MISDEEDS OF MOHANDAS GANDHI AND JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
@NirbhayasIndia and I had become involved in a lengthy debate on twitter about Mohandas Gandhi (I prefer to call him ‘Mohandas’ because of the proliferation of Gandhis lately, the admonition of @NirbhayasIndia notwithstanding). It began with a debate on Mosques and Temples, and got on to a debate about Muslims and Islam. I said there were millions of very good Muslims, some of whom were my friends, but Islam has a problem: the concepts of ‘Kafir’ and ‘Jihad’, which do not permit idol-worshippers like me to live. Then this gentleman (or maybe a lady, no way to know his gender) began to lose his or her shirt and said that he or she (this is getting bothersome, so henceforth I shall assume masculine gender) doesn’t take lessons on Islam from me, because he takes it from Mohandas. I very humbly said that I take my lessons from the Qur’an and the Haadis (Traditions) and do not accept the politically correct views of Mohandas. Then the debate switched to Mohandas and also to Nehru, and he contended that since I was a lot shorter (he clarified it later as shorter in terms of stature, not centimeters) than both, I had no right to criticize them. At this point @a4ahlan joined in and quite sensibly suggested that the debate can go on. But the other person was incensed, and called me a fat Hindu fundamentalist. I was really astounded, because I am really fat (BMI 33.5) and how on earth did he get to know it? But I’m getting distracted. He dared me to name two persons in BJP who were anywhere near Mohandas and Nehru.
But first let me get on to the misdeeds of these two late lamented gentlemen. Mohandas was a great mass leader, of that there is no doubt. The sway he had managed to get over his party was really enviable. But having said that he also did the following:
- Supported the retrograde Khilafat Movement in the 1920s and supported the rabidly fundamentalist Ali Brothers. This is one of the factors which drove pork-eater Jinnah into the fundamentalist camp. Read Mohamedally Currim Chagla’s autobiography ‘Roses in December’ for more details on this.
- There were two particularly horrible communal riots at this time, the Moplah rebellion of Malabar (Kerala) and the one in Kohat (now Pakistan), and several such in Dhaka (now Bangladesh). In every such Hindu-Muslim riots he took the side of Muslims in the hope that this will bring in Hindu-Muslim unity. The opposite happened. The Muslims became even more emboldened, and the climax was reached in the Great Calcutta Killings of August 1946, directly engineered by the then Premier of Bengal, H.S.Suhrawardy.
- He made no efforts to save Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru from the gallows, calling them misguided patriots.
- He, on the advice of C. Rajagopalachari, in 1944 when all other Congress leaders were in jail, went and met Jinnah and practically conceded Pakistan.
- He did not visit Calcutta after the Great Calcutta Killings of August 1946 in which an estimated 15,000 people were killed, for fear that he might be seen as favouring Hindus.
- He elbowed out Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from the Presidency of the Congress at Tripuri in 1939 although the latter had won the presidency by election.
- He did bizarre sexual experiments with young girls, his grand-nieces Abha and Monu Gandhi, by sleeping naked with them during his trip of Noakhali in East Bengal in 1946.
Who can measure up to Gandhi? Guruji Golwalkar, any day. Also Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Guruji got charge of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh from the embryonic stage in which Dr. Hedgewar, the founder, had left it and built it up to become possibly the biggest voluntary organization in the WORLD! Gandhi inherited the Congress when all its great leaders– Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, Surendra Nath Banerjea, were dead or very old. C.R.Das also died shortly afterwards.
And Nehru? Who in the BJP would have made a better Prime Minister than Nehru?
I suggest Subodh Das.
But who is Subodh Das? Why, he is the person who makes tea at our BJP state office.
Isn’t this preposterous?
It is not. Read on.
