Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the key figures of the Indian freedom struggle. The Iron Man of India was responsible for unifying the 562 princely states to create a united country.
This Independence Day, let's look at how Patel managed to integrate the princely states.
As the Home Minister, Patel was tasked by Jawahar Lal Nehru to integrate the princely states. With the help of VP Menon, Patel drafted an instrument of accession to be signed by the rulers.
By signing the instrument, the princely states agreed to hand over control of defence, foreign affairs, and communications to the Union government.
Patel also introduced the idea of ‘privy purses,’ making payments to the royal families in lieu of their joining India. Some states were still hesitant to join India.
When the Nizam of Hyderabad was contemplating either remaining independent or joining Pakistan, Patel sent a contingent of troops into the state to support the freedom struggle going on in the state against the Nizam. Within four days, India had control of Hyderabad.
The Prince of Jodhpur wanted to join Pakistan. When Patel got wind of the situation, he immediately contacted him, offering several benefits to get the Prince to accede to India.
The Nawab of Junagadh had accepted Pakistan's offer. As the locals revolted against the Nawab, he fled to Karachi. Patel then requested Pakistan to allow organising a plebiscite in Junagadh. He later sent troops to force the annexation of its three principalities. The Dewan of Junagadh was forced to accede to India. A plebiscite was held, where 91 percent of the population voted to remain in India.
The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, was reluctant to join either India or Pakistan. When armed tribesmen from Pakistan entered Kashmir, the Maharaja appealed to India for help. Patel and Nehru agreed to send in help if Singh signed the instrument of accession. Thus, Kashmir was included in the Union of India.