Congress MP and leader Shashi Tharoor is being widely criticized for his statement that Nehru made it possible for a Chaiwala To Become Prime Minister.
He said, “If today we have a Chaiwala as prime minister, it is because Nehruji made it possible to create the institutional structures through which any Indian can aspire to rise to the highest office in the land”.
Though Modi supporters cannot digest this fact, it is indeed the truth. Let us analyse how Nehru built the above-mentioned institutional structures.
A democrat at heart, Nehruji believed that power should not be concentrated in the hands of a few. So during Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s second term as president, Nehruji brought in a private member Constitution amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha seeking to restrict President’s tenure to maximum two terms so as to pre-empt the possibility of Dr. Rajendra Prasad getting a third term. Ultimately Dr. Rajendra Prasad got the message and didn’t seek third term and the bill restricting President’s tenure was not passed.
Such was Nehruji’s stature and commitment to democratic values that after this incident no Indian President has server for more than one term, forget two. It was Nehruji’s tenure of about 17 years as Prime Minister which made such democratic institutional structures possible and durable.
During Nehruji’s tenure as Prime Minister, his daughter Indiraji became the President of the Congress Party and helped further democracy in the party.
Nehruji’s sister Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit served as Indian Ambassador to Soviet Union, United States and also Indian high commissioner to the United Kingdom. She also served as the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the Governer of Maharashtra and also as Lok Sabha MP furthering democracy in each of the roles.
Nehruji had realized with disappointment that it would take more than one generation to make Indians imbibe democratic values. Like a responsible leader he passed on his responsibility to his daughter Indiraji, whom he had brought up to respect democratic values. When Indiraji become Prime Minister in 1966, she sought complete her father’s dream to create the next generation of leaders not from the elites but from the lower classes in Indian society. However, when almost after a decade of being Prime Minister she saw that India had been unable to create next generation leaders, she took upon herself to create a fast track 21-month leadership grooming programme in the years from 1975 to 1977. Many of the leaders we see today in India’s polity were groomed and trained in this 21-month fast track leadership training program.
Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sushil Kumar Modi, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Sitaram Yechury and Vijay Rupani are some of the persons who became leaders after this training program.
Lalu Prasad was so enamoured by one of the Modules of this leadership grooming programme that he named his daughter Misa after it.
Had it not been for that leadership program Venkaiah Naidu would not have risen to the post of the Vice President of India. Even H. D. Deve Gowda was into politics earlier really rose in stature only after the training program and went on to become the Prime Minister.
When the leadership training program has created so many leaders, it is no big deal that one of them happened to be a Chaiwala who went on to become Prime Minister.