At the urging of his friends, Patel won an election to become the sanitation commissioner of Ahmedabad in 1917. While often clashing with British officials on civic issues, he did not show any interest in politics. Upon hearing of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, he joked to the lawyer and political activist, Ganesh Vasudev Mavlankar, that “Gandhi would ask you if you know how to shift pebbles from wheat. And that is supposed to bring independence.” A subsequent meeting with Gandhi, in October 1917 brought a radical change in Patel and ushered him into the Indian freedom struggle. In September 1917, Patel had given a speech in Borsad, encouraging Indians nationwide to sign Gandhi’s petition demanding Swaraj – self-rule – from Britain. A month later, he met Gandhi for the first time at the Gujarat Political Conference in Godhra. On Gandhi’s encouragement, Patel became the secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, a public body that would become the Gujarati arm of the Indian National Congress.
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Story – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was never interested in Politics but he joined it when he met Mahatma Gandhi
Story – When Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel emerged as a hero to Gujaratis for his statewide revolt of refusing to pay taxes
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel began a village-by-village tour in the Kheda district, documenting grievances and asking villagers for their support for a statewide revolt by refusing to pay taxes. Patel emphasised the potential hardships and the need for complete unity and non-violence despite any provocation. He received an enthusiastic response from virtually every village. When the revolt was launched and tax revenue withheld, the government sent police and intimidation squads to seize property, including confiscating barn animals and whole farms. Patel organised a network of volunteers to work with individual villages, helping them hide valuables and protect themselves during raids. Thousands of activists and farmers were arrested, but Patel was not. The revolt evoked sympathy and admiration across India, including among pro-British Indian politicians. The government agreed to negotiate with Patel and decided to suspend the payment of taxes for a year, even scaling back the rate. Patel emerged as a hero to Gujaratis and was admired across India.