Just out of jail, in 1931, at the Karachi session of the Indian National Congress, Patel was elected President

'I am conscious' he said in the course of his speech at the session, 'that your choice of me as the first servant of the nation is not so much for the little I might have done, but a recognition of the amazing sacrifices Gujarat made last year.'

His tenure as President came at a time when the nation was angry with the execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdeo and Rajguru, three patriots who had been sentenced to death for the murder of Saunders, a police officer in Lahore. In passing a resolution in this regard, the Congress wished to maintain its stance of disassociation with political violence and force in any shape and form. For this, Gandhi and the other leaders were shouted down at the Karachi conference amidst shouts of 'Bhagat Singh Zindabad!'

In the midst of this tumult, Patel rose to address the gathering as President of the session. As was his usual style, he spoke without mincing words but addressing at the same time, all concerns involved. 'I fully empathize with the sentiments of the young men gathered here. They have a right to express their indignation at the callous execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdeo and Rajguru, which has filled the country with deep resentment. I may not be able to identify myself with their methods; nevertheless the patriotism, the sacrifice and the daring of these men command my boundless admiration.'

His speech had the desired effect and the Congress resolution was allowed to be passed. Throughout his life, Sardar was known to speak straight from his heart. His speeches were never long but they contained words that stirred men into action.

This photograph shows Sardar Patel at a Congress session with Acharya Kripalani, Shankarrao Deo and Kamkadevi Chottapadhyaya.

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