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Jawaharlal Nehru - an enigma! or was he?

Dr. R.C Majumdar succinctly sums up Nehru's character - "Nehru seems to have lived in an ideal world of his own creation which had no relation to actual facts

His emphasis in 1945-6 on ‘national unity’ and ‘democracy’ as the two fundamental questions on which the Congress stood firm, and reference to the Congress as the “most democratic organization in the world” were very ill-timed. There was no more even any vestige of democracy left in the Congress since the acceptance of the resolution of Govind Ballabh Pant in the Tripuri Congress in March, 1939, making Gandhi, its dictator." Jawaharlal, as assessed by Subhas himself in Indian Struggles, liked to keep his feet on both sides at the sametime. "In this internal crisis the man who was inconvenienced most was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Up till now, he had, with great skill and ingenuity, been able to ride two horses at the same time and had thereby been able to secure the support of the Gandhi Wing, while being a friend or patron of the Left. Challenged by the Forward Bloc, he had to make his choice and he began to move towards the Right — the Gandhi Wing. And as the relations between the Gandhi Wing and the Forward Bloc became strained, Nehru rallied more and more to the support of the Mahatma." One of the key hallmarks of Jawaharlal had been vacillation - In 1928 he supported the resolution of complete independence and then under the pressure of Gandhiji, he withdrew. He was made the Congress President and he had no hesitation in moving with Gandhiji on the key issues - Gandhi Irwin pact and its ineffective terms, the fruitless participation in Round Table Conference and the swing between Dominion status and demand for complete independence. Jawaharlal knew that Subhas was much more charismatic leader, had more mass appeal and was much more sincere. Subhas had one goal - to free India, means were unimportant to him. Jawaharlal on the other hand was an Anglophile, he was a reluctant warrior against the British. His father had developed him with the best possible education and manner and customs in the European style. Jawaharlal's feet were in India but his mind and intellect were in Europe. He could never, with his gigantic intellect, and with his attempt to "Discover" India, associate himself mentally and spiritually with India in general and Hinduism in particular. Jawaharlal developed a keen sense of insecurity vis a vis Subhas, whom he thought as his political adversary, from 1939. In his Discovery of India he spent 15 pages on the Planning Commission, but not a single line mentioned that it was the brainchild of Subhas Chandra Bose and that it was Subhas Chandra Bose who had recommended him to be the chairman of the planning commission in 1939. Jawaharlal's discomfort with Subhas was evident in his bypassing all whom he considered Subhas Chandra Bose's men - Dr. Meghnad Saha was one of them, who was sidelined by the independent Indian Government despite his brilliance. Jawaharlal met Mountbatten in Singapore in 1946 who prevailed upon him not to lay any wreath on the INA memorial destroyed by the British Indian Army. That day, thousands of Indians in Singapore were disappointed when Nehru, despite his promise, did not turn up to pay any homage to the INA martyrs. Nehru did his best to wipe off the legacy of INA and Subhas Bose. He and Patel refused to take back INA men in the army, and even ordered the army not to keep any posters of Subhas Chandra Bose or distribute any material or collect funds regarding INA soldiers. Nehru also did nothing to mitigate the sufferings of the INA men - by refusing to settle their dues forfeited by the British. And the collaborators of the British rule continued to enjoy their salaries and pensions, despite the fact that they murdered, tortured and oppressed their own countrymen for so long at the behest of the foreign masters. It is now evident from the disclosed Netaji files that Nehru administration snooped over all the correspondences of the Bose family. The same Jawaharlal provided for the maintenance of Subhas Chandra Bose's wife and daughter by going out of his way. This has been cited by the leftist journals like The Hindu as evidence of Nehru's magnanimity. But when we read Bhagwanji's claims, we seem to get a totally different perspective. Bhagwanji claimed that India was becoming a hot bed of third world war, that its policies were not independent by were governed by the Anglo Americans. He termed his enemies as "JLN Combine" who were hunting for Netaji. If we do believe the deposition of Shyamlal Jain in Khosla Commission, it kind of corroborates. Bhagwanji was sore with Nehru. He pointed out his blunder after blunder - like the shabby preparedness of the defensive forces and the inglorious defeat in 1962 against China, the giving away of precious land of Aksai Chin - a strategic area, conceding Gilgit Baltistan and other areas of Kashmir to Pakistan, and many more. Bhagwanji claimed that Nehru betrayed His Holiness Dalai Lama to China, even after promising him protection and it was the "dead ghost" in the guise of General Shiva or General Death - ensured protection and safe escape of Dalai Lama to India.

