When PM Modi Hit a New Low in Gujarat, Needs Lessons from Lohia and Nehru
JUSTICE RAJINDAR SACHAR
NEW DELHI: Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won theGujarat elections though with a much smaller margin, will he reflect on how low he took politics when he made the wild charge that there is a conspiracy that Congress and elements in Pakistan may be working in cahoots to prevent a B.J.P. victory in Gujarat.
I am troubled as to how low the BJP could fall, all this because of a dinner at Mani Shankar Aiyars residence, where former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and high ranking former Indian diplomats and High Commissioner of Pakistan were also present. There is a certain amount of decorum and decency which is never crossed in politics. But clearly all limits have been transgressed with this charge hitting the lowest denominator.
There is certainty a banter and a serious dig at the competency of political rivals but never false charges. The banter between Gladstone and Disraeli are classic , when the later said; “If Gladstone fell in the Thames, that would be a misfortune. But if someone fished him out again, that would be a calamity.”
Previously such limits were never crossed even amongst sworn political rivals in India. It is well known that Dr.Ram Manohar Lohia after coming back from Germany, had worked in the Central Congress office with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was the president of the Congress party at the time. When our Socialist party walked out of the Congress in 1946 Dr. Lohia was the bitterest opponent of Nehru. But their relations never touched such lows.
In May 1949, the Socialist Party under Lohia’s leadership held a demonstration before the Nepal embassy at Bara Khamba Road, New Delhi to protest against the takeover of the Nepal government by Rana that forced the King to flee. We vere arrested (about 50 of us including Dr. Lohia) for violating Section 144 CRPC. and so we remained in jail for over a month. During that period Nehru sent a basket of Mangoes toLohia in jail.
Sardar Patel was annoyed and wrote to Nehru that while the government had arrested Lohia, (you are sending mangoes to him). To which Nehru wrote back politely that we should not mix personal relations with politics.
In 1951 before Lohia’s visit to the United States he had come to Delhi. I remember that we were in the sitting room when some one told him that there was a phone call for him. Lohia went to the other room. When he came back I asked whose phone was it. He said Pt. Nehru. What did he say, I asked. Lohia in half banter and annoyance repeated the conversation thus;
Nehru “ Ram Manohar, I hear you are going to USA
Dr. Lohai ‘Yes’
And there was a pause. Then again Nehru asked “when”
Dr. Lohia ‘ Next week’.
pause and then Pt. Nehru said ‘Alright’, and switched off.
It was a curious conversation and I asked. Lohia why he had called at all. Dr. Lohia in half anger said – “you know he wanted to tell me. “Ram Manohar you are going abroad – do not criticize the govt. when abroad, but did not have the guts to tell me”. And then Lohia said a trifle irritably, “what strange behaviour – does he think that I will talk ill of the government when abroad”. Such was their closeness, and yet so apart.
However when Lohia met Einstein he could not restrain himself and in answer to the latter’s questions remarked that “politicians are liars”. Einstein with all sobriety added “they were criminals”. Would Einstein have been able to find adequate words for the politicians now – I doubt it.
One day before filling the election papers against Nehru in General Elections of 1962 Lohia wrote a letter to Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru.
You would be surprised to read this letter. When I left the office of the Congress Committee forever I paid regards to that building Aruna was with me. That was our last meeting. In these elections, your victory is certain. But if the certainty is turned into uncertainty and ultimately to your defeat then I would be extremely happy and it would also be beneficial for the country. Then you would get the opportunity to improve yourself and become a better person. In the end, I pray for your long life so that I may get the opportunity to reform you.
Ram Manohar Lohia.
To which Nehru replied the following;-
Dear Ram Manohar
Received your letter without date and address. I am sending the reply at the address of Socialist party, Allahabad.
“I am happy that a sober person like you is opposing me in the elections. I think in this election the discussion would be centred on the political programmes. Be cautious and ensure that the personal discussion should be curtailed. On my part I promise that I would not visit my constituency even for a single day.”
Jawahar Lal Nehru
In 1964 -5 Lohia was elected to the Parliament. Nehru made it a point to be present in Parliament on the day when Lohia was sworn as member. Though Lohia and Nehru continued to exchange lot of hard words these were only on policy matters.
Modi should rather ruminate seriously the alienation of Muslims. That BJP did not put up a single Muslim candidate when their population in Gujarat is over 8%.
Can one expect that Prime Minister Modi who took the oath of office to treat all communities equally. Is he in agreement with the statement made by Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS boss that “All people born in India are Hindus”, which is deliberately provocative and harmful to the harmony in the Country or the truth of Swami Vivekanand’s exhortation that Mankind ought to be taught that religions are but the varied expression of THE RELIGION, which is Oneness, so that each may choose the path that suits him best. I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.”