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HVK Archives: Serving the nationalist press - Excerpts from Curson to Nehru & After

Serving the nationalist press - Excerpts from Curson to Nehru & After - Rupa paper Book

Durga Das ()

Title : Serving the nationalist press - Excerpts From Curzon to Nehru & After
Author : Durga Das
Publication : Rupa paper Book
Date : 1969

The provincial committee had recommended Gandhi and
Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel for the presidentship of the
Congress. Gandhi who had resumed the party's active
leadership at the previous session, was expected to
welcome the nomination of the hero of Bardoli, his most
dependable lieutenant. When Gandhi announced his prefer-
ence for Jawaharlal, the general body of Congressmen,
especially the senior leaders who felt they had been
superseded, were astonished. For one thing, it was con-
sidered odd that a son should succeed his father to the
Congress throne, and for another there was regret that
Sardar Patel's outstanding services had been overlooked.

Having learnt from private inquiries that Gandhi had
succumbed to pressure from Motilal, I sought Gandhi's
version. The Mahatma pointed out that Motilal had repeat-
ed with greater emphasis the argument put forward in his
letter of July 1928 that Jawaharlal represented youth and
dynamism. He had agreed with Motilal, and the choice was
particularly appropriate when the Congress was about to
launch a fresh struggle. He added that Sardar Patel would
be with him in any case and that he was strengthening the
movement by bringing Jawaharlal in as an active leader.
The Sardar would be the obvious choice for the next

It is certain that Gandhi's decision marked a turning-
point in the history of modern India. A dying man, Moti-
lal was naturally eager to see Jawaharlal Congress Presi-
dent in his own lifetime. Azad expressed to me the feel-
ing that "Jawaharlal would make a great appeal to Muslim
youth." But the effect of Gandhi's decision was to iden-
tify the family with the nation. There is little doubt
that this identification was a factor in the choice of
Nehru as the first Prime Minister of free India and of
his daughter Indira as the third.

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