we are being pestered by our Reporter!
He claims to have 'noted' the diary of Pandit Jawaharlal
Nehru—and refuses to answer the simple question, 'how?'
Says this scribe that Pandit Nehru has begun a 'Diary'
as a result of the 'introspection'—and the reporter
has the audacity to add that, that Diary was placed
before him for inspection!
He insists that we would place this 'diary' before the
public and assures us of continuation.
We know not how to brush aside his request—there is
an amount of irresistible sincerity.
Hence we place what he claims to be the 'Diary' before
our readers, for what it is worth.
We took the liberty of reshaping the caption. Our reporter
captioned it as.
'Diary of a Democrat-cum-Dictator.']
Today, they all said is a Red-letter day — they always
say something sweet in my presence—a sort of habit,
I suppose. Anyhow I am happy. They were all also happy.
Well, I was glad to find them all happy over this interview.
They could have avoided the word ‘Red’ — they could
have called it, ‘Green!’ Anyway, let there be no dispute
over colour — though colour is important. I had a feeling
— slight though — that I am being pushed away from partymen
— a sort of vague fear, that I am being driven into
the ‘Ivory tower’ got hold of me. Hence, my idea of
meeting the M.P.s. — Saturday is being marked for this
There was talk—a sort of muffled talk I should say—that
I am more and more becoming a sort of a recluse. Ordinarily,
one should analyse such a situation, in a sort of philosophic
way. Not that I swear by philosophy. We have too much
of it already. But the philosophy of Dr. Radhakrishnan
has got an ennobling effect.
I was thinking that the very fact, that I am not meeting
the M.P.s., is proof positive that I am immersed in
work. And when I say work, I do not say it with regret.
I like work, immensely. And I like people working. Tremendous
work is going on. I am not saying as much work is being
turned out as ought to be — but much work. And being
immersed in work, I find no time—sometimes the inclination
too is wanting —to meet these people. They are a loveable
set—though sometimes they utter words, I totally dislike.
I had the pleasure of allowing the first set to meet
me. Well, it was a sort of refresher course. They had
many nice things to say! Some of them put inconvenient
“Panditji!” says one M.P.—I remember his name, but in
the public interest. I do not divulge it—you know I
hate secrecy, but sometimes it becomes necessary— “Panditji!
You caused a sort of terror creep into us, by your threat.”
“Threat? You think it a threat?’ I naturally asked—for,
to call it a threat, is to miss the point altogether.
And if an M.P. is possessed of such an illogicality,
how could the party maintain strength?
“It is a threat! Sure!” persisted the M.P., and added
that some of my colleagues were terribly afraid of what
was in store for them, the moment I left them. Of course,
I warned that enthusiast, that he should not try to
drive a wedge!
“Need I?” — asks that outspoken man.
“Well! Friends! Let us get to work! Enough of this enthusiasm,
eulogy and the like. Now tell me, what is wrong with
the Congress? Is our ideology defective? Are our methods
obsolete? What are your remedies? What do you want to
know from me?” I began in right earnest.
“I venture not to talk about such subjects, Panditji!
But I want, that you should not forget us all—we remain
just outside the small circle—the inner circle. Our
talents are unused. And to that extent, the country
is deprived of some tangible benefit.” - said that M.P.—and
several other nodded their approval.
“Well, friends” I began, with an amount of disgust,
“well, already there is a complaint that we have too
many ministers—in fact Feroze said scathingly enough
that every seven M.P. is a minister—so you see, there
is no possibility of utilising all of your talents.
Anyhow, talent can be harnessed to other fields. There
are may number to be found. The Community Project is
any—colourful—rich — and if properly handled, is bound
to change the very face of Bharath.
“Sure! Sure! The moment we go to our places, there is
a swarm of applicants. They want, fertilisers, seeds,
implements. We are able to supply only good literature
on these, not the actuals!” complained another M.P.
“I understand the difficulty. I do not like the situation.
No! But, there is this foreign exchange difficulty?”
“That explanation satisfies us, Panditji! But the people
ask impertinent questions. This is the democratic age,
as you know. And as staunch advocate of democracy, you
are bound to welcome criticisms too. The people when
told about the crisis in the foreign exchange, begin
to ask us, why did we drift things to move along wrong
lines?”—the M.P., was almost lecturing. I had to listen
— for did I not myself arrange this! Another M.P., intervened—but
only to have a dig at me.
“Panditji! At the A.I.C.C. you asked us all to be plain,
outspoken. Is it not! Hence, I am placing all the facts.
The people say, that, you have allowed. T.T.K. as commence
minister, to ‘monkey’ with import licences!”
