Gained in translation? Patel manâ€™s tale - Minister Tewari can check â€˜communalistâ€™ account when English version of MKKâ€™s book comes out soon (From left) Nair with Nehru, B.C. Roy, V.K. Krishna Menon and Indira Gandhi at the International Kathakali Festival in Delhi Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 8: L.K. Advaniâ€™s reference to a book that says Jawaharlal Nehru once accused Vallabhbhai Patel of being a â€œcommunalistâ€ at a cabinet meeting has brought rejoinders from the Congress. Union minister Manish Tewari on Thursday cited dates to challenge the claim by the late author, civil servant Meppally Keshava Pillai Krishnankutty Nair or MKK, whom Nehru had appointed head of the Bhilai Steel Plant in the 1950s to speed up its commissioning. Tewari tweeted that MKK was born in 1930 and joined the IAS in 1950 while the cabinet meeting where Nehru is said to have made the comment took place in 1948. â€œThe facts donâ€™t add up and even if another Nair was part of the IAS, itâ€™s questionable whether he would be privy to cabinet discussions,â€ Tewari wrote. However, the book, Aarodum Paribhavamillathe â€”Oru Kalakhattathinte Katha (With Ill Will To None â€” The Story of an Era), gives MKKâ€™s date of birth as December 29, 1920, and says he joined the IAS in 1949 after passing the exam in 1948. It also narrates how MKK, a Thiruvananthapuram native, came to know Patel well during his stint at the Secunderabad Ordnance Depot from 1943. MKK vouches that much of the information on the purported Nehru-Patel spat included what he knew himself and what he had heard from V.P. Menon, secretary in the ministry of states headed by Patel. â€œThe two (MKK and Menon) had served in Delhi during the same period and the Malayali camaraderie had blossomed into a close friendship,â€ said Gopakumaran Nair, whose English translation of MKKâ€™s book is to come out soon. The family of MKK, who the book says enjoyed the support of both Nehru and Patel, claim the controversy is uncalled for. Gopinath Krishnan, the eldest of MKKâ€™s three sons, told The Telegraph: â€œThe information has been in the public domain for more than a quarter century and all this furore is needless.â€ The book is a compilation of MKKâ€™s articles serialised in the Malayalam weekly Kala Kaumudi. It was published in 1987, the year MKK died, said Krishnan, a former chief engineer with the state-run electronics firm Keltron. He feels his fatherâ€™s decision to publish the book only in Malayalam may have limited its reach, and was happy that an English translation was in the offing. Gopakumaran, the translator and a former employee of the Kochi-based PSU, Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (Fact), said MKK sounded genuine throughout the book. â€œThe style is lucid and genuine. He has described the events exactly as he experienced them. He has not tried to sensationalise things even a bit for the sake of â€˜good copyâ€™ or to make a hero out of himself,â€ said Gopakumaran, who had joined Fact as an executive trainee in 1969 when MKK was its managing director. The comments on the purported Patel-Nehru spat appear in Chapters 19 and 20 where MKK explains the hostile designs of the Nizam of Hyderabad. He says the Nizam and some British officers were working to thwart any attempt by the Indian government to take the state over. It was MKKâ€™s job that had made him a party to the accession story. Starting off as a divisional accountant in the princely state of Travancore in 1941, MKK joined the army as a civilian gazetted officer and was posted as planning officer at the Secunderabad Ordnance Depot in 1943. This made him friendly with the Nizamâ€™s top officials and privy to much of the information surrounding the Nizam. The nationalist in MKK saw to it personally that these were brought to the notice of Patel, the then Union home minister. â€œThe information was sent through a human courier. Although father does not mention the name of the courier in the book, he identified him as one Mr Viswanathan in an article published in another Malayalam weekly in the 1980s. Viswanathan hailed from Kollam in Kerala and was junior to him in the depot,â€ Krishnan said. MKK met Patel once during a visit to Delhi. â€œPatel had the habit of taking a walk around his house at 5am. That was when I reached the house and told his security to pass on a message that I had come from Hyderabad with a very important message,â€ the book says. â€œPatel called me inside and instantly sensed that I should be the man who was sending him the information. After leaving instructions with his PA, he introduced me to daughter Maniben saying, â€˜This is our own manâ€™.â€ The author brings alive the drama that preceded the army action culminating in the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union. He narrates how V.P. Menon worked overtime and devised plans that cajoled and at times threatened the 565 princely states into falling in line. MKK recounts that Nehru, Patel and then Governor-General C. Rajagopalachari were equally concerned about the anarchy in Hyderabad. At a cabinet meeting, Patel explained the Nizamâ€™s pro-Pakistan moves and demanded the army be deployed to bring an end to the â€œreign of terrorâ€. The book says an infuriated Nehru retorted: â€œYou are a communalist. I will never support your suggestion.