Historian rubbishes ‘claim’ that Nehru didn’t want Sardar in Cabinet.
New Delhi: External affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday got into a mild spat with historian and author Ramachandra Guha over a claim in a book that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had not wanted Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his Cabinet after Independence.
It all began when Mr Jaishankar released a biography of late civil servant V.P. Menon, written by Narayani Basu. Menon, as secretary of the then states department, had served under Sardar Patel when he was deputy PM and home minister in 1947. Mr Jaishankar referred to a claim in the book that Nehru had not wanted Sardar Patel in his Cabinet initially. But this claim was rubbished by Mr Guha. Mr Jaishankar, then somewhat sarcastically, said it may be a “good habit” for professors too to read books.
Mr Jaishankar tweeted: “Released an absorbing biography of VP Menon by @narayani_basu. Sharp contrast between Patel’s Menon and Nehru’s Menon. Much awaited justice done to a truly historical figure. Learnt from the book that Nehru did not want Patel in the Cabinet in 1947 and omitted him from the initial Cabinet list. Clearly, a subject for much debate. Noted that the author stood her ground on this revelation.”
Referring to a quote reportedly uttered by Menon that “when Sardar (Patel) died, a deliberate campaign was begun to efface his memory. I know this, because I have seen it, and at times, I fell victim to it myself”, Mr Jaishankar said: “Exercise of writing history for politics in the past needs honest treatment.”
Responding to the claim about Nehru, Guha said: “This is a myth, that has been comprehensively demolished by Prof. Srinath Raghavan... Besides, promoting fake news about, and false rivalries between the builders of modern India is not the job of the foreign minister. He should leave this to the BJP’s IT Cell.” Mr Jaishankar hit back: “Some foreign ministers do read books. May be a good habit for some professors too. In that case, strongly recommend the one I released.”