India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar got into a Twitter spat with historian Ramachandra Guha on Thursday, on whether or not Sardar Vallabhai Patel had ever been excluded from Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet.
Jaishankar attended the launch of Narayani Basu’s biography VP Menon : The Unsung Architect of Modern India on Wednesday and said he learnt from the book that “Nehru did not want Patel in the Cabinet in 1947 and omitted him from the initial Cabinet list.”
Guha on Thursday corrected Jaishankar’s statement, calling it a “myth” and accused him promoting “fake news”.
Guha quoted Srinath Raghavan’s recent article in The Printtitled ‘Nehru never excluded Patel from cabinet list. Louis Mountbatten and V.P. Menon got it wrong’.
In his article, Raghavan, a Professor of International Relations and History at Ashoka University and a senior fellow at Carnegie India, delineates the history of this claim.
He then goes on to quote the letters Nehru and Patel wrote to each regarding the latter’s inclusion in the cabinet.
He also talks about why Viceroy Louis Mountbatten and V.P. Menon’s claims to the opposite effect were not reliable.
Jaishankar, however, did not back down and passive aggressively asked Guha to read a book.
Guha then clapped back with a photo of the letter Nehru wrote to Patel inviting him to join the cabinet.
Jaishankar has yet to respond to this.
Update: Guha has now asked Jaishankar to consult books he read during his Ph.D at JNU.