Nehru’s Word: The evil of communalism
We bring you two resolutions drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru on Communalism and the victims of Partition, which show how Congress held steadfast to its own principles despite the blow of Partition
The first session of the Congress after Independence was held in Jaipur in mid-December 1948. Many important resolutions were passed to give direction to the Party and the Government in the new situation. From these we bring you two resolutions drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru on Communalism and the victims of Partition, which show how the Congress held steadfast to its own principles despite the blow of Partition and its aftermath.
Ever since its inception, the National Congress has conceived and striven for a united nation where the people of all religions and races should have equal rights and opportunities and should function together as citizens of India. It has opposed communalism and separatism which weaken the nation and come in the way of all progress and cooperative effort. Keeping this ideal in view, it has nevertheless, by stress of circumstances, and by the pressure of the dominating power at the time, accepted certain com-promises which introduced an element of communalism in the public of the country. In spite of the efforts of the Congress, communal forces, exploiting the name of religion, grew in strength and resulted not only in the partition of the country, but also in the foul assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
The terrible experiences through which the country has passed have demonstrated the evil that communalism brings in its train and have shown that the freedom of the nation, as well as of every component part of it, is imperilled by these communal and separatist tendencies. In order, therefore, to preserve the hard-won freedom of the country and for the nation to grow and prosper and enjoy the fruits of this freedom, it has become essential to put an end to the spirit of communalism which has already caused so much grievous injury.
The long past of India is evidence of the spirit of tolerance which was the basis of life and culture in this country. India has been and is a land of many religions and many races and must remain so. The freedom of India can only be based on a recognition of this richly varied life bound together by an overriding unity, and by full opportunities being given to every section ot the people for professing and practising their religion and culture. The aim of the Congress has therefore been to develop this great country as a democratic secular State which neither favours nor discriminates against any particular religion.
This Congress reiterates this objective of the Congress and declares its firm resolve not to promote communalism or the misuse of religion as a political weapon for anti-national and socially reactionary purposes. The Congress calls upon the country to make a supreme effort to restore goodwill, peace and harmony among the various communities that form the nation.
It is for this that Mahatma Gandhi laboured throughout his life and it was for this that he ultimately sacrificed his precious life. To every Indian, and more particularly to every Congressman, he has left this great legacy and example.
In order to achieve this great end, the Congress must set its own house in order and Congressmen and women must purify the organisation even at the risk of shrinkage of the number of members. Every worker of the Congress should exercise introspection and in his own personal life as well as in his corporate life, endeavour to maintain the standard which Gandhiji had set before the country.
The Victims of Partition
This Congress records its deep sorrow at the death, by internecine conflict, of vast numbers of the people of this country, belonging to every religion during the disturbances that followed the partition. The Congress extends its heartfelt sympathy to all their relatives and to all the refugees who have suffered untold misery and have become homeless and without refuge. While appreciating the work that the Central and Provincial Governments have done to give relief to and rehabilitate these refugees, the Congress trusts that every effort will be made to expedite this work, and more particularly that children and young people will be specially cared for and given opportunities of education and development.
(Resolutions drafted by Nehru and passed at the Jaipur Congress on 19 December 1948, reproduced in Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Second Series, Volume 8, pp136-7 and 135. Selected and edited by Mridula Mukherjee, former Professor of History at JNU and former Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.)