â€ An upset Patel walked out and relations between the two dipped to such an extent that they would rarely even talk. As the situation in Hyderabad kept worsening, Rajaji discussed matters with V.P. Menon. The next day, he summoned Nehru and Patel to his residence. That day, while VP too was on his way to Rajajiâ€™s residence, a civil service officer named Buch waved his car to stop and pushed a letter into his hands. It was a letter from the British high commissioner and conveyed Britainâ€™s displeasure at the rape and murder of a few nuns in a Hyderabad convent by the Razakar militia a few days earlier. VP handed the letter over to Rajaji. During the talks initiated by Rajaji, Nehru kept insisting he was more concerned about the international image of the country. That was when Rajaji decided to use the â€œbrahmastraâ€ and produced the British high commissionerâ€™s letter. That changed the situation and a visibly infuriated Nehru too agreed to military action, the book says. The differences between Patel and Nehru were not limited to the Hyderabad action, MKK says. Patel was also critical of Nehruâ€™s Northeast policy. â€œPatel strongly resisted Nehruâ€™s plans to bring the Northeast under the external affairs ministry, but there was no one else in the cabinet to oppose Nehru. This policy made it easier for Christian missionaries to spread the feeling among the people (of the Northeast) that they were different from Indians,â€ says MKK. He also puts some personal onus on Nehru for creating the Indian Frontier Administrative Service to choose the officials to administer the northeastern areas. MKK argues that the mode of selection was ineffective and this created a band of ill-trained officials whose lack of expertise could be blamed for the rise of separatism in the Northeast. The author also refers to two purported notes issued by Nehru after Patelâ€™s death. The notes sent to the ministry of states first reached V.P. Menon. The first note gave the instruction that the Cadillac used by Patel be returned to the external affairs ministry the very next day. The other note said that if any official wanted to attend Patelâ€™s funeral (he had died in Mumbai), they should do so at their own expense. Menon didnâ€™t tell his officials about the note and personally saw to it that those who wanted to go to Mumbai were given flight tickets at Menonâ€™s own expense. This too angered Nehru and Menon was sidelined after Patelâ€™s death, the book says. MKK says Patel was affectionate towards Menon and cites as example his reaction after Menon had a spat with a powerful Congress leader. â€œOnce, during a visit to Thiruvananthapuram, Menon was staying at the Residency building when the leader Nesamani called on him. Menon treated him to his favourite whisky. Nesamani quickly hit a high and started abusing Menon and had to be evicted by a security guardâ€¦. Nesamani subsequently wrote to Patel complaining that Menon was a drunkard and had insulted him,â€ the book says. â€œMenon had not returned to Delhi this time. On receiving the complaint, Patel summoned his personal secretary, V. Sankar, and asked him if Menon had the habit of drinking. Sankar replied in the affirmative, to which Patel wanted to know Menonâ€™s brand. â€˜Menon drinks only whisky,â€™ said Sankar to which pat came Patelâ€™s reply: â€˜Then you should advise all secretaries that they should take Scotch whisky hereafterâ€™.â€ Gopakumaran says that although MKK speaks of the Nehru-Patel spat, the book makes it clear that the author had great respect for Nehru who had asked him to head the Bhilai Steel Plant at a time its construction appeared to be dragging. The India-Russia deal to build the plant was inked in February 1955, but when the construction was getting delayed, then Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev shot off a harsh letter to Nehru. The Indian Prime Minister summoned his industries minister, T.T. Krishnamachari. â€œTTK recommended my name and Nehru was very happy with it,â€ MKK says. He gleefully recalls that Nehru summoned him to his office and promised him all help to get Bhilai running at the earliest. MKK says the commissioning of the plant in 1959 was one of the happiest moments in his life. In 1959, MKK moved to Fact where he continued as managing director till 1971 after which he was elevated as joint secretary in the Planning Commission. His last years were harrowing as the CBI registered cases of abuse of power and disproportionate assets against him in 1974. However, a court exonerated him in 1983 and pulled up the CBI for concocting evidence. Gained in translation? Patel manâ€™s tale ********************************************************* An interesting account of the past. The unfortunate part is that the Congress is in a blue funk with the Polls showing disastrous result for the Congress, coupled by the mammoth rallies being pulled in by Modi, reinforced by their conscience that they have brought the Nation to its knees with poor governance and total brigandry and broad daylight dacoity! Therefore, they are losing their balance and blabbering incoherently and without facts as RPN Singh did about the NDA not providing Rajiv Gandhi SPG protection and so he was assassinated, when in actuality there was no NDA Govt, but that of Chandrasehkhar supported by the Congress. The situation is so bad that even Congress friendly media like Telegraph are no longer hesitating or sugarcoating the Congress malgovernance or their unending faux pas. It is time that these Congress sycophants get hold of themselves and the fact or else they will lose further credibility and sink into greater despair and disillusionment. They require to pull up their boot straps.