Communal Partition Was a Big Blunder

It was on June 14, 1947 that the All India Congress Committee gave its approval to Mountbatten's plan for partition of the country. While giving reasons for accepting the Partition by the Congress Party, Jawahar Lal Nehru told the British Author, Leonard Mosley 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, prison obviously awaited us…"


Gandhi pleaded with Congressmen to accept Pakistan

This statement unravels Nehru's own state of mind at that time and that of the Congressmen in general. There were many Congressmen who were older than Nehru, but still they were neither tired, nor exhausted. They were still ommitted to continue the struggle for independence of united India. The chair, on which Nehru's eyes were riveted, was of course ot in the field of vision of these people. 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 would again come, or even if it came, 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 presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru had taken a vow on the banks of River Ravi to struggle for complete independence (Poorna Swaraj) of India. But when the last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten threw the bait to Nehru that “Dominion Status” under the British Crown could be granted within two to three months, whereas complete independence could take a year or so, Nehru buckled. Prime ministership within two months!! Nehru could not resist the lure of the 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 the Congress Working Committee also who had agreed to the Partition. But it is also correct that it was Nehru who was the 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 would be able to persuade other members of the Congress Working Committee to accept the Partition. Such was his clout and position in the party. And Nehru did successfully persuade the members of the Congress Working Committee to agree to the Partition and the dominion status when the matter came up before them for decision later on. But approval for the same from All India Congress Committee (AICC) members was not easy. Most members of AICC were opposed to the vivisection of the motherland. They were inspired by the slogan ‘Vande Mataram’ (salutation to the mother) during the freedom movement. How could they agree to a proposal that sought the axing of the 'mother', they had been 'saluting' all these years? Hence, Nehru looked up to Gandhi for deliverance. The Partition proposal came up on June 14 in the AICC meeting for approval, which had been accepted earlier by the CWC. Had the AICC withheld its approval, there would have been no Partition and no prime ministerhsip for Nehru. Nehru did not want to take any chance. He persuaded Gandhi to be present in the meeting to ensure that Partition was approved by AICC. Gandhi participated in the meeting of June 14, 1947 as a special invitee. Most of the members of the Committee 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 did not want freedom that disintegrates the country and that he was prepared to continue the struggle. He was wildly and widely applauded. Their applauds were loud and clear, declaring their resolve against the Partition. Gandhi was the last to speak. He said, “The Working Committee on your behalf has accepted the 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 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 do not divide the hearts then what the Congress Working Committee has done, has been well done...?” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 88, pp 153-155). Gandhi silenced everybody. Their voices were muzzled in their throats. Gandhi was worshipped like a God by all his 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 favour 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 favour 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 the All India Congress Committee. Then why did he decide to attend the June 14 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 June 14, he could have refused. But he could not do so, for the reason he had told Manu, just before the meeting; “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”. Gandhi, 'the captive of love of Nehru' , did not have the heart 'to break the heart' of Nehru, by not attending the AICC meeting. But he did have the heart “to break the country” For this reason he attended the meeting and ensured the approval for Partition, paving the way for Nehru to become Prime Minister. Sometimes very personal reasons change the course of history. If Gandhi did not have blind infatuation for Nehru, the type that blind King Dhritrashtra of Indian epic, 'Mahabharata', had for his son Duryodhan, the country might have been spared the trauma of Partition that took the toll of over a million lives in its wake. The truth hurts. Most people like to dwell in the idyllic make-believe world of their own, instead of facing the truth. Yet truth must prevail. It has to be accepted that Gandhi could have halted the momentum towards vivisection of the country. He did not do so. Instead, he actively pleaded and appealed for the Partition of the country on communal basis. The history will not exonerate him.

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