When the Soviet Union denounced Pandit Nehru in 1948 as a puppet whom "American imperialism" was trying to prop up in place of the old "paper tiger", President Chiang Kai-shek of China, the Western nations, particularly the United States of America, had proclaimed immediately that Pandit Nehru was the "bulwark of democracy in Asia". But the Korean War was hardly half through when it was widely realised in the West that at least in the field of international politics Pandit Nehru was no friend of the West, and that his sympathies, whenever and wherever they became manifest, were always and all along with the communist camp. The West has, however, been bewitched by Pandit Nehru on another count. He seems to it to be the "only person who understands the dynamics of the modern world" in a "surging sea of superstition and primitivism that is India". Western statesmen and scribes have floated another myth also about him, namely that whatever the policies he pursues in the sphere of international politics, "at least inside India he is not prepared to tolerate Communism", and that "he is fighting the Communist Party of India tooth and nail". And in support of this new illusion, Western writers have been quoting his record of resistance to communist violence during 1948-50.
But if we examine Pandit Nehru's statements and behaviour all through this period, we find no evidence in support of this belief. In fact, all available evidence goes against any such supposition. We have seen how he was worshipping the Soviet Union and adhering to Soviet foreign policy all through this period. He never reacted against all that foul abuse which was heaped upon him by the Soviet camp without any provocation whatsoever on his part. He had not a word to say in condemnation of the Soviet grab in Eastern Europe and China, or against the Zhdanov line which neatly divided the world into two uncompromisingly hostile camps - the "camp of socialism and peace led by the Soviet Union", and the "camp of imperialism and war led by the United States of America".
Nearer home, he never saw eye to eye with Sardar Patel who as Home Minister in the Government of India and the strong man of the Congress Party, was the real author of that suppression of communist violence which saved India from becoming a prototype of Burma, Malaya and Indo-China in 1948-50. In fact, he never relished the strength shown by the Sardar during those fateful years. He said repeatedly that the real problem was not Communism but poverty and sociopolitical backwardness of the Indian masses. In his opinion, it was useless to try to suppress the communist movement so long as the economic and social problems of India were not solved. The differences that thus arose between him and Sardar Patel at that time assumed serious proportions and at one stage he almost decided to quit the Congress Party in order to form a platform of his own in collaboration with various leftist and crypto-communist elements and some disgruntled Gandhians. That was the genesis of the Democratic Front organised by Acharya Kripalani and Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, both of whom had left the Congress at his behest.
But, fortunately for Pandit Nehru and unfortunately for India, Sardar Patel died in December 1950, and the "Congress Right" which the Sardar had consolidated against Pandit Nehru before and after the election of Purushottama Das Tandon to the presidentship of the Congress, was left leaderless. The other stalwarts of the Sardar's camp turned out to be men of straw whose first preference was saving their personal position and power rather than doing service to their country. The only man, D.P. Mishra of Madhya Pradesh, who came out publicly against Pandit Nehru's swift shift of Congress policies towards Communism, was left in the lurch by this crowd of self-seekers and job-hunters, and hounded out of the Congress. And six months had hardly passed since the Sardar's death when the communist criminals, who had indulged in widespread arson and murder against the innocent peasantry in several parts of India, were brought out of jails like martyrs in the cause of humanism, and given a signal to get ready for the forthcoming First General Elections. Small wonder that they were soon to win unexpected victories.
This instance of Nehru-Communist collaboration in the domestic politics of India was neither the first nor the foremost of its kind. It was only a link in that long chain which was forged immediately after Pandit Nehru's first pilgrimage to the Soviet Union in 1927, and which is now leading the country blindfold into an inevitable Nehru-Communist coalition at the Centre in the next few years to come. Pandit Nehru has always nursed the Communist Party of India with the fondness of an old woman who gave birth to her first and only child at an advanced age. And if India allows him to wield power for a few more years, he will see to it that the Communist Party of India is safely installed in power. The pattern of Congress-Communist collaboration which is to emerge in due course has already been blueprinted by the Vijaywada Congress of the CPI held early this year (1961), and initially experimented with during the recent mid-term elections in Orissa.
