Pt. Nehru Stems the tide of communalism

Jawaharlal nehru statewatch Wed, 22 Jun 2016

Pt. Nehru Stems the tide of communalism

A democratic country can be called truly democratic only if there is no discrimination based upon religion, community, caste and colour. When the English fully realized that there was no way except leaving this country, they began to promote and conspire with the communal forces. Their deceitful efforts succeeded and at last India was divided on the basis of religion. But the Congress leadership formulated such policies which laid the foundation of a country which remains secular in nature and provide equal rights to all the citizens of the country. 

Pandit Nehru and the top leadership of the Congress Party started to build the society based upon equality and tolerance. The Congress Party made countless efforts to change the status of crores of Indians, badly ridden with inequality and discrimination.

The Indian National Congress was founded with an aim to establish an egalitarian society. The Congress Party passed a resolution to eradicate untouchability. Mahatma Gandhi was inspired by this move and he founded “Dalit Sevak Sangh”. In 1931, when RSS and Muslim League were busy in propagating their communal agenda, the top leaders the Congress Party were promoting India and Indianness. In this session, the Congress unanimously passed a resolution which bestowed
equal opportunity to every citizen without any discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, sex and birth. The resolution later paved the way for the right to equality and the right against exploitation.

In the Karanchi session, safeguarding rights of minorities, right to education and culture, right to form an organization, adult franchise, inclusive industrial development and socialism were accepted. Almost all ideologies were included in the Indian Constitution which shows the commitment of the
Congress Party towards welfare of the state and nation-building. On one hand, the Congress Party was busy with establishing such progressive
values on the other, the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha were propagating communal thinking of Middle-Ages. These organizations came into power
thrice but they haven’t changed their politics and communal agenda.

India is known all over the world for its commitment to democratic values and as a secular state but its image is being tarnished due to intolerance; and as a country that propagates communalism. But sadly, the Modi government seems to be least concerned about it. The Congress Party is of the opinion
that democracy and secularism will win at last. This is the reason why the people belonging to every religion, caste and community are joining the Congress Party. Saddened with the Hindu Communalists, the great educationist, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar found reflection of his thoughts in the Congress ideology. That was the main reason that he became a close associate of the Congress Party and shaped up the proposals of the Congress Party in the Constitution. This way Baba Saheb and the Congress Party took several initiatives in the direction of eradicating, social and economic disparities, be it through providing reservations to Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs, or through ensuring entries to all into the temples, be it supporting everybody’s right to worship in any temple or be it the issue of women empowerment. Right since its inception, the top leadership of the Party showed unique vision in establishing, the democratic
values and from the view point of the prevailing socio-economic background, the maturity reflected by Congress top leaders through their actions and thinking remains unparalleled. These people knew that a healthy democratic system is possible only when there is no discrimination in rights and opportunity.

The leaders of the Congress Party were filled with this kind of perception, and devoted themselves in building up an India based on the ideals of social harmony, equality and secularism. The communalism turned out to be the biggest challenge in their way of creating such a social system.

For the Congress leadership, the communalism was always perceived to be the most destructive mind-set eating into the roots of social values and secularism. They firmly believed secularism to be free from state power and politics and viewed it as an individual matter of faith. For this vision, it is also
equally important that the state power does not discriminate between citizens on the basis of caste or religious. While the communalism is an ideology that believes in the country fragmented along the religious identities. In other words we can say that communalism is based on a belief system through 
which society, economy and politics are analyzed. In the form of ideology it is a fusion of racism and Fascism, that is why the communalism seeks to spread the communal belief system as their interests are served by inspiring and organizing communal violence rather than indulging in violence themselves. Their
purpose does not lie in fomenting carnage but to create a conducive atmosphere that inculcates communalization in the minds of common people.

