Sardar Patel Birthday.. How PM Modi robbed Patel legacy from Congress

New Delhi, News24 Bureau, Oct 30: While Congress was basking in the glory of past laurels wherein it laid claim on all iconic and historic personalities, BJP silently and shrewdly has snatched the credit from the country's grand old political party. Congress calls this a desperation to rewrite history. The list now runs long, after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, it's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and BR Ambedkar.

In a veiled attack on the Nehru-Gandhi clan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday alleged that the contribution of several great leaders such as Sardar Patel, B R Ambedkar and Bose to the country's freedom struggle was "deliberately" forgotten to glorify "one family".PM Narendra Modi has been leaving no stone unturned to commemorate the legacy of tall personalities from India's Freedom Struggle. Traditionally this has been the Congress bastion as the country's grand old party takes these personalities as a part of its illustrious legacy. Now BJP seems to be taking over and there certainly is a political agenda underlying in these celebrations. Recently at the Police Memorial inauguration, PM Modi asked, “Why did it take 70 years after independence for the memorials to come up?”Not long ago, PM Modi was more direct in his Red Fort speech. He said that the contribution of leaders such as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar and Sardar Patel have been "obliterated" in mainstream Indian discourse to "magnify the presence of one family". Accusing the BJP-led Centre of making a "conspiratorial attempt" to appropriate the legacy of Subhas Chandra Bose, Congress said the saffron party was "desperate to rewrite history".He also said it was high time more Indians got to know about the historic role these stalwarts had played. Congress' Abhishek Singhvi says that it had always endeavoured to protect, preserve and propagate the ideals of Bose, the brave patriot and secularist."Those who do not have their own ideas and idol and had zero contribution in the national movement of freedom struggle are trying to appropriate the legacy of our freedom fighters, in an attempt to be perceived as nationalists. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi desperately tried to do the same."A desperate BJP is trying to rewrite history and create an imagined rivalry between Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru and between Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Nehru. It has used auspicious occasions for these cheap political tricks," he said.Singhvi pointed out that Bose and Patel were completely against the "philosophy of sectarianism and bigotry that is espoused by Prime Minister Modi's ideological patriarch -- the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha".He said Patel, in a letter to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, had stated that the "activities of the Hindu Mahasabha were a clear threat to the existence of the government and the activities had not died down, despite the ban".On earlier occasions, he had declared, BJP would honour great personalities neglected by the Congress, who played a role in the independence struggle and nation building.The reactions were on expected lines. There were loud cheers from BJP supporters across the country. The Congress came down heavily on Narendra Modi and the BJP. It accused them of trying to appropriate national icons like Subhas Bose, Sardar Patel and Ambedkar.It is not a mere coincidence that Patel’s statue of unity, Ambedkar Memorial, Police Memorial and now recognition to Bose from Red Fort is coming from a BJP government, all in the same tenure. But in being over-defensive about it, the Congress is scoring self goals.First of all if the Congress had not left gaps wide open in public memory for these giants of the freedom struggle, there was no way for the BJP to sneak into that space. The fact that it has to contest BJP’s claims itself concedes the point. This cannot be missed.

The second important point is that no one can have proprietary rights over national heroes. It is pointless to argue about the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the freedom movement. As Indians, they are as entitled to stake claims to the legacy of these greats as Congress or anyone else for that matter. Congress is being naive in disparaging the efforts. For example, they mocked the Statue of Unity saying it was “Made in China”. In doing so, far from undermining the BJP, they are in fact further slighting these personalities. That reinforces the impression of the Congress being averse to any non-Nehru-Gandhi dynasty members gaining but not the least; the Congress itself can be accused of convenient “appropriation”. Congress that we see today is in no way the natural successor of the Indian National Congress formed in 1885. Present Congress was a breakaway group created by Indira Gandhi. It is another matter that the original Congress was decimated over time. One thing is for sure that the present INC its only legitimate inheritor.