There is no doubt that Mahatma Gandhi was the biggest figure in the Indian Independence movement and we all owe him a gigantic debt. But he also may have made a few mistakes and here’s looking at some of them…
1. Chasing Netaji away: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Mahatma disagreed on the use of force against the British. Despite that Bose was elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1938.
That led to a confrontation and ultimately differences with Jawaharlal Nehru too. In the 1939 elections, Netaji was ill and the Mahatma used this opportunity to push his candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya. However Netaji came on a stretcher and defeated the Mahatma’s candidate.
The writing was on the wall. The leadership of the nation had passed from the Mahatma to Netaji. However instead of accepting it gracefully, the Mahatma camp played intense politics and forced Netaji to resign from the Congress.
2. Installing Nehru as Prime Minister: In terms of charisma, Netaji was probably the most able to lead the nation. He was the most popular too as his 1938-39 stint showed.
In hindsight if you read the writings of the leaders at that time, then C Rajagopalachari probably had the greatest vision.
In the vote for PM, Sardar Vallabhai Patel came first and JB Kriplani came second. The truth is that without the Mahatma, Nehru was nowhere in the picture.
Nehru laid the economic foundations for a country that went bankrupt in 1991 and India was forced into liberalisation. So much for vision! Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw has gone on record saying that Nehru was totally indecisive on Kashmir and it was Patel who made the push for us to secure it.
China was making all plans to annex Aksai Chin and Nehru wore blinkers. When war broke out, Nehru refused to use the IAF which many experts said was far superior the China’s Air Force.
When we finally lost it, Nehru had the gall to say that nothing grew there prompting an opposition leader to point out that nothing grew on Nehru’s head too!
He also formed something called the Non Aligned Movement which was hypocritical because we were firmly aligned with the USSR. Again Nehru backed the wrong horse when it collapsed in 1991 and we had a huge lot of problems relating to defence supplies and spares.
Neither was he popular within his party. Apart from Nehru and Patel, there were 10 members in the Cabinet and 6 quit.
So much for consensus! That move also laid the foundations for the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty which in fact can be called the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty because it was put in place by the Mahatma! In hindsight, Nehru was probably the worst choice for PM!
Image: Pandit Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi during the All-India Congress Committee session, August 8, 1942 / Wikimedia Commons