Foreign Minister S Jaishankar Is Fighting With Historian Ramachandra Guha On Nehru’s Cabinet
New Delhi/Bengaluru: Foreign Minister Jaishankar today triggered an ‘internal’ war of words over two personalities who often touch a raw nerve of the BJP and the Congress – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
It all started with a tweet from Jaishankar on a new biography of V.P. Menon which he released and which asserts that Nehru had excluded Sardar Patel from the first cabinet.
This was enough for historian Ramchandra Guha to jump into the fray with a series of tweets sending the social media on a spin.
It was Jaishankar who started the twitter war. “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,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
He further said: Released an absorbing biography of VP Menon by @narayani_basu. The sharp contrast between Patel’s Menon and Nehru’s Menon. Much awaited justice done to a truly historical figure.
Minutes later, Guha rubbished Jaishankar’s claim terming it a myth. He cited Prof Srinath Raghavan’s article which traces the chain of events that had occurred over the formation of the first cabinet in order to contradict Narayani Basu’s stand.
And then he gave a lesson to Jaishankar saying “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.”
It did not end there. Jaishankar responded to Guha’s criticism with an acerbic tweet saying “some foreign Ministers do read books. Maybe a good habit for some Professors too. In that case, strongly recommend the one I released yesterday.”
Guha crossed swords once more with the FM saying since Jaishankar had a PhD from JNU he must surely have read the published correspondence of Nehru and Patel which documents how Nehru wanted Patel as the “strongest pillar” of his first Cabinet. “Do consult those books again,” he added.
Several Congress leaders too jumped into the fray, including Shashi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh. The latter tweeted images of Nehru’s letter to Mountbatten in which Patel’s name was listed.
In her book, The Unsung Architect of Modern India Narayani Basu states that Nehru had excluded Patel from the list of people he had chosen for the first Cabinet. Basu cites an interview which Menon had given to H.V. Hodson in which he confirmed the claim.
According to the biography, it was only after Menon approached India’s last viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, and warned him about the “war of succession” that Nehru’s decision would spark, that Patel’s name was included.
On Wednesday, Jairam Ramesh had sparked another controversy saying India’s first External Affairs Minister Krishna Menon had strongly advised Nehru against the formation of Kerala state saying that it would give rise to Left-oriented government.