Getting back to Pandit Nehru and his age-old collaboration with communism, we find that as soon as he returned from the Soviet Union at the end of 1927 he propounded the thesis that the Indian National Congress was a "party of the Indian bourgeoisie" and as such inevitably "bound to become an instrument of imperialism" if it was not "radicalised" by bringing into it "the revolutionary labour and peasant movements". It was another way of saying that the Communist Party of India, which was at that time the leader of whatever "revolutionary labour and peasantry" had raised their heads in India, should be brought into the Congress organisation. So he started courting the Communist Party which was at that time keeping away from the Congress and trying to build its own independent organisation.
He attended a session of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) held at Jharia in Bihar a few days before the Calcutta Session of the Congress in 1928. And he was immediately elected President of the AITUC against a worker candidate put up by the communist group. His own name had been proposed by the noncommunist section of the AITUC. He regretted this "infancy and weakness" of the Trade Union Movement in the following words: "It was my first Trade Union Congress and I was practically an outsider, though my activities amongst the peasantry, and lately amongst the workers, had gained for me a measure of popularity with the masses. I found the old tussle going on between the reformists and the more advanced and revolutionary elements. The main points at issue were the question of affiliation to one of the internationals, as well as to the League against Imperialism and the Pan-Pacific Union, and the desirability of sending representatives to the International Labour Office Conference at Geneva. More important than these questions was the vast difference in outlook between the two sections of the Congress. There was the old trade union group, moderate in politics and indeed distrusting the intrusion of politics in industrial matters. They believed in industrial action only and that, too, of a cautious character, and aimed at the gradual betterment of worker's conditions... The other group was more militant, believed in political action, and openly proclaimed its revolutionary outlook. It was influenced, though by no means controlled, by some communists and near-communists... My own sympathies at Jharia were with the advanced group but, being a newcomer, I felt a little at sea in these domestic conflicts of the TUC and I decided to keep aloof from them. After I had left Jharia and annual TUC elections took place, I learnt at Calcutta that I had been elected President for the next year. I had been put forward by the moderate group, probably because they felt that I stood the best chance of defeating the other candidate who was an actual worker (on the railways) and who had been put forward by the radical group. If I had been present at Jharia on the day of the election I am sure that I would have withdrawn in favour of the worker candidate. It seemed to me positively indecent that a newcomer and a non-worker should be suddenly thrust into the presidentship. This was in itself a measure of the infancy and weakness of the trade union movement in India".1
But the communist group was rather happy at this turn of events. Philip Spratt, who was leader of the CPI at that time, writes: "My recollection is that though the communist group put up a worker, or rather a railway clerk, against him, we were not displeased at his election. We did not regard him as one of us, but we recognised him as one who could be useful. The term was not yet current, or we should have called him a fellow-traveller."2
They had reason to be happy. Next year, Pandit Nehru was elected president of the Indian National Congress as well. And he used his position to "radicalise the Congress". He himself writes: "During these final weeks prior to the Lahore Congress I had to attend to important work in another field. The All India Trade Union Congress was meeting at Nagpur and, as president for the year, I had to preside over it. It was very unusual for the same person to preside over both the National Congress and the Trade Union Congress within a few weeks of each other. I had hoped that I might be a link between the two and bring them closer to each other-the National Congress to become more socialistic, more proletarian and organised Labour to join the national struggle. It was, perhaps, a vain hope, for nationalism can only go far in a socialistic or proletarian direction by ceasing to be nationalism. Yet I felt that, bourgeois as the outlook of the National Congress was, it did represent the only effective revolutionary force in the country. As such, Labour ought to bee it and cooperate with it and influence it, keeping, however, its own identity and ideology distinct and intact. And I hoped that the course of events and the participation in direct action would inevitably drive the Congress to a more radical ideology and to face social and economic issues... The advanced sections of Labour, however, fought shy of the National Congress. They mistrusted its leaders, and considered its ideology bourgeois and reactionary, which indeed it was, from the Labour point of view. The Congress was, as its very name implied, a nationalist organisation. Throughout 1929, Trade Unions in India were agitated over a new issue-the appointment of a Royal Commission on Labour in India, known as the Whitley Commission. The Left Wing was in favour of a boycott of the Commission, the Right Wing in favour of cooperation, and the personal factor came in, as some of the Right Wing leaders were offered membership of the Commission. In this matter, as in many others, my sympathies were with the Left."3
His efforts towards "radicalising the Congress" met with considerable success, mainly because the international communist line underwent a change in 1935 after a violent swing to the left in 1931-33. The new line, however, required the Communist Party of India to cooperate with the Congress. So a communist platform was crystallised inside the Congress. It was named Congress Socialist Party. Pandit Nehru was its leader for all practical purposes. He, however, never lent his name officially to this old model of the new Ginger Group. That was profitable for him as well as the Party because he could pass before the country as a non-factious leader, while all his power and prestige thus acquired came to the succour of the pro-Soviet forces. It was at the climax of this conspiracy that he paid his second visit to Europe in order to renew his direct contacts with international Communism. And when he came back to become President of the Indian National Congress for the second time in 1936, he made a definite bid to push the Congress in a communist direction.
