Congress, BJP lock horns over Sardar Patel's legacy

BJP MP Rakesh Sinha(L) and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (R)

On Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's 144th birth anniversary, Congress and BJP were locked in a war over claiming his legacy with AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra deriding the BJP of being forced to honour a Congressman as it had no freedom icons of their own.

Priyanka's comments on Twitter sparked off a verbal duel with the BJP as Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered floral tributes at Patel's mammoth statue at Kevadia in Gujarat and Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off a 'Run for Unity' in the national capital.

“The BJP's attempt to appropriate Sardar Patel and its tributes make me very happy, because the BJP's action makes two things clear – one, they have no legendary freedom fighter of their own, almost all were linked with the Congress, and two, even Sardar Patel's enemies are forced to revere him,” Priyanka said.

She also noted that Patel was a dedicated Congress leader who was committed to the ideology of the Congress.

“He was a close companion of Jawaharlal Nehru and was staunchly opposed to the RSS,” Priyanka said.

BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Rakesh Sinha hit back at Priyanka contending that she and the Congress were forced to respect Patel.

“RSS and Patel had the same views on nationalism and sectarianism. It would be better if Priyanka corrects her history. Why did Patel offer to resign from Nehru's cabinet,” Sinha asked.

Sinha claimed that in July 1949, the Congress Working Committee under the leadership of Patel, had invited RSS volunteers to join the Congress.

“To know all this, Priyanka has to read history books other than those written under the patronage of her family,” he said.

“Sardar Patel renounced once Congress Presidentship for Nehru and also Prime Ministership for him. Nehru tried to put down Patel more than once just to prove his authority. Patel was against banning RSS. Nehru did it to hide his moral responsibility to save Bapu's life,” Sinha said.

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