The Congress Party and its leaders have been fully understanding the minds of these elements, so they never encouraged such elements. This was the biggest victory of the national freedom movement under the Congress Party that despite the partition and following communal bloodshed Indians did not give up
their strong belief in democratic values and expression. It was established in the Constitution and prepared the nation for a secular governance and the society. The ideal of secularism reached its pinnacle in the decade of 1950 as a heritage of freedom struggle, martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, the total
commitment of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru towards secularism as well as the proactive support of leaders like Maulana Azad, C. Rajgopalachari and others. During the General Elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962 the communal party received a severe drubbing. In a way it was the victory of Congress ideology
and values it held close to its heart. During these years, the communal parties were pushed to the margins and the Congress Government under Jawahar Lal Nehru remained busy in restructuring India’s future on different fronts social, economical, educational as well as science and technology
apart from industrialization among others.

During the final days following independence India and Nehru government was faced with a difficult situation. The partition of the country gave birth to a different set of instantly cropped up problems. The most challenging task was to contain the eruption of communal bloodshed, the rehabilitation of
crores of bereaved Indians who had to flee to India leaving everything behind as refugees, the spreading epidemic of communal violence and the resultant scare mongering.

In the true sense of term, the year 1947 was the year engulfed by communal clashes. It was ravaged by mindless communal carnages. The minority communities in both India and Pakistan were subjected to unfold atrocities. Around five lakh people and unaccountable amount of properties perished during the
span of just a few months. Over Eight lakhs people had to migrate to each other country from India and Pakistan, such was the scale of catastrophe. The communal fire threatened to shake the very foundation of the social structure, it had almost ruined India. Even Delhi could not remain immune to it and
many parts of the capital witnessed looting, destructions and killings for many days.

This way, the people and the country had to face difficult situations during the initial days of the freedom itself. But the biggest danger that loomed large was the fear that the popular mind-set changed after the communal wild fire might not permeate in the psyche of the common masses and perpetuate the feelings of communal thinking and strengthen it. But thankfully, Pandit Nehru’s deft handling of the situation succeeded in emerging victorious from the baptism
by fire. Broadly speaking Nehru and other senior Congress leaders managed not to let the people lose nerves and did not allow their commitment to secularism get affected and thus succeeded in stemming the communal fide despite the mounting pressures of divisive communal sentiments. It wasnot a mean achievement. Pandit Nehru had to mobilize all resources of his command that included even threat to resign from the premiership.

Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru-led Congress Government took the bold political and administrative measures and brought the situation under control.
The record of the Congress Government in dealing with the communal riots has been unparalleled. The government was also successful is safeguarding the interests of the minorities. It is best reflected by the fact that 4.5 crores of Muslims preferred India to Pakistan as their motherland. Indians
started distancing themselves from communal thion Kind that paved the way for adoption of a fully secular constitution in 1950.

The biggest contribution of the Congress Party has been its setting up a secular, democratic society and the constitution which is considered to be as ideal by the whole world. The communal forces want to demolish this democratic structure only.

Though the Congress Party did succeed in controlling and weakening the communal forces, which had surged just after India got freedom but they are yet to finish off completely because the circumstances still remained conducive for its revival.

Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Congress Party leaders used to treat communalism as the biggest threat to a democratic country and it can be abolished through a long and sustained struggle against it. Nehru understood it in the best way. Describing communalism as on “Indian Version of Fascism”
Pt. Nehru had said in 1947 the tide of the Fascism that is taking the country under its grip is the direct consequences of the hate speeches given against Non-Muslims to provoke them by the Muslim League and its supporters for years. Now it is gaining popularity among Hindus and a demand for a Muslim state is a
clear expression of such thinking.

