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In Indira's Footsteps: Will History Repeat Itself?
|by Rajinder Puri|
Last week this column suggested that the Congress should be buried
Some elaboration is in order. Many Hindutva supporters seek only Mrs. Sonia Gandhi's defeat or removal. They are pathetic. It is immaterial whether she wins or loses in Rae Bareili. She is not the problem. She is the symptom of a problem. She did not create our grotesque political culture. She is its creation. She is the culmination of a century's decadence and subservience to foreign influence.
There is a common misconception that the Partition of India against which the Congress had pledged itself became inevitable because of communal riots. That flies on the face of established facts. It is true that Bengal was witness to riots since Jinnah's call for Direct Action in 1946. How ironical that Bengal went up in flames to prevent the proposed partition of the province by Lord Curzon decades before Independence, but became acquiescent when the same province was partitioned to become part of a new sovereign Pakistan!
In Punjab the Partition was scandalous. Communal riots had nothing to do with it. On June 2, 1947 the Congress officially accepted Partition. Being of school-going age I was at that time staying in my home town, Lahore, during transit from Karachi to Delhi. As a government official my father had been transferred. In Lahore I followed the radio commentaries of Wimbledon which is played in June end and July beginning. There was peace. Only after Independence, in late September 1947, did the British inspire riots in the Punjab to force a transfer of populations. They were furthering their post-war global interests. No wonder Independent India's first Punjab Chief Minister Bhimsen Sachar and Mr. IK Gujral's father, as members, attended the inaugural meeting of Pakistan's Constituent Assembly when Jinnah made his famous secular speech. Very few in Punjab had any intention of leaving their homes, before being compelled to do so by riots instigated by the British-commanded Baluch regiment and by outsiders who had moved into the province.
So, it should be clear, Sonia Gandhi is by no means the best example of the foreign hand. Our venerable heroes of the freedom struggle preceded her. By accepting Partition because of British pressure, and not because of riots, the Congress betrayed its pledge to keep India united. It lost its moral right to become the first government of independent India. There is no need to elaborate on this subject. Books have been written on it. Only one question needs to be addressed. How could Mahatma Gandhi have permitted this? Why did he go back on his pledge that Partition would take place only over his dead body?
And this is the most relevant extract from what Gandhi wrote on the back of an envelope to Mountbatten: 'Have I said one word against you in my speeches? If you admit that I have not, your warning is superfluous.'
In her maiden campaign speech in Rae Bareili Mrs. Gandhi said: 'I am enemy number one for many. After I resigned, others are silently helping each other to save themselves. My relation to Rae Bareili is not merely linked to elections. It is five generations old since the days of Motilal Nehru. You are like my family. I am a fighter. There is no looking back and there is no surrender'
This is harking back to the Garibi Hatao days of Indira Gandhi. Most people believe that it was the 'Remove Poverty' slogan which brought Indira Gandhi success. They are mistaken. The complete slogan in English and Hindi was: 'I say remove poverty. They say remove Indira. Now you decide. . (Main kehti hoo garibi hatao. Voh kehte hain Indira hatao. Ab faisla aap keejiye.)' It was the appeal of the innocent defenceless woman fighting a lone battle against the Syndicate ruffians. It worked. Not surprisingly, the woman vote in that election was exceptionally heavy.
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