Sardar Patel, one of the foremost political leaders of India, was known for leading the nation’s freedom struggle from the front and for that, was referred to as the “Ironman of India”. This is the story of how his foray into politics began.
After passing his Barrister-at-Law examination in England, in the year 1913, Vallabhbhai Patel returned to Ahmedabad in Gujarat and started practicing there. With his urbane manners, European-style clothes, and excellent bridge playing skills, he was a much sought after lawyer known for his honesty and dexterity in handling legal affairs. His legal practice flourished more with each passing day.
First Step into Politics
In the year 1917, at the behest of his friends, Sardar Patel contested elections for the post of Ahmedabad’s sanitation commissioner, and won. Even though he ended up disagreeing with British officials on certain civic issues, he failed to show any underlying interest in politics. Upon hearing of Mahatma Gandhi’s activities during those days, Sardar Patel had once joked to G.V. Mavlankar and said, “Gandhi would ask you if you know how to sift pebbles from wheat. And that is supposed to bring independence.”
However, he was very impressed by Mahatma Gandhi’s success in the Champaran Satyagraha, wherein he had confronted the British for the sake of oppressed farmers in the region. He was deeply influenced by how Gandhi wore Indian-style attire and lay emphasis on the use of one’s mother tongue as opposed to English, which was the lingua franca of intellectuals in India. Patel was specifically attracted to Gandhi’s relentless inclination towards action, along with his resolution that condemned the arrest of Annie Besant (political leader).
In September 1917, Sardar Patel’s speech in Borsad encouraged Indians across the nation to sign Gandhi’s petition that demanded Swaraj—or independence from Britain. He met Mahatma Gandhi at the Gujarat Political Conference, a month later, in Godhra. Sardar Patel was nominated as the secretary of Gujarat Sabha—a popular public body that went on to become the arm of Indian National Congress in Gujarat.
Thereafter, began Sardar Patel’s journey into Indian politics, which culminated only with his demise on 15 December, 1950.