Mahatama Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru were two of the tallest leaders of India at the time of Independence. The former went on to become the unofficial “Father of the Nation” while the latter became the first Prime Minister of India and the longest serving PM till date. Jawahar Lal Nehru was perhaps the most dedicated disciple of Mahatama Gandhi and invariably used to tread the path shown by the Mahatama himself. Mahatama also used to have a soft corner for the ‘modern’ and ‘glamorous’ foreign educated (just like him) Nehru.
The first act of subverting the democracy, even before it was decided that India would be a democratic nation, was done by the ‘Father’ himself for his favorite disciple when he overrode the entire Congress party leadership to install Jawahar Lal Nehru as the Congress President instead of the majority choice of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1946, thereby making it clear that Jawahar Lal Nehru would be India’s first PM, and not Sardar Patel who was the overwhelming choice.
During the Independence, Partition and its subsequent handling, and the immediate aftermath set India on a path due to which it is still finding it difficult to unite the citizens of the country as one. Thanks to DD archives, we get a glimpse into the logic and reasoning that went into accepting the partition of the country by the then PM-to-be Jawahar Lal Nehru.
In his own words, Jawahar Lal Nehru said he understood that the violence unleashed by Mumhammad Ali Jinnah and Muslim League would not stop unless their demand of partition was accepted. He also said that since most of the Muslim league leaders were ‘Zamindaars’ and would naturally be opposed to the land reforms that he wanted to bring in, he thought it would be easier for him to carry out those reforms without them.
So, in other words, he surrendered to the violent tactics and allowed himself to be held hostage by a bunch of people with selfish interests. The consequence was the death of millions of Indians, acceptance of the notion that Hindus-Muslims cannot live together and a perpetual hate between the two communities.
One additional thing it did was to change the political mindset forever. It was the beginning of the so-called ‘secular’ politics. Muslims would now forever be viewed as a single coherent group (at least that has been the case till now). Common Muslim men and women were left at mercy of Muslim clergy which exploited them to the maximum by keeping them uneducated and backward so much so that the most heinous practices like Triple Talaq and Nikah Halala, which have been banned in most of the Islamic countries, are still being practiced openly in India in the name of religion.
The backwardness of the Muslims became clear when the ‘Sachar Committee’ report came into the public domain which validated what everyone knew beforehand that Muslim community is even more poor and backward than Dalits and Tribals. The Muslim clergy, ‘secular’ politicians and ‘left-liberal’ ecosystem tried to put the blame on BJP and other Hindutava parties for this situation despite themselves ruling for 52 years out of 57 years till the time of the report.
Though the ‘secular’ brigade would cringe if one were to held Jawahar Lal Nehru responsible for anything but the fact is he was the one who started this abhorrent politics of viewing Muslims differently from the rest of the Indian citizens because of his own weaknesses and follies. It was he who decided to reform the personal laws of the Hindu community but decided against the similar reforms in the Muslim community due to the fear of backlash at the pretext of the ‘time not being right’. He was at the helm of the affairs for 17 long years (5 interim and 12 after that) but the right time never came!
Its not as if Jawahar Lal Nehru was unaware of the presence of extremist elements in the Muslim society. He acknowledged the presence of backwardness and extremism prevalent among the vested Muslim groups in his interviews at the time but he just did not do anything to free the Muslim society from the clutches of the same. However, he did not fan those elements either. However, his successors were not so judicious in their approach. Indira Gandhi, to a lesser extent; Rajiv Gandhi, to a major extent, and other state and national level politicians afterwards openly catered to these groups and completely changed the meaning of ‘secularism’ from the Nehruvian era.
Their secularism was ‘Muslims have the first right on the Indian resources’, a license to riot and violence in the name of anything under the sky be it illegal Rohingyas, or ousting of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, or action against terrorism. They catered to these elements to such an extent they were ready to pass the controversial ‘Communal Violence Bill’ which would have put the onus of riots and violence solely on the Hindu community irrespective of the actual reality.
Today, the Hindus stand victimized in their own country where only their religious places are under government control; where only their education institutions have to implement RTE act; where only their festivals and rituals are termed as regressive and polluting; where the action on terrorism is seen as violence perpetuated by the Hindus on the Muslim community; where mere slogans and images of Hindus are termed aggressive and violent while even the most heinous violent acts of the other side are something to be silent about; where lies and fake news are used rampantly to paint one side as intolerant while the real incidents of violence by the other side are whitewashed by the mainstream intelligentsia. This is the ‘normal’ that has been created through the practice of this sick ‘secularism’; this is the mindset that has been created through decades of this sick politics.
And what hope do we have in changing this abhorrent situation when even the most vilified ‘Hindu’, who is considered as the epitome of fascism, Hindutava politics, who is considered only a Hindu leader, an anti-Muslim leader; being at the helm of affairs but chooses to remain silent about these issues and seems to be doing nothing to change the situation. Perhaps, we are expecting way too much way too early from the man. How can the politics and mindset of 100 odd years can be eroded in a matter of few years. But the fact is there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel as of now. There seems to be no one who is ready to emulate Sardar Patel to bring about the actual change.
Mahatama Gandhi, who himself followed the policy of putting one’s other cheek forward when slapped on one cheek, overrode the majority decision in favor of Sardar Patel because he might be too orthodox for his liking or may be he was not going to be as accommodating as he wanted him to be while dealing with such situations or may be he was not foreign educated or may be he was for equal treatment for all rather than special one for some communities or may be he was sidelined because he was not as power hungry as Jawahar Lal Nehru.
Whatever be the reason, that one decision of his plunged this country into chaos and made sure that even after more than 70 years Muslims community has not been mainstreamed as one would have hoped for. His one decision made sure that India remains one nation only on the map with many mini-Pakistans thrive in the minds of many of its citizens.
This is the price you have to pay when you do not stand up for what’s right, when you think fighting for ‘Dharma’ and being violent are one and the same thing. If only, Mahatama Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru would have read and understood Indian scriptures more accurately, perhaps India would not have been facing this crisis today. Not fighting for ‘Dharma’ is same as perpetuating ‘Adharma’. If Only they would have understood this ancient wisdom. If Only.