over India and the great gain to us of the Hyderabad affair would vanish. Every Muslim in India would feel an alien and in effect we would have established a Hindu state. Our world position, which is high at present, would suffer irretrievably. Every action that we have taken in the past, every declaration that we have made will be judged from a new standpoint and we shall be condemned and isolated. Our enemies would of course say that they were right, throughout, our friends will remain silent in a shame-faced way. All kinds of new problems and difficulties would arise and the consequences in every direction will be bad. Then again how would one pick out Muslims, who are undoubtedly citizens of India, to be sent to East Bengal? None of them will want to go voluntarily and we would have to employ force. Neither international nor domestic law could justify this pushing out of our own citizens to a foreign country which does not want them” (SPC, Volume 7, pages 670-671).
It is dishonest to characterise this as a “knee-jerk reaction” in order to wipe out the brazen exposure of a vicious mind. It was in character and fitted into his entire outlook. The suggestion had figured in a long, considered letter of October 19, 1948, which covers five pages of Volume 7 of SPC (pages 258-262): “I am beginning to wonder whether a clear indication to the Pakistan Government that, if this immigration continues on account of deterioration of conditions in East Bengal, we would have no alternative except to send out Muslims from West Bengal in equal numbers, would not goad them into some salutary action.” That such a hideous thought should cross his mind at all is amazing. How were the victims of his wrath to be selected en bloc from the border areas? If so which? Or were they to be selected by drawing lots? To think that a man with such views should be exalted as he is these days. Or that the Congress should have held him up as an example to emulate rather than “neglect” him, as an apologist complains.
Apart from Baldev Singh and Rajendra Prasad, Chief Ministers like G.B. Pant (U.P.) Ravi Shankar Shukla (Central Province) and B.C. Roy (West Bengal) shared his outlook and joined the drive to exclude Muslims from the Services. “The sooner we issue instructions to provincial governments to take action for disarming the Muslim element [in the Special Army Constabulary], the better,” Patel wrote to Defence Minister Baldev Singh on October 7, 1947 (SPC, Volume 4, page 518). Such moves, during the immediate aftermath of Partition persisted long after, despite Nehru’s repeated protests to the Chief Ministers, and account for the sad conditions now. The Minister for Supply, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, did not write to Nehru but to a kindred spirit, Patel, to vent his spleen. On July 17, 1948, he made an interesting proposal for a united front to Patel: “It is of utmost importance that in spite of political differences between party and party, a general atmosphere of stability and confidence amongst Hindus should be steadily promoted.” Would he have dared to write thus to Nehru? “By allowing strong pockets to be created in different parts of India we shall be sowing the seeds of our own destruction.” Patel replied on July 18, 1948: “As regards Muslims, I entirely agree with you as to the dangerous possibilities inherent in the presence in India of a section of disloyal elements” (SPC, Volume 6, page 324).
Patel freely used the Intelligence Bureau (I.B.) to spy on his colleagues within the Congress, like Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, and the Congress Socialist Party (CSP). On February 6, 1948, he sent to Nehru a “copy of a secret report” by the I.B. on the CSP. It was tailored to his purposes by accusing them of plotting for his ouster from the Cabinet. The CSP had “decided to exploit the situation created by this tragedy (Gandhi’s assassination) to gain power both in the Congress organisation and [in] the Government” (SPC, Volume 6; pages 33-34). That was his ploy to blunt J.P.’s censures on Patel’s neglect which cost Gandhi’s life. There were “Communist cells inside government itself”, the Swadeshi McCarthy warned Nehru (ibid, page 445). It was time to float “a parallel organisation which may for all intents and purposes be recognised as a genuine Trade Union Congress”. What was non-genuine about the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), which the highly respected N.M. Joshi supported? (ibid, page 94) The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) was floated to subserve Congress interests. The tactics to be followed were indicated to V.V. Giri on December 17, 1945. “Either capture AITUC by peaceful and decent means or start a rival TU Congress which would straightaway be recognised by the government and all pretensions of the representative character of the rival Communist organisation be destroyed.” How the birth of a rival could destroy the powerful AITUC was not explained. The modus operandi was plain—official patronage (SPC; Volume 2).
PATEL AND KASHMIR
This was Nye’s Tammany Hall boss in full swing. Kashmir and Hyderabad felt the brunt of Patel’s tactics and the full impact of his rabidly communal approach. He chose an appropriate tool, the RSS boss M.S. Golwalkar, who was protected from arrest by Pant, though the Chief Secretary, Rajeshwar Dayal, had seized his papers containing plans for a pogrom of Muslims. One of the best books on the RSS is The Brotherhood in Saffron (Vistaar, 1987) by Walter Anderson, a respected official in the United States State Department who also served in the embassy in New Delhi, and Shridhar Damle. It is based inter alia on the RSS’ own papers. They wrote: “Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel solicited Golwalkar’s help in an effort to convince the Hindu Maharaja of Kashmir to merge his princely state with India. Golwalkar met the Maharaja in October 1947 and urged him to recruit Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs into his militia’’ (page 49).
To Patel, Kashmir was “a Hindu State, situated in Muslim surroundings”, an odd way to describe its overwhelmingly Muslim population (SPC, Volume 1, page 4). As for Nehru, “After all he is a Hindu and that a Kashmiri Hindu” (ibid, page 3). These letters, respectively, of June 19, 1946, and June 16, 1946, written in confidence, reflected his mindset. On Partition, he plumbed for