-Dr Priyadarshni M Gangte
Contd from previous issue
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.
(8) Legacy of corruption:
The issue may be traced back to the period 1937 – 38 before independence of India in the Congress regime in the then Central Provinces and Berar, now called Madhya Pradesh, when Dr. N. B. Khare was the Chief Minister (then called Prime Minister), he was forced to quit the office by the Congress High Command allegedly for asking action against a couple of his corrupt Ministers.
On being out of office, Khare published some letters from High Command members recommending appointments to some top positions, like Advocate General of the State. Later, after independence, while he was a Member of Lok Sabha in 1952-55, in reply to charges of rampant corruption in early fifties, Nehru stated that there was more corruption in the British time than in the free India Congress regime. Reacting to it, Khare claimed that as member of Viceroy’s Advisory Council in 1943-46, he knew how the corrupt were pulled up quickly in British times, contrary to the lenient view of Nehru. He was followed by another Member of the Parliament, Dr. Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, the younger brother of Sarojini Naidu, composing a couplet, recited as follows:
The expenditure on dams
is souring like rockets
It does not irrigate the lands,
it irrigates the pockets.
In this context, it is pertinent to note of the serious concern of Gandhiji about the complaints received on rampant corruptions soon after independence as highlighted by Durga Das, the former Editor of Hindustan Times, in his book of personal reminiscences of 50 years of journalistic career, titled, India: From Curzon to Nehru as follows: “But it was not only the communal situation that troubled Gandhi in those months following independence. He was also deeply concerned about the rot that was setting into the Congress Party. He also received information that some Congress legislators were taking money from businessmen to get them licences, that they were indulging in black-marketing and subverting the judiciary and intimidating top officials to secure transfers and promotions for their protégés in the administration. Gandhi thought of a remedy for this alarming state of affairs …”
Earlier to this, Saratchandra Bose, elder brother of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose complained of the corruption in Delhi even during interim Government of 1946. Durga Das continued to state that since the general election of 1952 Nehru started subverting the election processes by exploiting the State apparatus for the election campaign. The AIR blared out his election speeches million fold to drawn his opponent’s voices as cries in wilderness. In any case, as Rajaji said, corruption like water flows from top to bottom. Verily, the system has become a ‘Thieves’ Kitchen. The dynastic dispensation has reduced Indian democracy to a Kloptocracy – rule by compulsive thieves. And Gandhiji is no less responsible for this state of affairs. Gandhi knew well that Nehru abhorred tenets of Gandhian austerity, and personal probity, and how he himself injected massive doses of hypocracy in public life through tattered marks of truth and non-violence.
(9) Kashmir – the Legacy of personal likes and dislikes :
August 15, 1947 was a historic day. On this day, partition of India on communal lines became a ‘fait accompli’ and a truncated India got freedom. At this point of time, Kashmir was under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh. He was in a dilemma as to whether should he cede the State to India or Pakistan11. Therefore, he did not accede to either of them, though he was inclined towards India. And as for Shiekh Abdullah and his National Conference Party, he wanted that the Dogra Maharaja should quit Kashmir so that he might be in control of the Kashmir Valley in 1946 before the British left for good for which he landed himself in Jail. As against it, Pandit Ram Chander Kak, the Prime Minister of the Maharaja wanted the State to remain as sovereign State for which he sought the assistance of Sardar Patel and also requested both Pakistan and India for Stand-Still Agreements to gain time, which was readily accepted by Pakistan. On the other hand, while all the Princely States of India were given to Sardar Patel as Home Minister to deal with, Nehru kept Jammu and Kashmir under his charge. Nehru had a soft corner for Shiekh Abdullah and wanted him to be released from Jail and the power transferred to him as a pre-condition for acceptance of accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. The Maharaja was not agreeable to it.
Thus, the issue relating to accession of Jammu and Kashmir either to India or Pakistan was entangled into multiple issues of action and reaction that were associated with inevitable result of ‘Indo-Pak tension’, resulting in Indo-Pak War of 1947, 1955 and 1971. And without an inkling it must be said that the IndoPak tension will persist till such time as Pakistan exists that will thus remain a Nehru Legacy as constant reminder of his being relevant so long as India exists. Because, instead of learning from experience and history, Nehru allowed his personal likes and dislikes and his idealistic imagination to run riot, particularly in regard to Kashmir.
(To be contd)