THE BITTER TRUTH: GANDHI PLEADED WITH CONGRSSMEN TO ACCEPT THE PAKISTAN
It was on June 14, 1947 that the All India Congress Committee (AICC) had given its approval to Mountbatten’s plan, for partition of the country. While giving reasons for accepting the partition by the Congress Party, Jawaharlal Nehru told the British author Leonard Moseley in 1960; “The Truth is that we were tired men and we were getting on in years too. Few of us could stand the prospect of going to prison again-and if we would have stood out for a united India, as we wished it, prison obviously awaited us….”
This statement unravels Nehru’s own state of mind at that time and not that of the Congressmen who were more old than Nehru, but still they were neither tired, nor exhausted. They were still committed to continue the struggle for independence of united India. The chair, in which Nehru’s eyes were riveted, was of course not in the field of their vision. Nehru knew that if the Partition was accepted he would be the Prime Minister of India. The grandeur and glamour of the office were blinding his eyes. He did not want to lose this opportunity. If this was lost, there was no guarantee that it will again come, or even if it comes, it would be in his lifetime. Nehru had read history, He was aware of this unique opportunity of finding a place in history as India’s first Prime Minister. So he put everything on stake-country’s integrity and Congress goal of attaining ‘Poorna Swaraj. (Complete Independence)
In January 1930, Congressmen under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru had taken vow on the banks of river Ravi to struggle for Complete Independence (Poorna Swaraj) of India. But when last Victory of India Mountbatten threw bait to Nehru that ‘Dominion Status’ under the British Crown could be granted within 2-3 months, but, if it is refused, there was no guarantee that the ‘complete independence would definitely granted in its place. Nehru buckled. Prime Ministership within 2 months!! Nehru could not resist lure of office. Forgetting the vow taken on the banks of river Ravi, he grabbed ‘Dominion Status’. ‘Let the country be partitioned’- he must have thought, ‘Prime Ministership of half the country is better, than none at all’.
It is correct that it was not only Nehru, but many other members of Congress Working Committee (CWC) also had agreed to the partition. But it is also correct that it was Nehru who was first to give consent to the partition. Mountbatten, before sending his partition plan to London for approval had obtained Nehru’s informal assent to it. Nehru had assented without consulting or obtaining concurrence from any other Congress leader. He knew that he will be able to persuade other members of Congress Working Committee to accept the partition. Such was his clout and position in the party.
And Nehru did successfully persuade the members of CWC agree to the participation and the dominion status when the matter came before them for decision later on. But approval for the same from AICC was not easy. Most members of A.I.C.C. were opposed to the vivisection of the motherland. They were inspired by the slogan ‘Vande Mataram’ (Salutation to the mother) during freedom movement. How could they agree to a proposal that sought the axing the ‘Mother,’ they have been ‘saluting’ all these years? Hence Nehru looked up to Gandhi for deliverance.
The partition proposal came up on 14th June in A.I.C.C. meeting for approval, which had been accepted earlier by C.W.C. Had A.I.C.C. with held its approval, there would have been no partition and no Prime Ministership for Nehru. Nehru did not want to take any chance. He persuaded Gandhi to be present in the meeting to ensure that partition is approved by A.I.C.C.
Gandhi participated in the meeting of 14th June 1947 as a special invitee. Most of the members of the AICC were against the acceptance of the proposal. Many members openly assailed it and expressed their anguish. Rajrishi Purushottam Das Tandon was in the forefront of those opposing the move. He categorically said that he does not want freedom that disintegrates the country and that he was prepared to continue the struggle. He was wildly and widely applauded. Their applause was loud and clear declaring their resolve against the partition. Gandhi was the last to speak. He said, “The working Committee on your behalf accepted partition. Now we have to consider what our duty is… If the Congress Working Committee has done this, it has done so deliberately and for certain weighty reasons. And this decision has been taken jointly by the Congress, the Muslim League and the British Government. The Working Committee does not approve of the scheme in its entirety. But even so it has accepted it… If you reject it, the world will call you irresponsible. You must therefore go along with those who have acted on your behalf… It is most important that you should understand the times. The demand of the times is that we should bridle our tongues and do only what will be for India’s good… We have to draw something good out of this bad thing… If there is gold in mud, even if there is a lot of the mud and very little gold it should not be thrown away. We should draw out gold and diamonds even from mud… It does not matter if the land is divided. But if we divide the hearts then what the Congress Working Committee has done has been well done…”
(Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol-88 page 153-155)
Gandhi silenced everybody. Their voices were muzzled in their throats. Gandhi was worshipped like a god by all countrymen. It was Gandhi who had on many occasions earlier voiced his opposition to the partition. It was Gandhi who had said that the country could be partitioned only on his dead body. And when the very same Gandhi pleaded in favor of the partition, they did not know how to react. They were astounded. They were shocked. Their heads dropped. They, as advised by Gandhi, voted in favor of the partition, much against their will.
Gandhi was not a member of the Congress Party since 1934. He was also not a member of All India Congress Committee. Then why did he decide to attend the 14th June meeting? If he was really opposed to the partition, as he had earlier declared, he should not have attended the meeting.
Nehru was always Gandhi’s weakness. When Nehru invited Gandhi to participate in the All India Congress Committee meeting of 14th June, he could have refused. But he could not do so, for the reason he had told to Manu, just before the meetings: “I can see as through a crystal the sincerity and love in Jawahar… He would be heart-broken if I hesitated to attend the All India Congress Committee. He has made me a captive of his love”.
So this was the reason why Gandhi attended the AICC meeting. Gandhi, ‘the captive of love of Nehru’ did not have heart ‘to break the heart of Nehru’, by not attending the meeting He attended the meeting and ensured the approval for partition, paving way for Nehru to become the Prime Minister. To prevent the heart-break of Nehru, he broke the country.