Nehru’s response to the question: Is the Congress dead or dying ? 

In this speech selected by historian Mridula Mukherjee, Nehru addressed concerns about the Congress. The accompanying cartoon by Shankar shows how Nehru even then was the favourite scapegoat

Nehru’s response to the question: Is the Congress dead or dying ? 

Mridula Mukherjee

At Madras, November 27, 1951

So far as I am concerned the struggle is not over with the coming of political independence, that was only one stage, one journey ended, but the real journey never ends for a nation and even for us the journey is not ended because there is so much in this country which has got to be changed, and uprooted. ….

The idea came into my head because some people, often write in their newspapers and periodicals that the Congress is dead or dying and I just laughed. But when I saw those mighty crowds coming to me, I wondered who all these people were, who talked about the Congress being dead or dying? I wondered if they had any touch with the Indian people, if they knew anything about the people they dare to speak about.

For the Congress is not an electioneering device, the Congress is not a mushroom party to run for an election. Elections will come and elections will go, but the Congress will go on because the Congress has its roots in generations of work and service, and trouble and travail – because the Congress has its roots in the hearts of millions of people...

I therefore came to the conclusion after long and painful thought that the Congress has a further mission, and even though the Congress may have fallen into wrong ways here and there, even though, in many local places, it was in the hands of cliques and groups, even though factions had grown in the Congress which had weakened it, even though many Congressmen had become lazy and were not doing much and expected favours, yet, in spite of all this, I feel that the Congress still had a historical mission to fulfill.

Therefore, I give my time and energy to it. I do so because of two reasons, one is the positive reason that I feel, as I said, that the Congress has that mission to fulfill, and the other is a negative reason, that there is nobody else but the Congress which could fulfill that mission.

Now, I have no grievance against most of the other parties in India. I just do not see why other parties should not exist. Certainly, they are welcome. It is dangerous for the Congress or for any organisation to have it all its way.

There must be opposition, there must be struggle, life is struggle, life is not ease. Any organisation, not only an individual, that has an easy time, is corrupted by it. Therefore, I like opposition, I like parties to grow up to oppose the Congress. Therefore, it is not in any spirit that I want it all in my own way. I just do not see today any group, any party in India capable of shouldering the heavy burdens of India, except the Congress ....

There must be opposition, there must be struggle, life is struggle, life is not ease. Any organisation, not only an individual, that has an easy time, is corrupted by it. Therefore, I like opposition, I like parties to grow up to oppose the Congress. Therefore, it is not in any spirit that I want it all in my own way. I just do not see today any group, any party in India capable of shouldering the heavy burdens of India, except the. Congress ....

(Extracts is from Jawaharlal Nehru: Selected works, Second Series, Vol.17)

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