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Unknown Maniben & an ungrateful Country

Unknown Maniben & an ungrateful Country
September 24
14:09 2021

Madhu Patel

Maniben Patel was Sardar’s only daughter. When only 16 she switched to Khadi and worked in Gandhi Ashram! When 17 she put all her gold bangles, earrings Gold Wrist Watch and all ornaments & jewelries in a bundle of cloth and obtaining her Father’s nod, deposited them in Gandhi Ashram, for the cause of freedom.

All the garments Sardar used to wear after 1921 were woven out of the yarn made by Maniben. Unlike Nehru’s daughter Indira, Maniben was a freedom fighter, who actively participated in the non-cooperation movement. In 1928, in the Bardoli Satyagraha she helped out Satyagrahis in Camps. She was arrested and Jailed in 1930 in the Salt Satyagraha! Thereafter, she was arrested and jailed on several occasions.

Defying ban in Bardoli, arrested in 1932 , re-arrested for defying ban in Kheda and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, for arousing people in villages of Rajkot arrested in 1938! Gandhiji complimented the girl that he had not seen another daughter like Maniben! Under Gandhiji’s selective disobedience, Maniben was arrested in 1940 and was released from Belgaum jail in May 1941. When she again wanted to court arrest Gandhiji had prevented this frail girl for ill health!

She got arrested during Quit India 1942 with Kasturba Gandhi and released in March 1944 and again re-arrested in May 1944 in Bardoli and was sent to Surat Jail & then to Yervada jail! She didn’t marry and served her father till Sardar Died in 1950.

Here is a shocking episode relating to Maniben based on various sources, specifically Dr Kurien’s autobiography: ‘I too had a dream’! Sardar Patel had no bank balance or property! Even though he had substantial earnings as a very Successful Lawyer, he gave up everything after plunging into the Freedom movement. He used to say: THOSE IN POLITICS SHOULD NOT HOLD PROPERTY, AND I HOLD NONE!

When Sardar died, he kept nothing for his daughter. With Sardar no more she had to vacate the house! With no roof over her head and no money Maniben had to fend for herself!

Obeying Sardar’s parting instruction, Maniben had gone to Nehru to hand over a bag and a book!

Dutifully, she took an appointment with PM Nehru, she handed over the bag and the book to Nehru in person. The book was an Account Book! The bag contained rupees Thirty Five Lakhs! (It was 1950). After delivering both to Nehru, she waited a while! Nehru did not thank her! Nehru didn’t enquire what she would do! Nehru didn’t ask where she would stay! Nehru didn’t ask if she had any money on her! Nehru didn’t ask if she was in need of any assistance or help! Nehru didn’t ask, if he could do anything for her! Nehru, not to speak of sympathy, had shown absolutely no interest in her! For him, after receiving the huge sum of Rupees 35 lakhs Maniben didn’t exist!

Maniben went back to Ahmedabad to stay with a cousin the rest of her life, forgotten by an Ungrateful Country!

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