Dr. Susmit Kumar, Ph.D.

 

Mr. Ramchandra Guha should feel ashamed of writing bogus facts in his 2018 Gandhi book to defame great freedom fighters like Sardar Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and J.B. Kripalani in order to enhance the prestige of Gandhi and Nehru. He is doing nothing but corrupting the history.

 

Due to nearly six decades of mostly continuous rule by and massive glorification of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, “court” historians, like Ramchandra Guha, of India have corrupted the country’s history. In his book Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division, Patrick French has correctly written (Liberty or Death: India Journey to Independence and Division, Patrick French, Flamingo, London, 1997, pp 17-8):

 

“The plaster Mahatma encapsulated in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi is plainly inaccurate. As Salman Rushdie has written: “To make Gandhi appeal to the Western market, he had to be sanctified and turned into Christ – and odd fate for a crafty Gujarati lawyer – and the history of one of the century’s greatest’s revolutions had to be mangled.’ The film leaves us with the message ‘that the best way to gain your freedom is to line up, unarmed, and march towards your oppressors and permit them to club you to the ground; if you do this for long enough, you will embarrass them into going away. There were innumerable reasons for the British quitting India, but embarrassment was not one of them. This version of events, though, appeals not only to the Western market, but also within India, where the Congress hold on power during the decades succeeding independence had made the portrayal of a blameless and beatific father of the nation politically useful.”

 

In his book, Gandhi The Years That Changed the World 1914-1948, Ramchandra Guha corrupted history by writing bogus facts to defame great freedom fighters like Sardar Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and JB Kirplani in order to enhance the prestige of Gandhi and Nehru. In this article, we will discuss some of the bogus facts, written in his 2018 Gandhi book – there are many more like these. He wrote these (bogus) facts without giving any citation.

 

(1)   For an example, Guha is wrong to write on Page 542 [when Bose decided to stand for second term as the Congress President in 1939] (Gandhi The Years That Changed The World 1914-1948, Ramchandra Guha, Alfred A. Knoff, New York, 2018, p 542):

 

“A second term was very rare; it had been given only twice before, once in the exceptional circumstances of the Salt March when all the major leaders were in jail. Gandhi was not in favour of Bose’s re-election. He looked around for a suitable successor. He first tried Azad, then Nehru. Both refused. So he settled on the Andhra Congressman Pattabhi  Sitaramayya…”  [Dr Kumar’s comment: Nobody wanted to be “bali ka bakra” [Sacrificial Goat] because Bose was so popular that he was going to defeat any one and which he did by defeating Mr Sitaramayya.]

 

 

But Mr. Guha forgets that just before Bose, Nehru had two consecutive presidential terms (1936 Lucknow Session - 1937 Faizpur Session) and he was Congress President in 1930 also, i.e., Jawaharlal Nehru had been Congress president unprecedent three times in a span of seven years (please read my article In 1929 Gandhi “Adopted” Jawaharlal Nehru to Stop Himself Being Sidelined In Congress by Left-Wingers)

 

https://www.inc.in/en/leadership/past-party-presidents - it is Congress Party's official website

 

 


Here are the details of Nehru’s Presidential 3-terms in a span of just 7 years during 1930-37:

 

After 1930, Jawaharlal Nehru was again made the President of the Congress in 1936. Unlike in 1930, this time Nehru was able to nominate three prominent Socialists, Acharya Narendra Dev, Jayaprakash Narayan and Achyut Patwardhan, to his Working Committee. Although he had Subhas Bose also in Working Committee, Bose was in prison for returning to India against the Raj’s wishes. His team was dominated by ten of the old guard.

 

Although Jawaharlal Nehru had the backing of Gandhi who made him the Congress President in 1936 and Nehru nominated three socialists in Congress Working Committee, Seven Working Committee members headed by Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Rajagopalachari and Kripalani threatened to resign over the socialist speeches of Nehru.  Gandhi then patched up the quarrel, but it is clear that it was Nehru who as usual had made the concessions – Gandhi in fact rebuked him sharply for ‘intolerance’, and pointedly reminded him that ‘you are not in power yet. To put you in office was an attempt to find you in power quicker than you would otherwise have been’ (Modern India: 1885-1947, Sumit Sarkar, Macmillan, 2004 ed. p 347).

