This is why those who engage in mud-slinging at Nehru are political pygmies

Nehru refused to form a government with Muslim league. But Hindu Mahasabha had no such qualm, reminds Raju Parulekar. Nehru differed with Netaji but the latter still named a INA battalion after him

This is why those who engage in mud-slinging at Nehru are political pygmies

Raju Parulekar

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, a right-wing extremist and a Hindu zealot. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had to shoulder the responsibility of the entire nation. When Pandit Nehru became the only undisputed leader of post-Gandhi India, the Constitution of India was yet to be formed. Complex and challenging problems faced the country. The country, once rich and an ancient culture, was in a state of extreme poverty and starvation. India was still a stranger to the modern machine age. It was divided by culture, caste, languages and princely states before the British came to India. During their one and a half century long rule, the British had made those problems even more complicated. The Hindu-Muslim feuds were created by the British in their own interest by holding the hands of Indian reactionary leaders and colonists.

Gandhiji was no longer alive. Nehru's colleagues were devoted patriots but they lacked Nehru’s exposure to the world and his popularity. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru could well have turned into a dictator with all the powers vested in him. But he chose to be otherwise.

Three factors had a profound influence on Nehru. First, Nehru was proud of the ancient Indian culture. This is clearly seen in his book 'Discovery of India'. In fact, Nehru's account of India's ancient greatness shows that no matter how much Marxism had influenced the world and Nehru, Nehru would not allow India to follow Marxism.

Another influence on Nehru was the complex personality of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was a very modern, but also a devout Vaishnava Hindu. While his views were occasionally unscientific, he gave young leaders in the Congress, like Nehru and Subhash Bose, the freedom to act on their own. Gandhi's truthfulness, purity of means, pure Indianness and simplicity had a lasting impact on Nehru's life. Pride and hypocrisy had no place in it.

The third important influence on Nehru was decisive. It was the scientific approach. Nehru was taught science at an early age and studied physics at Cambridge. Later, after the rise of Marxism, Nehru was fascinated by Marxism. Marxism's logical interpretation of the structure, origin and development of human society impressed him.

Nehru had gone to Russia in 1927. Religion had no place there in its political life and the process of rapid economic progress of the country through the Industrial Revolution was underway in Soviet Russia. Nehru wrote a balanced commentary on Russia at the time. But Nehru did not become a Marxist. The scientific method of unravelling the mysteries of the universe fascinated him, but the influence of ancient Indian culture and traditions did not allow him to become a Marxist.

In 1933, Nehru wrote a letter to Indira Gandhi, in which he asked, "Is it really possible to solve all human life by logic as Marxism calls it?” The doubt raised by Nehru in the letter was strong. He was fascinated towards many things in Marxism but he disliked the rigidity in it.

Let India be a secular nation in history, let there be a machine age in India and let India do what is modern, from atoms to rockets, from dams to huge factories, he strongly felt. It was Nehru's dream that the Constitution of India and a Constituent Assembly be formed under the chairmanship of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. On the one hand, while India was becoming a democratic nation, at the same time, Nehru subtly worked to sow a scientific perspective in the fabric of India. Many institutions have been created from Nehru’s perspective like the modern Indian universities, nuclear projects, Bhakra Nangal and similar dams, international universities, medical institutes like AIIMS, consolidation of banks, heavy industries, and exchange of ideas of Indian students with the international community.

After the 1952 elections, the members of the right wing, mostly the feudal lords, some capitalists and those who were anti-Congress, were demoralised. That was when these political opponents decided that "If we want to root out the Congress, we must discredit Nehru.” In this, even the socialists who were once Nehru's allies started slandering him by joining hands with Godse-loving fanatical Hindutva activists.

Potrait by: Qazi Mohammad Raghib
Potrait by: Qazi Mohammad Raghib

Scientists like Bhatnagar and Homi Bhabha, world leaders like Nasser of Egypt, Marshall Tito of then Yogoslavia, President Eisenhower of the US, and thinkers like Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin and Herald Laski adored Nehru. Nehru had such a great influence of intellect that even during his lifetime it was impossible for his opponents to break it.

Nehru was known as a dreamer. But when he became the Prime Minister, he was acutely aware of India’s reality. Although he was a prominent leader of the non-aligned group in the arena of international politics, he gave a mixed face to the economy in India. With the help of the technology of the Soviet Union, he built huge government industries in different fields. In doing so, he created genuine Indian scientists and encouraged them. He followed the same policy not only in the field of science but also in the field of literature, art and cinema.

