A verbal duel ensued between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and historian Ramachandra Guha on Twitter on Thursday (February 13), after the former tweeted that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did not want Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his initial cabinet.
Referring to VP Menon: The Unsung Architect of modern India, a biography of civil servant and Patel’s aide VP Menon, which claims that a deliberate attempt was made to wipe out the memory of the leader, Jaishankar, who released the book, said writing of the political history of the past needs an honest treatment.
“Learnt from the book that Nehru did not want Patel in Cabinet in 1947 and omitted him from the initial Cabinet list. Clearly, a subject for much debate. Note that the author stood her ground on this revelation,” Jaishankar tweeted.
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Menon is known for his proactive role in the integration of the princely states into the Indian Union. The biography has been written by his great-granddaughter Narayani Basu.
While Jaishankar’s tweet invited both criticism and claps on Twitter, historian Ramachandra Guha replied to the thread, telling the minister that the notion of Patel being ignored by Nehru, was a myth which has been countered by academic Srinath Raghavan in an article in The Print.
“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 tweeted.
To this Jaishankar retorted by saying that he reads books too, and “strongly recommended” Guha to read the recently released book.
Some Foreign Ministers do read books. May be a good habit for some Professors too. In that case, strongly recommend the one I released yesterday. https://t.co/d2Iq4jafsR
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) February 13, 2020
Guha went ahead to post a letter of Jawaharlal Nehru to Vallabhbhai Patel, dated August 1, 1947, in which Nehru, inviting Patel to join the cabinet, called him its “strongest pillar”.
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? pic.twitter.com/N6m1mOr7SF
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) February 13, 2020
“Sir, since you have a PhD from JNU, you must surely have read more books than me. Among them must have been 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,” Guha tweeted.