By Bhanupratap Shukla
October 2 is Gandhiji´s birthday. For Gandhiji, it was a perpetual case of sorrow and grievance that whoever he accepted, that person did not accept him. And those who accepted Gandhi, Gandhi did not accept them. The dream of a future India after the nation´s freedom, to which Gandhi was struggling to give shape, failed to attract those who were incapable of giving full devotion or else, it would possibly be more appropriate to say that, those who were his companions, they did not want to get too involved.
This faqir-leader who was so attached to the nation´s soil, culture and its people, was treated no more than a half-naked and an uncouth man by his political heirs. They were unable to revolt against him because Gandhi was the heartbeat of 90 per cent of the nation´s population, who like him, were half-naked and uncultured. Godse killed Gandhi only once and in a single moment Gandhi found release from the tortures of life. But his heirs had inflicted such deep wounds on his heart that his heart was completely sprayed. So Gandhi was forced to remark, ?Now no one listens to me. My utility has come to an end and probably I no longer have the strength to establish a new leadership which can build India´s future.?
These heirs of his had no sympathy to spare for Gandhi´s helplessness. They were happy that they had defeated Gandhi in his aim. When Gandhi was assassinated, they wept because had they not done so, what would have the world remarked? It was simply a question of regard for public opinion. Though Gandhi´s name was mentioned, they worked against Gandhi´s desires. The only work that they did was to clothe Gandhiji´s views in the garb of ?ism? to start a Gandhian brand of politics so that every now and then, according to their needs, they could exchange it in the form of a promissory note. Each and every part of Gandhi was sold in the market of politics and continues to be sold. Gandhi was made a political business. Today also the Congressmen are selling him and Gandhi is helpless at being sold.
Swatantra leader Jayaprakash Narayan had related that once Nehru had invited him for a discussion and in the process of their talks, remarked, ?Jaya-prakash, you become my companion. If you want to enter the government, then you can become the Deputy Prime Minister. I really need you.? But Jayaprakash did not accept this offer of Nehru. Why? Jayparakash Narayan´s reply had been, ?Merely because there was the difference of earth and sky between Nehru and me in our basic dream for establishing a new India. Nehru´s social, cultural and economic thoughts carried the blinding light of Paris, Moscow, Washington. In my eyes were India´s starving, naked, illiterate, sick, poor villagers and villages destroyed. My belief was that if the villages progressed, the nation too could progress, but Nehru used to say that big industries and beautiful cities would earn for India respect in the world. My direct reply to Nehru was, ?This is against Gandhi´s beliefs. I will not be able to get along with you on the question of the nation´s reconstruction. We two are observing the plight of the nation by standing on opposite banks, though this alone is not the reason. A more serious and bigger reason is the difference in our views. You see India not with the eyes of an Indian but with Western eyes while my eyes see India only. These are the eyes of India´s poor in which there is place for Western progress, but not for its ideal?.?
On reaching the last phase of his life, Nehruji realised Gandhiji´s social, cultural and economic truth. In 1962, he accepted his mistake in the Lok Sabha. Said he, ?Probably Gandhiji was correct in saying that the initial step in reconstruction should have begun with the village.?
When Jayaprakash got up to leave, Nehru said, ?Okay, Jayaprakash tell me, should not the Prime Minister of such a big country like India reside in a big and beautifully decorated Raj Bhavan so that leaders of the world are taken aback on seeing it? Does not the prestige of India and its Prime Minister increase with this??
Jayaprakash had replied, ?Nehruji! India´s prestige does not increase with its Prime Minister´s grand residence; it will increase with the social, cultural and economic status of India´s people and at the simplicity and honesty of its leadership. This is the nation of kings like Videh and Rama. It is the land of ascetics and saints like Chanakya.? Nehruji became silent and Jayaprakash left him. Godse had shot his bullet in Gandhiji´s perishable physical body, but Nehruji had wounded his immortal soul.
Gandhiji desired that on attaining freedom the new architects of the nation would live in the villages. From the villages would begin the campaign and movement for the nation´s prosperity. Four decades before achieving Independence, in 1908, he had chalked out a plan for the future India of his dreams. He repeatedly kept on laying emphasis on his signature campaign for ?Hind swarajya? (India´s freedom). When he saw Independence nearing then on October 5, 1945, he wrote to his successor Jawaharlal for the last time, ?At this moment I do not have the ?Hind swarajya? which I had written in 1908, but I am not a wee bit worried that what I had written at that moment will be any different to this letter of mine. The important point is what is my current belief? I believe that if India has to achieve genuine indepen-dence, then currently or in the future we will have to live in the huts of the villages; not in palaces. It would invariably be impossible for crores of people to live happily and peacefully in the cities.?
In reply to this letter of Gandhiji, Jawaharalal had written, ?In brief my belief is that the question in front of us is not of truth against falsehood or ahimsa against violence …what I am unable to follow is how can the villages be an integral and essential part of truth and ahimsa? A village is normally backward from the cultural and intellectual angle. Progress cannot be achieved in a neglected and backward environment. People with a narrow view are more likely to be liars and cruel. For progress and growth, need is for the most modern means of transport and other works of development. We have to reach the heights of growth; apart from this there is no other way out. And if this is so, we will have to accept the importance of large industries. Would this be possible in the rural society? ?Hind Swaraj? I had read thirty-eight years ago. Then also it had seemed unnatural to me. During our discussions when you had mentioned that the old picture was still present in your mind then I had been surprised to hear of it.?
Gandhiji used to write his letters to Nehru in Hindi (Hindustani) language. Along with it he used to send his English translation too so that his successor could comprehend what he actually wanted to convey. But for Nehru Hindi was the language, not of the nation, but of the backward, uncultured and uneducated people. For him, the language of the nation and administration was English. No contact and connection remained between language and feelings. Probably due to this, neither could understand the other very often.
The nation understood Gandhi and Gandhi understood the nation, but his appointed successor could not understand either. On reaching the last phase of his life, Nehruji realised Gandhiji´s social, cultural and economic truth. In 1962, he accepted his mistake in the Lok Sabha. Said he, ?Probably Gandhiji was correct in saying that the initial step in reconstruction should have begun with the village.?
This acceptance by Nehruji however proved of no use. Because by then the Congress rule had begun to pose a cultural challenge as the party believed that if it had to stay in power, it was necessary to let the villages remain in poverty. If the happiness of power had to be enjoyed then let the villagers sleep. If the villages were to arise, and if, they were to take to the path of Gandhiji, then Congress would have to relinquish its powers. Pay lip service to Gandhiji´s name but never let Gandhi come to this earth… Use Gandhi as a business proposition but do not follow him.
This advice of the partymen was accepted by Gandhi´s successors. Really, we miss Gandhi a lot. Some remember him out of necessity while some due to their sanskar (culture). Poor Gandhi without his physical presence is hapless. His successors are eating away at his entails. They are enjoying the luxuries of power. The country is being destroyed. The failure to select his rightful heir was suffered by not Gandhi alone; the entire country is suffering because of it.