Nehru had, in spite of having ruled India for seventeen years, and out of that having enjoyed practically unchallenged power over the nation for no less than fourteen years (1950-64, from Patel's death to his own), failed to address the problems of food deficit, population explosion, governmental corruption and illiteracy ; despite his great predilection for foreign affairs willfully acquiesced in the Chinese annexation of Tibet and removed what could have remained as a buffer state between the two countries, and could have effectively ruled out any Chinese aggression of the type that took place in 1962 ; aided by his trusted friend Krishna Menon, turned India into a virtual Soviet satellite, and made enemies of all western nations ; needlessly internationalised the Kashmir dispute ; taxed the nation to its gills, gave birth to a ‘Black Economy’, and frittered away all that tax money in creating a semi-Stalinist command economy based on state-owned heavy industries – real white elephants – that he fancifully called ‘temples of tomorrow’ ; and finally foisted a hereditary rule on the country and his party, the latter continuing to this day in the person of his Italian-born granddaughter-in-law.
Even during Patel's lifetime he had committed the incredible folly of calling off the Indian Army in Kashmir in 1948 when they were in hot pursuit of the fleeing Pakistani irregulars, and declaring a cease-fire unilaterally. He is believed to have done this because he believed Lord Mountbatten implicitly, much more than he did his own Generals, and it is on his advice that he did this. We need not go into the romantic aspect of this belief, that is to say the relationship between him and Lady Edwina Mountbatten – even without that the folly had been committed. There must be very few instances indeed in the history of mankind where a nation, about to taste victory in a war not of its doing, has acted in such an inexplicable manner. Had the army been allowed to chase the irregulars out of the hills of Kashmir on to the plains of Punjab - which they would have done in another forty-eight hours - the Pakistanis would have lost all the advantage of the heights, and probably there would have been no Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and no Kashmir problem today.
His abandonment of the Hindu refugees of East Bengal (or East Pakistan has not received a fraction of the publicity it deserved. The facts are as follows: Unlike in Punjab, there was no mass exchange of population between the two sides following partition of the province of Bengal in 1947. There was, however, considerable pressure from the East Pakistani government on the Hindus in the form of forcible requisitioning of their properties, etc. Many well-to-do Muslims in West Bengal at this stage had also decided to move to Pakistan, and in the period between 1947-50 there was a lot of amicable exchange of property between the two Bengals. However, in February 1950 the East Pakistan government, led by its Chief Secretary Aziz Ahmed (described as ‘notoriously anti-Hindu’ by B.K.Nehru in his autobiography), started a pogrom against Hindus as a result of which more than 50,000 Hindus were killed, and an enormous number of women raped and property destroyed. Nehru showed unspeakable vacillation in dealing with this crisis, but ruled out an exchange of population on the Punjab model or military action against Pakistan when the same was proposed by his cabinet colleague Syama Prasad Mookerjee. Then he signed a pact with Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan whereby it was agreed that either country will look after its minorities and take back the displaced ones. Pakistan treated this pact as no better than toilet paper and continued its pogroms, though on a milder scale, against the Hindus. But Nehru pinned his personal prestige to the success of this pact, as a result of which he refused to take any action for the rehabilitation of the east Bengali Hindu refugees. Syama Prasad Mookerjee and K.C.Neogy, the two Bengali ministers in the central cabinet, resigned in protest against the pact. As an act of political naïveté few acts could compare with this pact – it could not have been unknown to Nehru that the Pakistan government had engineered this pogrom, yet he entrusted the safekeeping of the Hindus to the very same Pakistan government!
Nehru’s role before independence in bringing about the partition of the country is also reprehensible. Maulana Azad’s remarks (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India Wins Freedom, Orient Longman, Madras, Complete Version, Reprinted 1993) on the man in the context of his press interview which gave Jinnah an opportunity to retract his acceptance of the Cabinet Mission proposals, are quite instructive in this regard. These details have been deleted from our history books by the so-called historians receiving largesse from Nehru’s government (read Arun Shourie’s Eminent Historians, Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud, ASA, New Delhi, 1st Ed., 1998). Very briefly, what happened is this: in 1946 the British Cabinet sent a very high-powered team under the leadership of Lord Pethick-Lawrence to negotiate with Indian leaders (principally those of the Congress and the Muslim League) the modalities of granting independence to India. The team had talks with the leaders and came up with a plan in June 1946 which was called the ‘Grouping Plan’. The sum and substance of this plan was that India would remain one. There would be a weak centre with a few subjects such as currency, foreign affairs and communications, and the remaining powers would all vest in the provinces. The Congress accepted the plan and so did the Muslim League, though somewhat reluctantly. At that time Maulana Azad had just relinquished the presidency of the Congress in favour of Jawaharlal Nehru. However Nehru in a press conference held on July 10 in Bombay resiled from this position and declared that the Congress would enter the Constituent Assembly ‘completely unfettered by agreements and free to meet all situations as they arise’ ; and also that grouping of provinces, as proposed by the mission, will not work. Consequent upon this, the Muslim League on July 29 withdrew their acceptance of the Cabinet Mission proposals.
