Joining debate with BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi over partition, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today quoted excerpts from Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's book to say that Sardar Patel had agreed to the idea of division of the country before Nehru and Gandhi.
"Lord Mountbatten was extremely intelligent and could read the minds of all his Indian colleagues. The moment he found (Sardar Vallabhai) Patel amenable to his idea, he put out all the charm and power of his personality to win over the Sardar.
"As soon as Sardar Patel had been convinced, Lord Mountbatten turned his attention to Jawaharlal. Jawaharlal was not at first at all willing and reacted violently against the very idea of partition, but Lord Mountbatten persisted till step by step Jawaharlal's opposition was worn down," he said quoting at length from Azad's book 'India Wins Freedom'.
Chidambaram's observation came a day after Modi accused Congress of committing the "sin" of partition and ignoring other heroes of the freedom struggle at the cost of Nehru- Gandhi family.
"Mr Prime Minister, I am aware that it is not in your hands what you should say or not say. But the country wants to know who changed the geography of India. The village in which you were born was a part of Hindustan. Today it is not. Who changed the geography. Who broke this country into pieces?" Modi had said.
Chidambaram retorted by saying, "A fair reading of the... account (provided by Azad) will show that partition was forced upon the country due to the intransigence of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten's plan to safeguard British interests."