Both Nehru and Patel were the need of hour in 1947 – 48
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking on Budget made one of grievance that Congress did not make Patel as the Prime Minister. Unfortunately no one had advised Modi that the Nehru was Gandhi Ji choice. He had equal respect for both Nehru and Patel.
There was no rivalry between Nehru and Patel as both realized that India can only prosper if there was good relation and mutual respect for each other. Patel even when he could muster majority in parliament did not try to supplant Nehru. Let me give a few instances where, even when they differed on State Policy, Nehru and Patel not only accepted the others point of view, showed respect to each other.
In 1947 Maharaja J & K after tribal attack from Pakistan realized that it was no longer possible to remain Independent. So he sent his Prime Minister Justice Mahajan with a letter to Pt. Nehru of acceding of J & K to India so that military assistance could be sent to J & K.
Mahajan was finding difficult to convince Nehru about immediate acceptance of accession of Kashmir, though Patel agreed with Mahajan. Heated debate was going but Nehru still showing reluctance. At this time Sheikh Abdullah who was listening to this debate came out from the adjacent room to tell Nehru to accept the view of Patel and Mahajan. It was in these circumstances of mutual respect for each other that accession of J & K to India took peace.
Another important event concerned the accession of Hyderabad. It is well known that while Patel was for taking strong action against Nizam of Hyderabad who was wanting to remain Independent and not accede to India (even when his boundaries had no direct linkage with Pakistan). Nehru was still against Military action, but finding that the conditions would become irredeemable Patel decided on his own to send security forces.
While the security forces were moving in, Nehru came to know about it and telephoned N.V. Gadgil, Minister of State for Home and told him that he immediately wants to talk to Patel about this action. Gadgil then phoned Patel and told him about what Nehru had said. Patel naturally sensed that Nehru would want to stop action against Nizam. So he told Gadgil that he should tell Nehru that he has not been able to contact Patel. The result was that security forces moved, in and Nizam immediately signed the latter of accession to India.
Nizam realized and understood the working of Nehru and Patel. This is shown by the fact that soon after Nehru went to Hyderabad Nizam did not show the courtesy of receiving him at the airport. But soon after Patel went to Hyderabad he realized the consequence of repeating his foolishness and quietly went to Airport to receive Patel, which was the correct protocol.