In 1939 Subhas Chandra Bose had written a 27 page letter to Nehru, accusing him of doublespeak and hypocrisy on many counts. He also mentioned that Nehru's foreign policies were shrouded in mist and were never clear. Nehru accepted the accusations. Frothy sentiments have no value in foreign policy. A Nation's interest comes first, but to Nehru, in the guise of Universalism, National interest was denigrated, possibly because his autobiography was giving him a slow but sure foothold among his international audience and was earning him much reputation - something that he cherished. Nehru had always remained cover, behind Gandhi and now behind Subhas, but he wanted his own turf, international popularity and acceptance. He was far more acceptable to British and had a lot of friends among the parliamentarians and politicians. Sir Stafford Cripps was his close friend and he knew that Nehru was a willing collaborator, he would not launch an agitation when British Government was in distress. In 1942 he openly declared his jihad against the Japanese forces if they were brought to India by Subhas Chandra Bose. In 1942 he was a reluctant supporter of Quit India Movement. In 1945 he was a reluctant defender of INA. But Nehru had a most charming manner - like Duryadhana of Mahabharata, Nehru could make friends easily, esp. who could compromise with the moral and ethical principles and could give in to temptations. In this way he brought some of the INA veterans to his side while the rest could perish. He let them retain some of the symbols that they valued, like the slogan of Jai Hind - it would again prove his magnanimity. But memorials were a different matter - the valour of INA would be erased from the history books written with the pens of the court historians while the great ones like Dr. Ramesh Majumdar would be sidelined and Dr. Pratul Chandra Gupta's seminal research on INA would never be published.

Jawaharlal could write with impunity that, "There were some people of course, who thought that England's difficulty and peril were India's opportunity. But the leaders of Congress were definitely opposed to any such advantage being taken of a situation full of disastrous foreboding for England and declared so publicly." - a very clear and succinct reference to Subhas Bose and people like him who considered India's independence even at the cost of England's predicament - so noble - as to make Nehru the darling of Universalists, the European elite. Indeed, only few trouble mongers like Subhas Bose had dared to dream of Indian independence as they knew that once the war was over Britain would go back on its promise just as they had done in the first world war, that they were in no mood to give up the goose that lay golden eggs.

Jawaharlal used Gandhiji as a platform or ladder, to climb up, step by step and then he had no longer any use for Gandhiji after 1947. Gandhiji had said about Jawaharlal, "He is more English than Indian in his thoughts and make up. He is often more at home with English men than with his country men." Indeed Nehru was often ill at ease with Rajendra Prasad and Patel, the key stalwarts of Gandhiji. Apparently Nehru was an enemy of Imperialism, and yet he was a friend of the British. So according to Gandhi, Nehru was an "artist", only we hope that he did not mean a "con artist". Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya had said that "Jawaharlal has belaboured all along under two complexes, a certain superiority complex which made him feel superior to all the rest in India, and certain inferiority complex, lest he should be considered second to Gandhi."

Eve Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, who was a guest of Nehru years later, had said about her host, "After he had cursed Britain for hours and hours, the fact remained that Nehru did belong to the same universe of Englishmen whom I had seen fighting in the British isles and on every continent. This individualist, this fanatic lover of Western civilization, this independent thinker, could not conceivably live in a world other than the one, that Britain with all her faults, and the other united nations (allies) with all their faults, would erect after their hard won victory."

Contrast this with Subhas, who was every inch an Indian, and Gandhiji, who, despite all his dogmas, was no doubt an Indian first and sincerely loved his country the most.

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