Monday, September 1, 2014

The Nehru's and The Gandhis -PIV


It must be Jawahar Lal’s voracious reading habits and keen interest in world politics which had molded him into a Statesman with a cosmopolitan outlook. He was a die-hard rationalist all through his life and had never, never compromised on this aspect till his death. Yes, that is conviction. Here is a conversation between Nehru and Kastur Ba.

 “God preserve you”- told Ba affectionately when she came to know that Nehru’s arrest was in the offing. “Where is he Ba? He seems to be permanently asleep,” was his answer.

-He remained a firm atheist to the end, regarding religious communalism as a cancer that needed to be erased from India.

How many people had to stake their fortunes and lives during the independence struggle? When India gained independence, Nehru was 57. He had to spend long, long years of his life and youth in British prison.

-He constantly thought of what prison life was doing to friendships and family life and wondered how they would all see each other when he was finally released.

In an epilogue to his autobiography, he wrote about his years in prison thus-

“The years I have spent in prison! Sitting alone, wrapped in my thoughts, how many seasons I have seen go by, following one another into oblivion!...How many yesterdays of my youth lie buried here; and sometimes I see the ghosts of these dead yesterdays rise up, bringing poignant memories, and whispering to me, ’was it worthwhile?’

It seems Nehru was very much indecisive in many cases as Subhash Bose had once remarked.

-“When a crisis comes, you often do not succeed in making up your mind one way or the other-with the result that to the public you appear as if you are riding two horses.“
Nehru himself refused to nominate a successor as he felt it was none of his business.

-He pointed to the example Britain of the 1950’s when Churchill had appointed Eden as the ‘crown prince’ long before he retired. Eden, said Nehru, was one of the worst PM’s Britain had ever had in its long history.

Was Nehru keen on a dynastical rule? Just like the author, I believe ‘No’, from what I have read. 

In 1957 Indira was elected to the Central Election Committee, getting more votes than Nehru himself and after two years she was elected President of the Congress party. “I’m sure my father didn’t like it” was Indira’s response. But Nehru’s opposite faction headed by Morarji Desai assumed Nehru had pulled strings for Indira.

-Whatever the truth, one thing is clear. Neither side was happy at the notion that a dynasty was being formed.

-“Not while I am Prime Minsiter“-Nehru’s response when certain ministers and numerous sycophants wanted Indira to be a member of Government.

Kamaraj and four others- Syndicate- started discussing about a successor to Nehru. He was well aware of it and was contemptuous towards this powerful combination of regional power-brokers. As the author doubts,” would a man hell-bent on obtaining succession for his daughter, as his enemies alleged, have treated the kingmakers of the future in such a cavalier fashion ?” No, never.
If he really wished Indira to be his successor, “the evidence would not have been lacking,” as correctly opined by the author.

Nehru and Congress Party: He had observed that the congress sessions were nothing more than a social gathering of like-minded friends- “A fashionable society! Spare-time amusement for armchair politicians!” - was what he remarked to his father after attending the 1912 session of congress. 

-In reality, Nehru was deeply concerned at the faction-fighting and corruption that began to characterize the Congress Party during the last few years of his life. Many leaders were totally obsessed with positions and power.

Nehru the historian: It was during 1925 that the archaeologists discovered the remnants of a very old pre-Vedic civilization at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro (Mound of the Dead) while the British were constructing the Lahore to Multan railway line.
-Nehru stood silently on a mound near Mohenjo-Daro ad studied the ruins. 
-The long and complex evolution of India had started during Millennium BC. It had been colored by repeated conquests and displacements which had formed the variegated landscape of the country. Was this history of strife last coming to an end? Nehru did not stop about thinking about these matters. Later, in prison for the last time, he gave all these, a shape in his Discovery of India.

Nehru and Communalism:

 -and he said unequivocally that communalism, be it Hindu or Muslim, was vice exploited by perverted minds:

-The British, of course made use of communal polarisations, and even helped to provoke them, but these divisions, alias had deeper roots.

-Hindus of various castes, denominations and classes represented an overwhelming majority in India(1936). Their religious leaders clearly stated that majority rule meant Hindu rule, something that had not existed in the subcontinent for several centuries.
According to the author, Nehru was shocked by the communalist moves (More details under head Jinnah) by Jinnah and his Muslim league and he became increasingly hostile to the league. He had to finally accept the fact the league’s influence could not be defeated as long as Congress was controlled by men like Vallabhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad and G.D.Birla. 

However in the 1937 elections, 90% of the Muslim Pathans of the North West frontier province chose to vote for Gandhi and not the league! “In the aftermath of these victories, Nehru sat back, for a while, and rejoiced.” Me too rejoiced while going through this!

-“I will not tolerate Muslims being slaughtered as if they were animals”-Nehru to his Home Minister Vallabhai Patel, “who was a traditional Hindu, susceptible to communalism, hostile to Nehru, and a protégé of Gandhi.” Gandhiji also reprimanded Patel against this in strong language.

Nehru on Bhagat Singh after visiting him in prison- “Bhagat Singh had an attractive, intellectual face, remarkably calm and peaceful. There seemed to be no anger in it.” Any mention about the patriot still fills my eyes with tears. For those who know Malayalam just go through this link, a poem on him which will make you weep!

Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose: -

 -What interested Nehru was that Bose had succeeded in uniting the Indians: the INA had included Muslims, Sikhs ad the Hindus who had forgotten their religious differences..... when the British authorities decide to try the INA men for high treason, Nehru became a lawyer again and defended them in open court.....

-Bose was killed in a plane crash in 1945....Jawarlal had not ageed with Bose, but he never doubted his patriotism. He had regarded Bose as childish, very impressionable, but also deeply sensitive and burning with a nationalist fervour.he opposed all attempts to blacken his name and , in this,  was supported by Gandhi and Abul Kalam Azad.

Nehru and Patel:-There were a number of quarrels between him and Vallabhai Patel, the veteran power broker, leader of the Congress right and not averse to using communalism when it suited to his interests.” 

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