Pandit Nehru launched a broad-based campaign against it so that sense of security could be restored among the people of Minority could be restored among the people of Minority Communities. He adopted different modes for it through speeches in public rallies broadcast on Radio, speeches in the Parliament as well as writing personal letters to the Chief Ministers and writing specially for this cause. He kept on repeating that no other state except a secular one can exist in India. The commitment and determination towards secularism were among Congress leaders and Pandit Nehru himself that on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary in 1951 he said that if a person attacks another on the issue of religions, I will fight against that person till the end of my life in the capacity of both – being the head of the government and as a true Indian. He advocated for ban on the organization based on religion and enabled the government by getting the Constitution amended to exercise restraining power to suppress the communal writings and communally provocative speeches.
Pt. Nehru got full support in his fight against communalism from leaders like Sardar Vallab Bhai Patel and C. Rajgopalachari.

For example, Patel declared in Jaipur Session of the Party that the Congress was dedicated to upholding secularism at any cost. “India is a true secular country”. He described the talk of “Hindu Rajya as an act of Insanity” in 1949. In 1950 while addressing the public he said, “India is a secular country. Every Muslim should think that he is a citizen of India and enjoys equal rights. It we fail to make them feel so, we do not deserve to have the legacy of the country.”

The communal forces received a severe jolt on January 30, 1948 when a fanatic Hindu communalist Nathuram Godse killed the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi. The whole country went into mourning and the sentiments for communal thinking vanished. Whole County was in shock. Considering the communal and violent ideology that the RSS was spreading against the Mahatma and Secularism, it became evident that it was these elements that killed Mahatma Gandhi. RSS had even celebrated the killing at many places. Keeping in it mind, the government banned the RSS and put many of its leaders and workers under arrest
virtually Pandit Nehru continuously described the RSS as a Fascist force right from the beginning of freedom. For instance, wrote in December 1947 “We have various evidences that show that RSS is like an organization that works along the line of a private army and which is acting like a Nazi force in sprit and
even adopting it techniques.”

However, despite all this the government took into consideration the issue of the freedom of citizen while dealing with the RSS. The RSS had accepted the conditions laid down by Sardar Patel as the Home Minister. After this the ban on it was lifted. The conditions were as follows: The RSS will respect the writ and published form of the Constitution, will restrict its activities to cultural aspect itself and will never try to indulge in political activity; will give up violence and secrecy; will honour the Indian Flag and the Constitution and will organize itself as a pro-people organization.

In the meantime, the Congress government was also facing Pakistan’s disturbance. Alongwith the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, another major reason of tension between the two countries was the sense of insecurity among Hindus of East Bengal, which was being fanned out by the Pakistan’s open communal agenda. The result was the exodus of oppressed Hindus from East Bengal to West Bengal and that of the Muslims of West Bengal to East Bengal. In this situating
many people demanded the government to make military intervention to protect the interests of the minorities. But Pandit Nehru held his nerve despite being greatly worried about the growing communalism in West Bengal and the fate of the Hindus living in East Bengal and tried to solve the issue on the
humanitarian ground. Though stern action was taken against those attacking Muslims coming to West Bengal, he requested the Pakistan government to ensure security to the Hindus living in East Bengal so that they could continue to live there.

Nehru repeatedly said that it is the duty of the government of every nation to ensure the security to minorities. He went to the extent of deciding to resign from the post of the Prime Minister following Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy and visited East Bengal as a simple citizen.

A treaty was signed between the Indian and the Pakistan PMs on April 8, 1950, which is known as Nehru-Liaquat treaty. However, it was rejected by the Hindu communalists.

But it was accepted in the country on broad basis. Normally, Indian government always tried to improve bilateral relations with Pakistan and above all tried its best to end the feelings of animosity and hatred and followed this poling till date. Pandit Nehru continued to assure the people of Pakistan that India
did not look at them as enemy and nor do they want to burnt them. It was the purpose of this policy to rating the secularism as India’s character and give it strength which was being threatened by Hindu communalists. And it was achieved after a long struggle. The top leadership of the Congress Party always
tried that there should be no clash between the minorities and majority sections and that there showed by social solidarity is in society. Despite all efforts of the Congress leader to get rid of communalism. Today for political gain communal appeal has become a necessary evil. The BJP and RSS leaders by
adopting the politics of polarization, are throwing cold water on the efforts of countless Congress leaders who tried their best to keep India off communalism. It has appeared to be like a great menace to Indian political system. The reason behind these forces making appearances is that communal thinkers continue to work at it and organizations like the RSS, the Jan Sangh, the BJP, the Jamaat-e-Islamic, continue to nurture this
ideology for political gain.

