The series of letters between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru in May 1950 exposes that Nehru and his family members used National Herald (NH) as a tool for collecting money for awarding government contracts, even from undesirable elements also. Five such letters from the book – Sardar Patel’s Correspondence shows that Nehru was warned by Patel from accepting money rampantly by misusing the government machinery.
On May 5, 1950, Patel warned Nehru about NH, saying it accepted money of more than Rs.75,000 from two undesirable persons belong to Himalayan Airways, which illegally bagged contract for night air mail service from government, over the objections of the Indian Air Force. In that letter the Home Minister Patel cautioned the Prime Minister that NH also accepted money from one dubious businessman Akhani for the night mail contracts for his flight company.
Patel said that Akhani also collected money from “maneuvering” firms like Tatas and the Air Services of India. Akhani was then facing cheating charges in many courts for defrauding banks. Patel also cautioned Nehru about Union Minister Ahmed Kidwai was misusing office and collecting money for National Herald from Lucknow based dubious businessmen like JP Srivastava.
That day itself Nehru replied to Patel in a wishy-washy manner, pacifying Patel saying that he had asked his son-in-law and General Manager of National Herald, Feroze Gandhi to inquire about the illegal money collection. Seeing Nehru’s attitude Patel shot back next day on May 6, rebutting his claims. The Home Minister reiterated to Prime Minister, urged him to desist the practice of money collection in the name of National Herald from dubious persons for granting contracts from Government. All the five letters between Patel and Nehru are published at the end of this article, exposing the frauds in fund collection for the National Herald by Nehru family.
…Patel showed displeasure about Nehru protecting such dubious payments and reiterated that as Home Minister, he has found the disingenuity of such payments and persons associating with NH funding troubling.
Nehru replied back on May 6 trying to calm him, while not answering his specific findings of illegal funding. At one point Nehru claimed that for the past three years he has not had any links with National Herald and Feroze Gandhi and one Mridula is entrusted with raising funds for the newspaper. On some cases, Nehru admitted that mistakes happened.
Seeing Nehru’s style of protecting the fund collectors, Patel wrote the last letter on May 10, 1950. In his letter, Patel showed displeasure about Nehru protecting such dubious payments and reiterated that as Home Minister, he has found the disingenuity of such payments and persons associating with NH funding troubling.
Here is the correspondence between Patel and Nehru on NH: