Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
A Friend of the Peasants
In 1918 heavy rains destroyed the crops in Gujarat. The farmers in Kaira District were particularly in distress. The Government demanded the payment of the revenue taxes to the last pie. The farmers turned to Gandhiji as their refuge.Gandhiji said, I need some one who will assume the entire responsibility for this struggle.I shall be responsible, said Vallabhbhai Patel, and assumed the leadership of the struggle. He infused the peasants with courage, saying, Why are you afraid of the English? If the people are united no government can do anything. He gave up his western clothes, and began to dress like the poor and humble peasants. He walked from village to village along rough tracks full of stones and thorns and brought about unity among the farmers. The farmers were filled with reverence and admiration for this prominent barrister from Ahmedabad who toiled for them day and night. One word from him, and they were ready to lay down their lives for him. So the government had to yield finally. The taxes were remitted. The struggle led by Patel was successful. In June 1918 the farmers celebrated their victory. They invited Gandhiji and presented him with an address.Said Gandhiji, The credit of this victory should go to Vallabhbhai Patel. You are fortunate to be led, by such a great hero.Patel said with modesty, The people of Kaira District have fought with courage and endurance. Theirs is the honor of this triumph.