“Discussion is good, dear friends! But there should
be decorum—decency in diction. I don’t mind your finding
fault with T.T.K’s policy. But should you on that account
call it, ‘monkeying.’ T.T.K. was our honoured colleague.
I distinctly remember, most of you paying rich compliments
to his ability, sagacity, integrity and sobriety. Now
to term his work as ‘monkeying,’ is not fair.” — I had
to warn them.
But they were in no mood to listen to warnings. Someone
said, “Why, Panditiji! At times you do use forceful
epithets. You called C.R., as a sort of crony!”
I was naturally annoyed. “My friend! Long, long before
you ever had the chance of claiming friendship with
C.R., I had him as my friend, guide, and philosopher.
You should not misunderstand. I had no intention of
insulting C.R. But, granting that I used hot words,
or ugly epithets, should you contribute your quota?
Well, that is the way of the unwise! I used to say ‘foolish’
— but since we are discussing the problem of decency
in diction I carefully avoided the word, ‘fool’.”
Possibly this silenced him. But another M.P., began,
in a different key. “You are correct Panditji! There
is every need for maintaining decorum, and decency in
diction. And more than that, we should control our temper.”
“Oh! All cannot to be as patient, as you are! Panditji!
You know not our friend’s nature. There are many who
abuse him—they call him, corrupt, job-hunting. In fact,
there are any number of strikes in his factory. He is
dubbed as Exploiter, a communalist. But he never gets
enraged. He is able even to smile. But do you know Panditji
what the people say? They do not admire him for this
quality, but argue, that he cannot deny anyone of the
charges; hence his silence.”
How very irritating his attitude was, I cannot state.
He simply wanted to damn this M.P. in my presence.
“Oh! Accusations do not affect me at all. Why, the people—at
least a section of them—say all sorts of disparaging
things about our Panditji! Is his prestige lowered on
that account? No! On the other hand. Panditji’s prestige
has grown by leaps and bounds.”
I had to allow everyone of them to present his point
“No other leader has achieved so much of popularity—world
influence, as Panditji.”
"But, we should not place too much faith in flatterers."
"Leave aside the flatters; don't we have solid
"But, people nowadays get dazzled by the remarkable
achievements of Nazzer."
"Even Russia, has given him a Royal welcome."
"And yet, he has the courage to say, that society
in Russia differs from the Arab society."
"Nasser's tour of Russia was something in the shape
of a triumph."
"He defied the British—taught them a lesson."
"Yes! Even Uncle Sam was taught a lesson."
"His greatest achievement is this U.A.R."
"Wonderful! He has become the unquestioned leader
of the Arab world."
I cannot but become annoyed. Not that I disliked, their
eulogy paid to one of my very close friends, Nasser.
But it was bad politics. Nasser is Nasser because he
has been allowed to give a go-bye to democracy. They
should have pointed out this difference—fundamental
difference. But what to do! Most of these M.P.s. are
not bestowing their thought over all the trends. They
are ready to pay homage to those on whom the lime-light
falls. I wanted to tell them these facts. But would
they relish that? No! They are not in a mood to relish
such stuff. Somehow, they seem to think, that I have
asked them to come and have a chat with me, just to
strengthen my position. As a matter of fact, I wanted
to meet them, so that they can get the benefit of my
advice. They have misunderstood the whole scheme. Oh!
They exhibit their petty minds. But even this has been
of some help to me. From a talk with them, I understand,
that there are as many groups in the Parliament as there
are Ministers. What a sorry state of affairs! I should
first attempt, to break these inner rings—these circles
within circles! Democracy is endangered by such inner
circles. Some of my colleagues have got leisure enough
to have constant contact with some of these M.P.s. Of
course, any minister has got vast opportunities of satisfying,
of enticing, of helping! Why, even such an obnoxious
man as this Mundhra, had the chance of getting the friendship
of some of the top-men. I am always on the move! Hence
I have no chance of getting around me, these M.P.s.
So naturally, rings are formed! Well, if they are links
in a chain, it is to be welcomed! Such links are to
be even encouraged! But, when they become so many clogs
in the wheel, well, the machinery won't work. That seems
to be exactly the position. I have taken elaborate notes,
from out of the talk. It seems to be—I may be a bit
exaggerating—that what obtains today here, seems to
be exactly like what was to be found in the Moghul Era.
Of course, the pomp and pageantry, grandeur and glory,
I immensely like. But the other aspect—secret conclaves,
combines—all that sort of machinations that marred the
Moghul Era—they are not to be encouraged. As these talks
continue I propose to meet more of them—I would be in
possession of all the facts—all the details—then I could
act—and act I would certainly. I am neither old nor
feeble. But before I get all the facts, I should suffer
even some amount of impudence. Some of these men are
impertinent. They think that I am attempting to draw
strength from them. They are not able to understand
my method. I allow them to have a talk—to their hearts'
content—so that I might gather, all the facts about
my colleagues, and those at State levels.
