[Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Advisor to the Viceroy Sir Eric Melville, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Lord Mountbatten at a conference on the partition of India in June 1947. (Pic/Getty Images]
Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion in Lok Sabha that if Sardar Patel had been the first prime minister of the country, there would be no issue on Kashmir as it would have got fully integrated with India, is “contrary to the facts of history” said a number of historians and noted experts on the subject.
Historians and experts also questioned Modi's repeated attacks on Jawahralal Nehru and his Kashmir policy saying Nehru, unlike Patel, never used the issue as a bargaining tool.
"On the contrary, entire Kashmir might have been theirs. At one point, Sardar Patel was ready to offer Kashmir to Pakistan in return for Junagadh and Hyderabad's accession to India", Srinath Raghavan, a former army officer and an expert on the historical aspects of India’s foreign and security policies, tweeted soon after Prime Minister Modi's much publicised claim made in the Lok Sabha.
On the contrary, entire Kashmir might have been theirs. Patel was at one point willing to offer Kashmir to accede to Pakistan in return for Junagadh & Hyderabad's accession to India (1/n) https://t.co/atrZXv62Ts— Srinath Raghavan (@srinathraghava3) February 7, 2018
In a series of tweets, Raghavan added that it is "absurd to assume that he would have been tougher than Nehru on Kashmir".
After Modi's controversial claim, a June 2000 Frontline article by veteran political commentator AG Noorani is also making rounds in the media wherein he mentions that on 27 November 1972, the then President of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, told a tribal jirga at Landikotal about Sardar Patel’s offer to swap Kashmir for Junagadh and Hyderabad.
According to the article, another former Pakistan Prime Minister, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, corroborated this in his memoir.
Patel asked Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan: “Why do you compare Junagadh with Kashmir? Talk of Hyderabad and Kashmir and we could reach an agreement.” according to 'The Emergence of Pakistan', by Chaudhry Muhammad Ali.
Patel repeated this offer publicly at a meeting in Junagadh on 11 November, as mentioned in The Emergence of Pakistan. "Our reply was that one could agree to (sic.) Kashmir if they agreed to Hyderabad."
Professor and Former Union minister Saifuddin Soz in a statement released on Friday said his forthcoming book Kashmir: The Complete Story has details of this, “Patel consistently offered Kashmir to Pakistan, but Liaquat Ali Khan remained stubbornly obsessed with an imaginary idea of getting Hyderabad-Deccan which was neither connected by rail nor road with Pakistan.”
In the statement, Soz said in their books, Chaudhre Mohammad Ali, former Pakistan prime minister, and former minister and senior Muslim leader Sirdar Shaukat Hayat Khan lamented Liaquat Ali Khan’s attitude.
"History is based on facts and it can hardly help politicians who present their own perceptions as facts of history", Prof Soz said.
“I propose Prime Minister Modi to start a serious study on the history of India’s Freedom Struggle for his better understanding on Nehru and his relationship with Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.
In his, now controversial and widely criticised speech in the Lok Sabha, Modi also blamed Congress for “dividing India.”
“Out of 15 Congress committees, 12 chose Vallabhbhai Patel, three chose not to take any sides, and still, Vallabhbhai Patel was not allowed to lead the country. What sort of democracy was that? If Sardar Patel had become the prime minister, today a part of our beloved Kashmir would not have been under Pakistani occupation,” he said.
However, many experts pointed out that the Prime Minister was wrong on facts. Historian S Irfan Habib quoted Patel as saying in 1949: “It is good that we have agreed to partition in spite of all its evils; I have never repented my agreeing to partition.”
It is good that we have agreed to partition in spite of all its evils; I have never repented my agreeing to partition. Sardar Patel in 1949— S lrfan Habib (@irfhabib) June 3, 2017
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