Features Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | February 15, 2015 | 9.30 PM IST “We already have too many mahatmas,” was Vallabhbhai Patel’s reaction when people started referring to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as the Mahatma soon after his return to India in 1915. Six years younger than Gandhi, Vallabhbhai, around this time, had just started to enjoy his life as a London-educated barrister. He was very content with what he had gained in life. He rose to fame and his fees rose to a point where it became almost the highest any lawyer had charged in Ahmedabad. Vallabhbhai rented a huge house in Ahmedabad, across the street on the opposite side was the Gujarat Club, which he often visited and played bridge. G.V. Mavlankar, who would go on to become independent India’s first Speaker, was his neighbor and the two were good friends. Members of the Club, excited about hearing Gandhi’s ashram, went to Kochrab to see what it really was. Vallabhbhai did not go. On their return they discussed what all they had seen and Patel laughed it off with ridicule. In 1916, following an invitation from the members, Gandhi reached the Club. As soon as Mavlankar saw Gandhi, he got up in respect; while Patel continued playing bridge. Patel: Mavlankar, where are you going? Why have you got up? Mavlankar: Look, here is Gandhi coming. Patel: So what? You’ll learn more if you watch our game. I can tell you what he’ll say. He will ask you if you know how to sift pebbles from wheat. And that is supposed to bring independence. This Patel, who had ridiculed Gandhi, soon came under the Mahatma’s spell after seeing the way in which the Champaran movement was conducted. Gandhi too saw in Patel a man who could do what was needed to be done. Said Gandhi about Patel: “The more I came to know him, the more I realized that I must secure his help.”  (Quotes and picture taken from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's biography Patel: A Life, written by Mr. Rajmohan Gandhi) Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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