TODAY -

Relevance of Nehru today
- Part 3 -

Dr Priyadarshni M Gangte *



The legacy is seen from the time when Jawaharlal Nehru was elected to the office of Presidentship of Congress Party despite his getting support only from three Provincial Committees out of eighteen against Sardar Patel for two terms at the interference of Mahatma Gandhi in favour of Nehru who also superseded in becoming Prime Minister of India in preference to Chakravarty Rajagopalan, respectively in 1929, 1937 and 1946.

Brushing aside the majority vote, Gandhiji pleaded very strongly with the delegates of the Congress session in favour of Jawaharlal Nehru. He said "Seniors had their innings. Future struggle to be carried on by young men and women. .. Jawaharlal has all the qualities for which he deserves to be recommended.....For his bravery, determination, behaviour, honesty and patience, he is held in high esteem by the youth of this country. He has come in contact with farmers and workers. He is close to European politics. .. They (youth) would consider as an award to them if Jawaharlal is elected. And they would consider it as proof of belief of the nation in its youth.

Give them an opportunity to prove themselves worthy of this trust". Gandhiji said this in consideration of the sacrifices made by Jawaharlal's family."

The circumstances thus highlighted above have simply manifested that in the Congress set-up, there has never been any respect for majority or democracy. Another argument put forward by Gandhiji in favour of Jawaharlal was that when negotiations were going on with the British for the independence of the country, Jawaharlal would be more suitable for the office, because Nehru and the Englishmen spoke in 'common idiom'.

Durga Das wrote in his book on India from Curzon to Nehru and after that the same year, when Nehru took over as Prime Minister of Interim Government "… most of the members of Working Committee were not altogether happy.

They preferred Sardar Patel who was the "iron man with his feet firmly planted on earth", and that he would be able to deal better with Jinnah than Nehru with the firm belief that even at that late stage could ensure the solidarity and integrity of the sub-continent. It was further argued that crucial hours lay ahead and the Sardar's rugged realism, would provide a 'safe-shield'.

Durga Das asked the reactions of Gandhi on the above contention of the Congress Working Committee, and Gandhi readily agreed that Patel would have proved a better negotiator and organizer as President of the Congress Party, but added that Jawaharlal would not take the 'second place'.

Thus despite the fact that Sardar Patel had more organizational capability and administrative efficiency, Nehru was made the Prime Minister in the interim Government because he 'spoke English better than others in the Congress' and also because he was not prepared to take the 'second place'. Patel, unlike Nehru did not have Gandhi as 'Godfather'. Obviously, democracy did not have a place in the scheme of things; it was only of cosmetic value in the Congress.

It is written that Gandhiji wrote a Confidential letter dated the 15th July, 1946, to Jawaharlal Nehru on his becoming President of the Congress Working Committee 7 saying ; "You are in office, but you are not in power yet. To put you in the office was an attempt to find you in power, quicker than you would otherwise have been. Anyway that was at the back of my mind when I suggested your name for the crown of thorns. Keep it on though the head be bruised".

Jawaharlal Nehru followed the advice in letter and spirit and bound them upon his neck. However, he refused to write them upon the table of his heart, therefore, did not accept moral responsibility for the debacle in the wake of Chinese aggression in 1962, compelling V.K. Krishna Menon to be the sacrificial goat that resulted in the resignation of the latter from his Ministership.

Thus despite the fact that his head was seriously bruised and bleeding, keeping the advice of his Godfather, Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru refused to part with the crown of thorns, till he breathed his last.

(7) The Good Boatman sidelined:

Mohandas Karamchand, best known all the world over as Mahatma Gandhi of the twentieth century, is best understood not so much in words as in his actions.

His action speaks more than his word for he lived a full life of action from the time he went to South Africa to serve as a lawyer to a Muslim client to the day he was assassinated in Delhi on one cold day of January, 1948.

Many books have been written about him and many works have analysed his life and work than one can remember. Yet, it is sad to say that his memory is fast receding in the minds of his own countrymen. Therefore, it is imperative that his memory should be revived not because we are important to Gandhi but because Gandhi is important to us.

And he is important to us not because his image has been simplified as "Father of the Nation" and frozen in few statues of indifferent merit but because his life has a message. In much the same manner as Gandhi himself once said succinctly, his life was his message. The one cannot be separated from the other. And so, his message is best understood in his actions. This action-filled life has been discriminatingly described… consciously marginalized his relevance and deliberately sidelined his importance.

It was true that among his disciples was, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, a rich lawyer from Madras who gave up his practice to join the National Movement, the man with whom Gandhi had best relationship, reposed highest confidence and had 'greatest hope' on him, but in the end he turned to Jawaharlal Nehru.

In early 1942, he told the All India Congress Committee, "I have said for some years and say it now, that not Rajaji, not Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, but Jawaharlal Nehru will be my successor. You cannot divide water by repeatedly striking it with a stick. It is just as difficult to divide us. … When, I am gone, he will speak my language…"

Rajmohan Gandhi recounted that when Nehru heard this, he, who till then was sitting cross-legged on the floor with a bolster behind his back "sprang from his seat and sat on top of his bolster". To complete the record, it must be stated that after Gandhi was gone, Nehru forgot to speak his Master's language. Gandhi was forgotten in deeds and remembered in words.


To be continued ......


* Dr Priyadarshni M Gangte wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on December 11 2019.



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