 

The selection of the President for the 1937 Congress annual session again assumed political significance in view of the differences between Nehru and Patel on the issue of socialism. Patel and Nehru had been proposed by Provincial Congress Committees; the former had a majority backing. Gandhi, however, decided that Nehru be given another term and persuaded Patel to withdraw in his favor. Gandhi’s object was to avoid a split in the background of the vote in the previous session at Lucknow in which Nehru’s group had been trounced. Patel bowed to Gandhi’s wishes, but made it clear that he did not accept Nehru’s ideas on socialism nor agreed with him that reforms be wrecked. He had an open mind on acceptance of ministerships in the provinces under the new Reforms Act (India from Curzon to Nehru and After, Durga Das, Rupa Publications, India, 1981, pp 175-6).

 

(2)   In the same book Gandhi The Years That Changed the World 1914-1948, Ramchandra Guha narration of nomination of Nehru as the Congress President in 1946 is completely incorrect although he cited Rajmohan Gandhi’s book Patel A Life as his reference. Rajmohan Gandhi’s narration of Nehru’s nomination is correct and is same as in Durga Das’ and JB Kripalani’s books. It is worth noting that Rajmohan Gandhi is Mahatma Gandhi's grandson. Guha’s following statement and assertion in his book are completely wrong (pp 750-1):

 

J.B. Kripalani, the Congressmen who had known Gandhi longest, wanted to throw his hat in the ring….

 

There was something Patel himself was quite aware of, which is why he did not press his candidacy but withdrew in favor of Nehru. Patel knew that while the provincial secretaries may have backed him, he would not have won a vote against Nehru in the wider AICC, still less among the party membership as a whole.

 

It is worth noting that during the independence movement, Nehru was not considered by his colleagues to have the leadership quality. Mahatma Gandhi projected Nehru as a mass leader. In 1946, 15 Pradesh Congress Committees (PCC) were to choose the party president who would be eventually the first prime minister of independent India. Although before the election Mahatma Gandhi made it clear that Nehru should be the party president, not a single Pradesh Congress Committee, out of fifteen, nominated Nehru for the party president (Patel A Life, Rajmohan Gandhi, Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, Eleventh Print, Dec. 2014, pp. 370-1). At that time, J.B. Kripalani was responsible for collecting the nominations from the 15 PCCs. As per him, twelve PCCs proposed Sardar Patel and rest three proposed Kripalani and Pattabhi Sitaramayya, and none for Nehru (My Times An Autobiography, JB Kripalani, Rupa & Co., 2004, pp. 610-4).

 

Hence Guha’s statement that Kripalani wanted to throw his hat in the ring is nothing but defamation of the great freedom fighter Kripalani because Kripalani's name was proposed by one of the 15 PCCs whereas none of the 15 PCCs had proposed for Nehru.

 

Then as per Gandhi’s wishes, Kripalani got the signatures of few Congress Working Committee members on a piece of paper to nominate Nehru although only the PCCs were authorized to nominate the president. Then Kripalani gave Patel a piece of paper with the latter’s withdrawal written on it. Kripalani showed this paper to Gandhi, who, despite his preference, gave Nehru an opportunity to stand down in the Patel’s favor. “No PCC has put forward your name,” Gandhi said to Nehru, “only the Working Committee has.” To this pregnant remark Nehru responded with “complete silence.” This was the confirmation of Gandhi’s remark about Nehru made earlier that he would not take second place. Then Gandhi asked Patel to sign the paper which Patel did at once (Patel A Life, Rajmohan Gandhi, Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, Eleventh Print, Dec. 2014, pp. 370-1). Subsequently the British Viceroy invited Nehru to form the government with him as the prime minister. If Gandhi had not intervened, Patel would have been the first de facto Premier of India, in 1946 and First Prime Minister of the Independent India.

