Patel, Vallabhbhai

Patel, Vallabhbhai vŭl˝ləb-bä´ē pətĕl´ [key], 1875–1950, Indian political leader. He was admitted (1913) to the bar in England and set up a lucrative practice in India. In 1915 he met Mohandas Gandhi and within a short time became one of his closest associates, a staunch nationalist and a supporter of the Indian National Congress. A talented organizer, he successfully directed the civil-disobedience campaigns of the 1920s and 30s; several times he suffered imprisonment. He was mayor of Ahmedabad (1924–28) and was elected (1931) president of the Indian National Congress. In 1942 he was imprisoned, with other Congress leaders, for refusing to support the British war effort in World War II. After his release (1945), he initiated a purge of Communists (who had supported the war) from the Congress. Patel played an important role in the negotiations that led to independence and the partition of the subcontinent into the two states of India and Pakistan. In 1947 he was made deputy prime minister of India and minister of home affairs, minister of information, and minister of states. Holding these offices until his death, he effected the complex and difficult feat of integrating the many princely states into the new Indian political structure.

See his Correspondence, 1945–50, ed. by D. Das (Vol. I, 1971); biographies by N. D. Parikh (tr., 2 vol., 1953–56) and L. N. Sarin (1972).

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