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Shankardass, Rani Dhavan (1985) Vallabhbhai Patel: His Role and Style in Indian Politics 1928-1947. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study of Vallabhbhai Patel's role and style in Indian politics attempts to show how mobilisation of men and materials was achieved by exclusively political means for the attainment of conservative goals and for the prevention of any radical changes. This was done primarily at Patel's instance in the face of much opposition from many forces, particularly the socialists who sought a more comprehensive programme for a wider section of society. Patel's qualifications for this job lay in his background, his personality and his affinity with certain regions (Chapter I). Several experiments in controlled mobilisation culminating in the Bardoli Satyagraha showed the political effectiveness of Patel's version of Gandhi's nationalist scheme (Chapter II). The plan of nourishing the roots rather than spreading the branches greatly strengthened the Congress organisation and helped Patel in steering Congress party policy in the direction of conservative goals (Chapter III). Patel and Gandhi's mutual reliance on each other, and Gandhi's granting Patel a free hand in political tactics, gave much political strength to the Gandhiites in Congress. The quest for political supremacy was accompanied by efforts to exclude other political groups, and particularly the left, from political limelight (Chapter IV). There were problems in running an intense political race. Threats posed by ambitious leaders, factional infighting and conflicting goals were put down with a heavy hand and political opposition was not tolerated (Chapter V). Negative steps in some areas were accompanied by positive steps in others, such as acceptance of office in the provinces and a gradual change of Congress's policy towards the States (Chapter VI). Factors beyond Patel's control such as British imperialist policy and the accompanying political readjustments in India brought some setbacks for Congress. But, Patel was quick to recover lost ground and rivals were soon outmanoeuvred (Chapter VII). The thesis argues that Patel typifies the Indian politician par excellence, capable of taking control over all the diverse and unevenly developed aspects of Indian society by giving them a political direction, thus circumventing certain social and economic requirements which leaders with either a Marxian or a traditionally reformist vision would consider essential for development.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

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