 

Only PCCs were authorized to vote in the selection of the 1946 Congress President and the wider AICC had no say in it. Also, in a wider AICC vote, Patel would have had handily defeated Nehru because in the 1950 Congress Party’s Presidential election, Purushottam Das Tandon, Patel’s candidate, defeated Acharya [JB] Kripalani, supported by Nehru (My Times An Autobiography, JB Kripalani, Rupa & Co., 2004, pp. 733-4 - It is mentioned in JB Kripalani's book). But after the death of Patel, Nehru forced Tandon to resign and became party’s president also. Till Patel was alive, Nehru had limited control over both the government, in internal affairs (My Times An Autobiography, JB Kripalani, Rupa & Co., 2004, p. 733), and the Congress Party.

 

Also, the word “provincial secretaries” used by Guha is wrong as he tried to show that only one person, i.e., a secretary, in each province voted whereas each province had a Congress Committee, consisting of more than dozens of Congress members and it was the Congress Committee which sent one name to the Congress Working Committee. Then, Congress Working Committee had to just nominate the person who had obtained the majority vote of the PCCs, who in this case was Patel, as the next President of the Congress.

 

As per Rajendra Prasad, future First President of India, Gandhi had once again sacrificed his trusted lieutenant for the sake of “the glamorous Nehru” and the fear that Nehru would follow British ways. When Rajendra Prasad was using the phrase “once again”, he indeed was referring to the denial of Presidentship of the Congress party to Patel in the years 1929/30 and 1937. Prasad was not the only person to complain. According to some who knew him, the denial of Congress’ Presidency in 1946 “rankled” in Vallabhbhai’s spirit. According to Kripalani, “the Sardar did not like my intervention” (Patel A Life, Rajmohan Gandhi, Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, Eleventh Print, Dec. 2014, pp. 370-1).

 

In 1971, C. Rajagopalachari, Independent India’s Second Governor General bemoan the selection of Nehru, over Patel, as first Prime Minister of India by writing following (Rajaji A Life, Rajmohan Gandhi, Penguin Books, India, 1997, p 443):

 

When the independence of India was coming close upon us and Gandhiji was the silent master of our affairs, he had come to the decision that Jawaharlal, who among the Congress leaders was the most familiar with foreign affairs, should be the Prime Minister of India, although he knew Vallabhbhai would be the best administrator among them all…

 

Undoubtedly it would have been better … if Nehru had been asked to be the Foreign Minister and Patel made the Prime Minister. I too fell into the error of believing that Jawaharlal was the more enlightened person of the two… A myth had grown about Patel that he would be harsh towards Muslims. This was a wrong notion but it was the prevailing prejudice.

 

After Patel’s death, Nehru forced everyone to fall in line by carrot (by providing party tickets in elections and also positions in government) and stick. Due to not viewing Nehru in favorable light, Nehru was resentful to leaders like Patel and Dr Rajendra Prasad. Nehru asked the then President Dr Rajendra Prasad, who had worked with Patel for several decades during the Indian independence movement, not to attend Sardar Patel’s funeral claiming that it would be a bad precedent for the Head of the Union attending the funeral of a minister. But Dr Prasad disregarded the instruction despite the Prime Minister’s advice was binding on him in this matter and attended Patel’s funeral in Bombay (India from Curzon to Nehru and After, Durga Das, Rupa Publications, India, 1981, p 305). When Dr Prasad died in Patna in 1963, Nehru did not attend his funeral and went Rajasthan on that day to collect money for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. He also asked Dr Radhakrishnan, then President, not to attend the funeral, but he attended it by telling him, “No, I think I must go and attend the funeral. That respect is due to him and must be paid. I think you should give up your tour and come with me.” But Nehru stuck to his program (India from Curzon to Nehru and After, Durga Das, Rupa Publications, India, 1981, p 339).

