But Gandhi's decision proved too costly for the nation.
First of all, Gandhi introduced the concept of forced decisions by the so-called ‘high-commands' that usually means overruling state units. This practice, now being followed across the political spectrum, has negated the very concept of innner party democracy. Nehru's follies on Kashmir and China proved beyond doubt the fact that Gandhi committed a mistake in backing Nehru by showing utter disregard to overwhelming support from the majority of PCCs for Sardar Patel.
Even two known critics of Sardar Patel conceded the point that Gandhi's decision to chose Nehru over Patel was erroneous.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad confessed in his autobiography that was published posthumously in 1959, “It was a mistake on my part that I did not support Sardar Patel. We differed on many issues but I am convinced that if he had succeeded me as Congress President he would have seen that the Cabinet Mission Plan was successfully implemented. He would have never committed the mistake of Jawaharlal which gave Mr. Jinnah an opportunity of sabotaging the Plan. I can never forgive myself when I think that if I had not committed these mistakes, perhaps the history of the last ten years would have been different.”
Similarly, C Rajgopalachary who blamed Sardar Patel for depriving him of the first presidentship of independent India, wrote, “Undoubtedly it would have been better if Nehru had been asked to be the Foreign Minister and Patel made the Prime Minister. I too fell into the error of believing that Jawaharlal was the more enlightened person of the two… A myth had grown about Patel that he would be harsh towards Muslims. This was a wrong notion but it was the prevailing prejudice.”
But questions can be raised over Sardar Patel's surrender as well.
Who was he more loyal to? To an individual, to an organization or to his motherland? When he was convinced that Nehru was not fit enough to give the much-needed guidance that a nascent country so desperately wanted, why did he not object even once to the foisting of Nehru as India's first Prime Minister?
History has proved it beyond doubt that had Patel been the PM in place of Nehru, the country would not have faced the humiliation of 1962 war.
Days before his death, Patel had written a letter to Nehru warning him about China's nefarious designs but Nehru didn't pay any attention to that letter. Even Kashmir would not have become a thorn in the flesh for India, had Patel and not Nehru been the first prime minister of India.