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 andbrought 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."