A beginning has been made. If only I could master patience,
I would most certainly gather all the information I
need. Saturday is going to be interesting, instructive.
And the more they talk with me, the lesser the prospect
of 'rings.' And if that is achieved, democracy is safe.
But, in the meantime, they are unleashing lot of impertinence.
One M.P. had the audacity to ask me, whether, I am growing
up Indhra Gandhi for leadership! What impudence! Should
they not, request me to train up Indhra for the task.
Ungrateful people! They suspect! They are sarcastic.
And they say that some of my colleagues are not happy
over the fact, that Indra Gandhi is given a seat in
some of the August bodies in the Congress party. And
yet, these men compete with one another in flattering
my daughter. I should inform Indhra to be on her guard.
It seems, that the new Finance Minister Mr. Moraji Desai,
when he visited Madras, was almost insulted by the State
Ministers—what can be done? One M.P., asks me, why I
should not take Kamaraj to task. Easy enough! To take
him to task, and lose a faithful servant! Do these people
want me to dig my own decay?
There was another curious question, "Did you appoint
the Deputy Minister, the Salem Man, without consulting
Kamaraj?" What a mischievous question? These people
exhibit a knack of creating all sorts of misunderstanding.
"We hear" says another M.P., "we hear
that this time the Madras Finance Minister exhibited
energy and independent spirit to an extent unknown before."
What possibly can be the answer. May be he was strong
in his remarks. That may be necessary for State consumption.
But look at the attitude of this M.P. He attributes
motive. My smile did not satisfy him. He asked me, if
I knew the fact, that the strong attitude of the Madras
Finance Minister, is because of the indirect influence
exercised by the D.M.K., in that State?
I do not know where from these people get such false
news—one M.P., asks me, whether I am going to ask Dhebar
to resign, and ask Kamaraj to become the Congress President.
I am not worried about these questions—most of these
are silly—but I shudder to think what sort of review
these people would give, in their private talk, with
their friends, about these 'Saturdays.' But I will have
to take the risk — so long as it does not undermine
the position. Till I detect any such danger, these Saturdays
are to be continued. They are pregnant with possibilities.
And I mean recording my impressions, about these Saturdays.
The Diary of a Democrat, will be of immense benefit,
— well for all.
I should of course admit that some of them are awed
into silence when I narrated instances to disprove some
of the unfair statements levelled to discredit me. One
such statement is well known—that I have been too long
in power. In fact when I first mooted that point, I
was almost certain that some of my friends well-versed
in current politics, would refute my argument by quoting
instances of leaders holding on to power for a much
longer period. But I am still to understand the reason
why none of them came forward with such instances.
So when our discussion centred around this topic, I
told them, that though there is some amount of truth
in the statement that I have been in power for a fairly
long period, there are instances to prove that there
are some who have been in power for a much longer period.
This hint, thought I, would be taken up, and these friends
of mine would broadcast the same.
"Friends! Now one other point that we have to consider
is this: has some sort of staleness set in, because
of my remaining too long in power?" — I began,
and to my surprise many of them wanted me to remain—the
only change they needed was, that I should distribute
my power, decentralise it, delegate it. In short they
want me to remain as a titular head. Now this amounts
almost to an insult. I was a bit enraged, hence told
them that there are leaders who have been allowed to
remain in power for a very long period.
"Perhaps most of you are aware of this: Dr. Salazar,
Prime Minister of Portugal, celebrated last week, the
30th anniversary of his entry into the Portuguese government.
He is nearing seventy and there is none to either dispute
his authority or deride him for remaining in power for
such a long period. I explained. My friends were audacious.
They admitted the fact, but pointed out, that Dr. Salazar
has done some wonderful things for his country. He took
up office when there were distressing conditions. Government
expenditure was heavy; wealthy Portuguese sent away
their money abroad; there was a huge foreign liability;
there was food imports on a large scale — these were
the features. But Dr. Salazar the able economist that
he is, showed remarkable skill in safely plotting Portugal's
ship of state through all the storms.
It was with great difficulty that I was able to control
my temper. These men have got the cheeks to say in my
presence, that Dr. Salazar remains in power because
of his achievements and they think, though they have
not said it in so many words, that I cannot show any
such record. So that is the opinion these men have got
about me. No wonder they want me to remain in power,
after delegating the same to them.
Anyway, it is better to know their innermost thoughts
— they reveal many truths—hitherto unknown.