 

The 15 Pradesh Congress Committees were proved to be correct in not nominating Nehru for the Congress Party President post in 1946 as he turned out to be a disaster for the country. Here are some for the reasons:

 

1.     His decision to take the Kashmir issue to the UN, despite his entire cabinet against it, has turned out to be a deadly cancer, both in terms of security and financial terms, for India.

 

2.     He was also responsible for the resounding defeat and loss of significant geographical area in the 1962 India-China War.

 

3.     For last couple of decades, India has been trying hard to become a permanent member of UN Security Council and also to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on nuclear weapons as a nuclear power. It is worth noting that the US was willing to give both to India in 1950s and early 1960s. Since 1949, the US and its Western allies did not allow the Mao’s Communist government in Mainland China after the overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government in 1949. According to Sashi Tharoor, a Congress Party’s Member of Parliament and former United Nations Under-Secretary General, Jawaharlal Nehru "declined a United States offer" to India to "take the permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council" around 1953 and suggested that it be given to China. In his book, "Nehru — The Invention of India,". Tharoor wrote that Indian diplomats who have seen files swear that Nehru declined the offer (“Nehru declined offer of permanent U.N. seat,” Mahesh Vijapurkar, The Hindu, January 9, 2004).

 

4.     According to M.K. Rasgotra, former Foreign Secretary, Nehru declined the US President John F Kennedy's offer of helping India detonate a nuclear device much before China did in 1964. If Nehru had accepted the offer, not only India would had tested the nuclear device first in Asia, before China, but it would have deterred China from launching its war of 1962 and even imparted a note of caution to [Pakistan's] Field Marshal Ayub Khan's plans for war in 1965 (“Nehru's refusal of Kennedy's offer of nuclear detonation kept India out of the NSG,” Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, The Economics Times, June 14, 2016).

 

But you will find the above mention, i.e. Nehru getting zero vote in 1946 Congress Presidential Election, rarely in any book in India, may be one in hundred-thousand books, because all the history books are written by court historians.

 

During the AICC Meeting on January 15, 1941, Gandhi had said:

 

Somebody suggested that Pandit Jawaharlal and I were estranged. It will require much more than differences of opinion to estrange us. We have had differences from the moment co-workers, yet I have said for some years and say now that not Rajaji (C. Rajagopalachari) but Jawaharlal will be my successor. He says that he does not understand my language, and that he speaks a language foreign to me. This may or may not be true. But language is no bar to union of hearts. And I know that when I am gone, he will speak my language (India’s Struggle for Independence, Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, Sucheta Mahajan and K.N. Panikkar, Penguin Books, New Delhi, India, 1989 (First published in 1987), p 454).

 

Gandhi treated India as his kingdom and when Britain was leaving, Gandhi gave the kingdom to his “adopted” son Jawaharlal Nehru who did not have any administrative qualities. Following the independence, the Nehru-Gandhi family or kingdom ruled over India for nearly sixty years. Initially till Sardar Patel was alive, Nehru had limited control over the Congress Party and of the government. But once Patel died in 1950, Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and finally Sonia Gandhi, who ruled by proxy, controlled the party and government, privileging their sycophants. They cut down people to size whenever anyone would attempt to go against them. During their regimes, media and publishers did not dare to write anything critical of them but projected Nehru-Gandhi family in a way that they were the only ones responsible for the independence and socio-economic growth in the country, belittling all others. We had a similar example in Bihar state. During the fifteen-year rule of Laloo Yadav (and his wife) in Bihar, they introduced chapters in school texts, comparing Laloo Yadav to Lord Krishna and the messiah of social justice (“Paean is mightier,” India Today website, Sanjay Kumar Jha, July 12, 2004). Similarly, court historians, appointed by Nehru-Gandhi family, have corrupted the history of India which needs to be re-written. It is true not only with current history. Court historians have completely distorted the medieval and ancient history also. There is a need to write Indian history as it happened and not from the Gandhi-Nehru-family perspective.