IN HIS STELLAR BIOGRAPHY of Nawab Nehru, Michael Edwardes explodes the great myth that Nehru was a true democrat.
Overall, this was the sickening refrain that echoed throughout Nehru’s tenure as the Prime Minister of India: he was convinced that he held answers to everything. The only time he listened to dissent was when it emanated from the Communists not because he was scared of them but because he was addicted to their Masters in the (erstwhile) Soviet Union.
But even with the Communists, he drew the line. They were allowed free run as long as his absolute power remained unchallenged. And when that challenge first came, it came constitutionally — in the form of Kerala which elected its first non-Congress, Communist government. That was when Nawab Nehru, the Champion of Democracy unceremoniously dismissed it, marking the maiden abuse of Article 356. This crude dismissal also punctures yet another myth that Nehru was a builder of institutions. In this case, he mauled the office of the Governor to unseat EMS Namboodiripad. Similar things occurred during Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s rule when his own governors rebelled against him. They were instantly, cruelly put to death. Thank God for democracy.
Indeed, there’s no significant evidence to show that Nehru genuinely cared for institutions. Much before he illegitimately dismissed the Namboodiripad government, he had stifled free speech by introducing the notorious First Amendment to the Constitution. Ever since, this amendment proved to be a great boon for all Congress governments that followed — both in the Centre and in the States. Until the late 1980s, the first amendment to Article 19 was the most used weapon to throw people in jail for speaking the truth.
Given all this, why should we be surprised that an innately dictatorial leader like Nawab Nehru introduced this amendment? Why should we be surprised that he impaired institutions with impunity?
The answer to such questions lies in how Nawab Nehru became Prime Minister. He was not elected by popular will. He was forced upon the nation by Mohandas Gandhi who deposed Sardar Patel, the leader who had won overwhelming support. If we rewind back to the freedom movement, we notice that Nawab Nehru was not really popular within the Indian National Congress. He was popular with the masses but it was reflected glory thanks to his proximity to Gandhi. And as long as Patel was alive, Nehru could not run riot either within the Congress party or the Government. In a desperate attempt, Nehru once tried to cut down Patel by encouraging R.A. Kidwai to form a splinter group called the Congress Democratic Front and considered splitting the mother party. Sardar Patel’s death proved to be a huge bonanza for Nehru who then began to run the country based on fanciful whims. This legacy has remained India’s enduring curse.
An analysis of how Nehru fought the 1951 general elections helps us understand the dark nature of Nehru’s legacy. Again, we can turn to Edwardes:
Nawab Nehru’s fake commitment to democracy and his love for dictatorship is seen in the kind of leaders he held in great esteem. Almost every genocidal maniac in history evoked the highest degree of fear-tinged respect within Nehru. He would shudder with pleasure whenever he wrote or spoke about absolute monsters like Mahmud of Ghazni. But it was “Marshal” Stalin who really gave him orgasmic delight. When the entire world sighed in relief when Stalin died, Nawab Nehru adjourned the Parliament from March 5 - March 9, 1953 because, in his words,
Almost every gaffe, every stupid utterance, and every Himalayan blunder that Nehru made can be traced back to his inherently weak personality that stemmed from inferiority complex. There enough firsthand accounts and anecdotes that show how he cowered under just a stare from much stronger personalities. The fact that Motilal Nehru could turn his 30-plus old son into a frightened puddle with just a stern glare says a lot about the son. Even the overbearing Motilal Nehru was overpowered into acquiesence by Gandhi’s saintly but unbending will. This is also the reason why Nehru clung to Gandhi. It is this weak personality that made Nehru a bully and an unabashed worshipper of dictators like Lenin and Stalin and Mao.
To be continued
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