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If Patel & Indira meet…

Srinivasan Balakrishnan

The 597-foot-tall steely Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel steadily rose, up and above the world so high, and peeped into the upper world. Mrs. Indira Gandhi was strolling there surrounded by her usual coterie and kitchen cabinet members. By way of pleasantries, Patel joked, 'Here Cometh Nehru's daughter; Giveth a stable rule …', but she interrupts, 'With your blessings, Sir, I am ready to provide a stable government here also' ‘Let me finish, dear.

What I was wondering was if you would have electoral tie up for the  Tamil Nadu local body elections with that nonagenarian DMK leader, Karunanidhi, who was dead against you for declaring Emergency  but immediately after emergency welcomed you for electoral tie up as Here Cometh Nehru's daughter; Giveth a stable rule …'.

‘So, you did not invite me to provide a stable government here?’ Indira was visibly disappointed. ‘Well, may be the emergency for that has not arisen. By the by, if the entire Arunachal Pradesh cabinet could switch sides, what is the harm in mere electoral alliances?’ Indira tried to needle Sardar Patel. She continued, ‘As regards your question, let the bridge come nearer, then I will think of a strategy to cross it over. In the meantime, the frogs in my pond, I mean, in my party, must keep their mouth shut. They might spoil both the Congress party as well as the tea party’.

 ‘You mean to say ‘'let's see'’ in Kamaraj's style, isn't it?’  Patel was inquisitive. ‘Oh, well, there are neither permanent foes nor friends in politics. That is raj tantra’, pat replied Indira. Patel quipped, ‘Your rani tantra!

‘There is a buzz that your grandson Rahul is the PM-in-waiting in Congress, the fourth in your Nehru-Gandhi clan,’ Patel tries to assess her pulse. ‘Why not? What is wrong?’ Indira seemed upset. ‘Others also need some reservation, no? You see, particularly the Patels,’ he teases her. ‘These days every group is fighting for their share of the cake,’ laments Patel.

 ‘But I was selected purely on merit by none else than the King Maker Kamaraj himself. And I proved myself as the chip of the old block, didn’t I? While you integrated 565 provinces and created united India, I was left with only a small country like Sikkim. I had only further strengthened India by Sikkim's merger. And, had I not done that, the red dragon would have definitely swallowed it with just a lick. Remember what is happening right now at Doklam Pass. Don't you realise how important it was for our safety and security,’ Indira made a self-analysis. ‘Indeed, indeed!' magnanimously acknowledged Patel.

  ‘Buddha's smile at Pokhran was one more colourful & peaceful feather in my cap,’ she proclaimed proudly. ‘Ah, you need not have mixed up Buddha with Bomb!’ wondered aloud the Sardar.

‘These days they claim that the PM's Jan Dhan Yojana has brought banks closer to the people. Back in those days itself I had nationalised the banks and opened their treasuries for people's sake’, Indira went on. ‘Though, for which gang of people is a matter of question’, exclaimed Patel.

‘Had I not acted boldly in the creation of Bangladesh, our nation's position would be similar to that of the dolak being beaten on both the sides, by West and East Pakistans. If you are the Iron Man of India, I am the Iron Woman!’ ‘But Ms. Thatcher was called the Iron Lady, if I remember correctly’, Patel seemed a bit confused.             ‘Well, there she, here I am, why not?’

 ‘Now I understand … that is why you declared emergency with an iron heart and implemented it with an iron hand’, Patel poked at her. ‘Tell me, what was the harm? Trains ran on time, government staff was in the seat dot on time, but whether they worked or not was a different issue. Even the notorious Madras auto rickshaw wallahs plied wherever the passengers wanted to and without demanding an extra paisa over and above the meter rate. In my opinion, just this one achievement alone would justify emergency. Everything went on with military-precision, don't you agree?’

  ‘Yes, but the people could not breathe with military-precision, don't you agree?’ pat came Sardar’s reply. ‘Well, when something is beneficial for a majority, a little suffering for the miniscule minority can be neglected, that is my democracy’, declared Indiraji. ‘Damn with your policy. But your son came to power riding on a wave, no?’

  ‘I would put it this way - when a big banyan tree was uprooted it created an equally massive tidal wave. Please remember, the wave came in search of him and not vice versa. He smoothly surfed on it and literally 'came, saw and conquered'. Unlike the stupid King Canute, he was not a fool to command the wave to stop.’

 ‘Your time and life were different, dear. Would the mere qualification that Rahul is your grandson suffice these days?’  ‘If you are trying to provoke me even after my patient clarification, I would declare emergency here also, remember’. Indira seemed visibly upset. ‘My dear daughter, remember that Lord Indra rules here, not Madam Indira’. ‘In that case, "Indira is Indra Lok and Indra Lok is Indiramantra will henceforth echo all over here’, declaring so Madam Indira left in a huff. And her coterie dutifully followed her chanting the new mantra "Indira is Indra Lok and Indra Lok is Indira"!

  ‘Maya, Maya, everything is Maya’.  Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel mimicked Super Star Rajinikanth’s punch song from film Baba to remind Indiraji of this eternal truth; then he returned to his base near the Narmada Dam to enjoy his cup of tea, continuing the song “..chaya, chaya, everything is chaya…”  while his shishya Modi was echoing one more ad mantra ‘Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat’!   

Well, it was an unlikely meeting of (un)like-minded persons. Jokes apart, here is the fact – While Sardar Patel was born on 31 October 1875, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984. ….


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