Mathematician and father of Indian Statistics Dr P.C. Mahalanobis was one of the architects of Nehru's Five-Year Plan and the idea of the Planning Commission. Dr Mahalanobis was a Stalinist. Using his knowledge, Nehru nevertheless took care that India's economy would not become Stalinist.

Nehru laid the foundation for many of the world's leading government companies (public sector units) and banks, which the Modi government is making money from today. Lacking knowledge of wealth creation, the government today is trying to sell the companies created by Nehru while discrediting him and his role in India’s history.

Before Independence, Nehru and his father Motilal Nehru were already wealthy. Being an advocate, the annual income of Motilal Nehru was enviable. But both he and Jawaharlal dedicated themselves to India’s freedom and the Congress. Nehru dedicated Anand Bhavan in Allahabad to the nation. His zeal to fight against the British government was indisputable.

His relations with his colleagues were of a very high standard. There were definite differences between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in some respects. But both Patel and Nehru had also great respect for each other. Patel thought Nehru was an ultra-democratic man.

The first statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat was erected at Godhra. Surprisingly, it was erected by Nehru while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was still alive. Speaking on the occasion, Nehru had said, “Sardar Patel is a valiant fighter in the cause of freedom and is engaged in retaining it. He has changed the map of India”.

Extremist Hindutva activists, who instigated the horrific and the worst communal rioting of this century in the same Godhra, clearly have no clue to the kind of respect and affection Nehru and Patel had for each other. There was never a power struggle between Patel and Nehru. There were only differences in their perception of reality and what needed to be done to build a great India. Nehru did not agree to Patel’s call for a permanent ban on the RSS. Many would undoubtedly say that Patel was right.

Nehru, Patel and Subhash Bose, despite the difference in their age, were comrades. Subhash babu himself said, "Nehru's power is greater than Gandhiji's. Because, Nehru has the support of the Left.” There was no power struggle between Nehru and Subhashbabu. In fact, even before Subhashbabu became the President of the Congress, Nehru was the President of the Congress party twice.

While Subhash babu decided to enlist the help of Mussolini, Hitler and the Axis powers in the fight against the British and set up the Azad Hind Fauj, he was opposed by Nehru. And yet Netaji named his battalions after Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. It was again Subhashbabu who first addressed Gandhiji as 'Father of the Nation'.

After the second world war, when members of the Indian National Army (INA) were charged with sedition and tried in the Red Fort, Nehru stood up in their defence and appeared as a lawyer. Stories of a power struggle between Bose, Gandhi, Patel and Nehru were circulated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Reshim Baug in Nagpur.

Nehru believed that secularism would make India strong. In 1937, Nehru refused to form a cabinet with the Muslim League. The Muslim League did not get as many votes as the Congress. Not all Muslims were behind the Congress, but not all Muslims were behind the League either. It was impossible for the Muslim League to garner enough support and strength for Partition without the Hindu Mahasabha, which in fact spawned and supported the two-nation theory.

After the glorious victory of the Congress in 1937, the Hindu Mahasabha formed an alliance with the Muslim League from Sindh to Bengal to gain power. Hindu Mahasabha thus provided moral support to the Muslim League, not the Congress! At the Ahmedabad (Karnavati) convention of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, Savarkar said that Hindus and Muslims constituted two nations. “India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogeneous nation, but on the contrary, there are two nations, the Hindus and the Muslims, in India.” The Muslim league latched on and adopted the resolution for division of India in 1940.

Therefore, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Muhammad Ali Jinnah are the men responsible for partition. Nehru, Gandhi and their allies in the Congress suffered the consequences of the choice made by Savarkar and Jinnah. Nehru undoubtedly sought to make India, strong, modern and secular. In his lifetime he was to witness Pakistan, created on the basis of religion, crumbling. But India did not allow itself to become a ‘Hindu Pakistan’ till 2014.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this great country has been pushed back into the Dark Ages by the petty organisations that hated Nehru.

Nehru is too tall a figure for today’s political pygmies, who neither have the head nor the heart to value his contributions.

The rose pinned to Nehru's sherwani came from Nehru's love of roses, not the love of cameras!

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Published: 14 Nov 2021, 11:00 AM