From the mid 1960’s the divisive forces in Indian politics started rising and a large number of people started to be influenced by such thinking and ideology of communalism and casteism. Jan Sangh increased its strength from 14 MPs in 1962 to 35 in 1967. It became partner in government formation in different states and received major supports in rural parts of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. But wherever it grew stronger, the number and seriousness of communal darkness both increased. With General Election of 1971, Smt. Indira Gandhi again held the ground and the Jan Sangh’s strength
was dented and its number of seats came down from 35 to 22. Towards the end of 1971, the communal forces received a severe jolt but the feeling of communal in and communal violences again started rising after 1978. The disturbing aspect of this politics of polarization is it the growing communal
violence and it galloping impact. It was almost all parts of the country as well as important cities which have slipped under its control. Besides, it has spread to those areas as well which have been communally peaceful Communal violence has spread to villages and other groups of religion too have joined hands. Now, the communal violence is taking place in a well-planned and organized manner as well as its getting longer-longer. Due to the conspiracies of these forces violence continued to rage on for weeks and months. They have huge money, more fire powers and explosives. It is interesting to note that during 1975-77 when most of leaders of the RSS, Jan Sangh and Jamaat-e- Islamic had been put behind bars the incidences of communal clashes had been negligible. On the other hand during the Janta Party’s regime there were spurt in communal clashes because the RSS and the BJP had strong hold over the government.

Unfortunately if communal force emerged stronger after 1967 it was because the secular parties like the Socialist Party and a few others did not bother in joining hands with the Jan Sangh. It was the first instance of the political alliance and it formed  the non-Congress governments in many North Indian States. In 1974-75 Jai Prakash Narayan allowed all such elements like Jan Sangh and Jamaat-e-Islamic to come together with other secular forces in his Total Revolution launched against Indira Gandhi’s regime. The Jan Sangh and other parties merged into the Janta Party. Similarly V.P. Singh in 1989 too forged an
indirect alliance with the BJP and formed the government at the centre with its support even the Communist Party extended support to V.P. Singh alongwith the BJP.

This kind of soft attitude towards communal forces weekend the social fabric of India and destroyed the legacy of secularism that Pt. Nehru and other leaders had managed to keep alive as India’s legacy. Though Pt. Nehru and others might not have succeeded in ending the communal virus, at least their efforts made the term “Communalism” as a sin… a blot.

The credit goes to the leaders of the Congress Party that despite living in an era marked by intense political opportunism and polarization attempts from various quarters, most of the Indians still remain secular. They could not be communalized.

And it was the reason that restricted the spread of communal feelings and maintained the ideal of secularism fundamentally. Indian politics continued to be secular and anti-communal reality during the entire span of the Congress rule in the country. Though the BJP and RSS played its communal card as an easy tool to grab power and did succeed but those who voted for them were not inspired by communal thinking, but they voted for them in reaction to their disgust with the incumbent government. The Congress Party and its leaders established the ideal of secularism on such a sure foundation that despite making all out efforts for such a long-time, the communal forces are yet to make deep inroads to the psyche of most Indians who still have strong faith in secular ideology.

It explains why it took such a long-time to garner the support it is having today despite starting off towards the end of 19th Century. Why did it take such a huge time-lag in getting a standing it has now achieved. It was because of the relentless efforts by the Congress Party’s top leaders to ward off this evil
and kept a constant watch on such activities. So far a secular credential of the Indian nations state, the hope ultimately hinges on the Congress. And this has been the biggest contribution of the Congress Party during the freedom struggle as well as after securing that freedom