Maulana Azad has termed this act of Jawaharlal Nehru an ‘astonishing statement’ and “one of those unfortunate events that change the course of history”. He also deeply regretted that on April 26, 1946, while stepping down from the Presidency of the Congress he had issued a statement proposing the name of Jawaharlal Nehru as the next President of the Congress, and had appealed to all Congressmen that they should elect him unanimously. He called this the greatest blunder of his political life. He goes on to say that his second mistake was not supporting Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who, had he become the Congress President, would never have committed the mistake Jawaharlal made, and which gave Jinnah the opportunity of sabotaging the Cabinet Mission plan. The book was first published in 1958, after his death, but in accordance with his wishes, thirty pages of the book were withheld, to be published thirty years later. In this part of the book he writes “Jawaharlal Nehru was one of my dearest friends and his contribution to India’s national life is second to none. I have nevertheless to say with regret that this was not the first time that he did immense harm to the national cause. He had committed an almost equal blunder in 1937 when the first elections were held under the Government of India Act 1935 when he refused to honour a pre-election understanding with the Muslim League. M.C.Chagla in his autobiography has also been critical of this terrible mistake of Nehru.
Together with withdrawal of acceptance of the Cabinet Mission proposals the Muslim League also announced that August 16, 1946 will be a day of ‘Direct Action’ by the League in support of Pakistan. No explanation was forthcoming as to what would constitute such ‘Direct Action’. This Direct Action eventually turned out to as bloodbath known as the The Great Calcutta Killings of 16-20 August 1946.
Another very astute and knowledgeable person who saw him at close range is the relatively unknown Benoy Mukhopadhyay, Chief Press Adviser and Registrar of Newspapers, Government of India, around 1947 and later Secretary, Press Council of India. Mukhopadhyay is known in Bengali literature by his pseudonym Jajabor, and is credited with writing the classics Drishtipat and Jhelum Nodir Tire. In an interview to the Bangla fortnightly Desh, he has described Nehru as a 'Political Somnambulist', a person living in his own dreamland of political make-believe. He reminisces on the Nehru-coined slogan of the 1950s, 'Hindi-Chini bhai bhai' (Indians and Chinese are brothers) which culminated in the Chinese attacking India in 1962. The attack was preceded by frequent border incursions by the Chinese across the McMahon line, a fact that Nehru simply chose to ignore, because it did not fit in with his pre-set notions of Sino-Indian friendship. Mukhopadhyay describes Nehru as imagining 'secularism' (one of the most misused words in India) to be the panacea for all centrifugal and divisive tendencies. He chose to forget that there was such a thing as pan-Islamism, that Islam called upon all its followers to unite regardless of nationality, that Allahu Akbar was not merely a religious slogan but a political exhortation as well.
All his misdeeds could be forgiven if, with his untrammeled power and his foreign exchange reserves in the form of ‘sterling balance’ he could take the country forward economically. Alas, he did no such thing. He did not believe in the creation of wealth or the profit motive as being the driving engine behind economic development. Thus, a strange phenomenon was manifest: while countries like Germany, Japan, Singapore and South Korea (which, unlike India did not have a single building intact in their country in 1947) went ahead with development and raised themselves to the first world in no time, India was left languishing with its begging bowl in hand, forever a poor country. Meanwhile Nehru, who had become something like an international busybody, created a ‘Neutralist Bloc’ with Tito of Yugoslavia, Nkrumah of Ghana and Sukarno of Indonesia, while at the same time losing his credibility by adopting a duplicitous policy between the Suez crisis and the Soviet invasion of Hungary, both of which took place at around the same time in 1956.
What more is there to say? I personally think Mohandas Gandhi’s greatest misdeed was choosing Nehru over Patel as the first Prime Minister of independent India.