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Thursday 2 April 2020

Book on Nehru pits Jaishankar against Ramesh, Guha

'Learnt from the book that Nehru did not want Patel in the Cabinet in 1947 and omitted him from the initial cabinet list,' Jaishankar tweeted

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Did not Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, want to include Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his cabinet? Foreign Minister S Jaishankar tweeted a book quoting that Nehru did not want to include Patel in his cabinet in 1947 and even excluded him from the first list of the cabinet.

However, the INC has shared Nehru’s letter to Mountbatten, with Patel’s name at the top of the cabinet list, denying the claim made in the book.

Jaishankar wrote in a series of tweets that the issue definitely needs to be debated. “I found that the author was firm on this revelation,” he said.

Jaishankar earlier released the book VP Menon written by Narayani Basu on the biography of VP Menon, who played an important role in government in the initial years in independent India.

Jaishankar wrote in a tweet that to write the history of politics one has to be honest: “Exercise of writing history for politics in the past needs honest treatment. ‘When Sardar 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.’ So says VP Menon,” the foreign minister cited.

Jaishankar cited Menon’s words in the book in the same tweet, writing, “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.”

But Congress will defend Nehru

The INC has questioned the claim made on Nehru in the book. Jairam Ramesh has refuted the claim made in VP Menon’s biography with tweets too. Ramesh tweeted a letter dated 14 August 1947, writing that Patel was the No. 2 in the cabinet after Nehru.

Ramesh posted several tweets saying that I am presenting many letters and papers as evidence, amidst the false reports that Naheru did not include Patel in the cabinet. This is true.

Sports journalist-turned-historian Rahchandra Guha advised Jaishankar not to worry about it. He wrote in a tweet, “This is a myth, that has been comprehensively demolished by Professor Srinath Raghavan in The Print. 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.”

Guha posted a copy of a letter, saying, “The letter of 1 August where Nehru invites Patel to join the first Cabinet of free India, calling him the “strongest pillar” of that Cabinet. Can someone show this to ⁦@DrSJaishankar⁩, please?”

Then began a series of quoted tweets by Jaishankar and Guha. Sample these:

Senior journalist Piyush Bebale, who has written a book on Nehru, has rejected the claim made on Nehru in the new book. He has issued a letter dated 30 July 1947 questioning the claim made in the book VP Menon. This letter written by Nehru invites Vallabhbhai Patel to be included in the cabinet.

Unlike Guha’s citation, however, Bebale’s does not establish that Nehru had invited Patel to join his cabinet.

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