Sardar Patel's Indictment - Wavell has succumbed to Jinnah's Veto!! - 1

Article : BLITZ, July 28, 1945 - By Homi J. H. Taleyarkhan

I had sought to meet that dominating personality of the Congress, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, three times previously. The first time I went to see him after his release he had gone to the doctor's. The second time he was going. The third time I tried to catch him at Madhav Bag where he was given a reception-but there were some forty thousand people between the Sardar and mee! However, like Robert Bruce, I kept on trying; and at the fourth attempt, after his return from Simla, I made no mistake...

When I told him the history of my efforts to see him, he expressed his regret. The reason was writ large all over his face. For Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is a very sick man. Jail life has taken heavy toll of his health- as it has of several other leaders and countless unnamed detenues.

Though he himself was not so well at the time of his arrest, even men with the robust constitution of Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad and Kirpalani were shattered, if not beyond repair, at least to the extent of being in need of long periods of rest.

All this naturally led me to ask him if their treatment in jail was not all that could be desired. The idol of Congress crowds, reclining on his divan, shrugged his shoulders, We had no complaints exactly, he began and then humorously proceeded to give the reason why they had no complaints : We asked for nothing and wanted nothing, so how could we have complaints!

But there was one very vital complaint. Medical attendance was very poor. Apart from jail doctors, the leaders were not allowed to consult any doctor of their own. The same complaint has been made to me by several detenues, broken in health, who have been recently released. How much worse their suffering must have been!

It was a wonder how the leaders made the trip to Simla at all almost immediately after they had started breathing fresh free air again. But the call of duty conquered their ailments. They had hardly any time to rest when they had to rush.

Gallantly they travelled to Simla in quest of a settlement for their country. Sincerely they believed that this time the British were in earnest about toeing out India from the stalemate that has settled over her as thick as the worst London fog.

Alas, they were deceived. Their sacrifice was in vain. Sardar Vallabhbhai said in despair the Conference might as well not have been called if the British had the intention of giving the power of veto to any one party. The Congress went to the Viceroy's veto, BUT WHEN THE VICEROY HIMSELF FELL A VICTIM TO JINNA'S VETO. THERE WAS NOTHING MORE TO BE SAID OR DONE.

The Sardar summoned his feeble strength to voice his resentment and annoyance against being called up all the way to Simla-just to be told that nothing could be achieved without Jinna's agreement!

If the Viceroy were going to be helpless without Jinnah why didn't he ascertain his attitude beforehand and find out if the League leader were ready to co-operate with the Congress.

Surely the British knew from experience and evidence that Jinnah would not bend to any compromise or reason and if they had any hopes that he would this time, they should have consulted him first before convening the conference. And if they had none, they should have determined on carrying on without him and his obstructionist-nay, his destructivist-policy.

Wavell could have quite easily told Jinnah-Look here, Mr. Jinnah, thus far and no further. I request you to be reasonable. But if you are not, I go ahead. Wavell said nothing of the sort. On the contrary, he pampered Jinnah like a spoilt child and allowed the conference to be broken up on his account and as he desired.

What do you think was the object of the British in doing that, I wondered. Did they enforce the failure of the Conference because the Tories felt assured of being returned to power. Was it an indication of approaching Tory Victory, for we know that so long as the Tories continue in power, they will never want a settlement to be brought about in India.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel differed from this view. He felt that Labour were one with the Tories in this respect, that Labour had approved the action of the Viceroy interminating the Conference a failure.

Then, I concluded gloomily, labour victory would make no difference in the British policy towards India? The leader, famous for his brilliant insight shook his head. No difference at all. It will not be exactly like going from the frying pan into the fire-but it will still be staying in the frying pan!


to be continued........