Hallet served as home secretary to the British government in India and occupied
the governor's post in Bihar and the United Provinces as part of his
assignments between 1932 and 1945. His hatred of the Congress party was
startlingly similar to Prime Minister Modi's today. During the Quit India
Movement, Jawaharlal Nehru suspended for three years the publication of the National
Herald, which he had founded as a newspaper with a liberal slant, unrelated to
a signed editorial, when the paper resumed publication on Nov 30, 1945, Nehru
remembered the interruption as "years of solitude in prison cells, and of thousands
driven underground, homeless and disinherited wanderers, keeping the flag of
resistance high amid tremendous odds".
the editorial, he recalled how governor Hallet had threatened to kill the
Congress summarily. "We wish to destroy the organisation and render it
impossible for the movement to grow and expand." Hallet was using Modi's idiom
of a 'Congress-free India'. That was not the only place where the Hindu right
and colonialism worked in tandem.
the editor had more to say on the subject. "Sir Maurice Hallet is soon leaving
this province and India," he wrote. "What does he think now of that
declaration, backed as it was with the armed legions of a mighty empire? Who
flourishes today? Who will flourish tomorrow in India?" Nehru was, of course,
describing a movement and not a party. Gandhiji wanted to disband the Congress
after Independence. For better or worse that didn't happen.
There are several reasons for the Indian left to be
critical of Nehru. But why does the Indian right hate him ever so intensely?
Independence, Nehru faced criticism from two fronts, the Hindu right and the
communists. Anyone who has to run India with its myriad contradictions has to
face the music. The communist poet Majrooh Sultanpuri was jailed for two years for
describing Nehru as a serpent loyal to the British Commonwealth and being an
enemy to the Indian people. (Khaddar ki kechul ko pehen kar ab ye nagin
lehraney na paaye/ Maar le saathi jaaney nap aye.)
left did see the Commonwealth as a backdoor method of entry for the British
economic and defence interests in India. Nehru favoured it. Majrooh was asked
to apologise. He didn't and famously penned his memorable songs for the movie
Andaz from prison.
it was under Nehru that the first communist government in Kerala was torpedoed.
Yet, it was under Nehru too that the Communist Party flourished as the main
opposition group in parliament following the 1952 polls. Democracy followed its
hallowed way to find equilibrium.
are several other reasons for the Indian left to be critical of Nehru. But why
does the Indian right hate him ever so intensely? Is there a day when Prime
Minister Modi fails to mock the legacy of Nehru? The answer is simpler than
most Indians feel equipped to imagine. Nehru had a particular and instinctive
dislike for the Hindu right. He never missed a chance to underline this
thought. Nehru's writings are peppered with examples of his unalloyed vitriol
against the Indian Hindu right, against the Hindutva brand of nationalism in
consider two examples to see why so much bile is spewed against a rare Indian
leader whose intellectual prowess and books are a subject of study in
universities around the world. Atal Behari Vajpayee to his credit was an
unusual Hindutva politician who openly admired Nehru. In Shades of Saffron, a
new book by journalist Saba Naqvi on the BJP's journey from Vajpayee to Modi,
there is a reference to this quaint soft corner Vajpayee displayed for Nehru.
1977, Vajpayee became the external affairs minister. As a Jana Sangh MP, he had
made many speeches criticising India's foreign policy, chiefly the ones
concerning Pakistan, Tibet and China. But Vajpayee surprised everyone by not
yielding to the apprehensions he had himself sparked. Asked about the apparent
change of heart, according to the book, Vajpayee said: "Then I was in the
opposition. Now I am occupying Nehru's chair."
is not a party but a worldview, which in Nehru's days was, as it is today,
present even within the Congress. Nehru fought the right wing tooth and nail.
In a letter to Gandhi, Nehru praised his patience with right-wing nationalists.
But he also advised his revered Bapu to read Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, the
play in which she made the author's rebelliousness look miniscule in
comparison. Not only did Joan challenge the place of women but her actions
attacked the entire power structure of mediaeval society.
asked Gandhi to commandeer a copy from his daughter Indira who he had presented
it with. And here is a passage from that letter, which may be of interest to
Rahul Gandhi and his advisers who are determined to make him visit temples to
is all very well for the likes (of a fellow Kashmiri Pandit colleague) and me
to talk pompously and in a superior air â€¦ or for us to bless the movement for
temple entry when neither has the remotest desire to go within a hundred miles
of a temple except, so far as I am concerned, to see the architecture and the
cow slaughter on Aug 7, 1947, Nehru put his foot down with Babu Rajendra
Prasad, the future president of India.
he opposed the slaughter of milch cows an overall ban, according to Nehru,
would be disastrous. "Our better breeds will be swamped out of existence and
there would be a general degradation."
was a paramount political factor too. "I find myself in total disagreement with
this revivalist feeling, and in view of this difference of opinion I am a poor
representative of many of our people today. I felt honestly that it might be
better for a truer representative to take my place. That would do away with the
unnaturalness and artificiality of the present position." But that was Nehru.