Dr. Sitaramayya writes: "Jawaharlal came to India full of communistic and marxian ideas. The achievements of the Congress disappointed him. He found himself as one against the world. The resolution oh the agrarian programme was an apology for an ambitious scheme of social upheaval which he had been ardently hoping to commit the nation to. He made the best of the situation by taking three ardent socialists into the Working Committee-Shri Jayaprakash Narain, Narendra Deo and Achyut Patwardhan; even Sarojini Devi was cut out from the Committee not without some internal commotion and had to be called back only in the middle of the year when a casual vacancy arose. The spirit that prevailed in the Lucknow session could be judged from the omission of any resolution on the Constructive Programme. It may be remembered that it was only lately, that is, in Bombay (1934 October) that the resolution on A.I.V.I.A. (All India Village Industries' Association) was passed and one should have expected some reference to it somewhere. No, not that no one thought about the matter, but that when a draft was prepared and placed before the Working Committee, it did not find favour with it and it was dropped at the Allahabad meeting of the Working Committee shortly before the Lucknow Session."4
Again: "There was, however, a fundamental difficulty in the progress of events. The President was out of tune with the majority of the Working Committee.... On the one hand, there was his presidential address which was not meant to be a mere thesis but a programme of action. On the other, there was Gandhi with his following of ten members in the Working Committee thinking and acting as a solid block... The address pleaded for pure communism in a country which had had its mm traditions built up through at least a hundred and thirty centuries of progress, and a social structure which had, through these long ages, withstood the buffets of time and circumstances and which had worked itself into the life of the nation-religious, economic and ethical."5
But the majority of the Congress leadership was opposed to these foreign ideas. Pandit Nehru says: "For a short while I seemed to carry the Congress in the direction I wanted it to go. But I realised soon that the conflict was deep-rooted and it was not so easy to charm away the suspicion of each other and the bitterness that had grown in our ranks. I thought seriously of resigning from the presidentship but, realising that this would only make matters worse, I refrained... Again and again, during the next few months, I considered this question of resignation. I found it difficult to work smoothly with my own colleagues in the Congress executive, and it became clear to me that they viewed my activities with apprehension. It was not so much that they objected to any specific act but they disliked the general trend and direction. They had justification for this as my outlook was different. I was completely loyal to Congress decisions but I emphasised certain aspects of them, while my colleagues emphasised other aspects. I decided finally to resign and I informed Gandhiji of my decision."6
He has always been in the habit of threatening to resign. So far he has never resigned from any position of privilege and power, even if he feels baulked and ideologically circumvented. Like every true communist, he sticks to power and waits for his opportunity. As ever, in 1936 also he found an excuse for withdrawing his resignation. He writes: "Soon afterwards a far-away occurrence, unconnected with India, affected me greatly and made me change my decision. This was the news of General Franco's revolt in Spain. I saw this rising, with its background of German and Italian assistance, developing into a European or even a world conflict. India was bound to be drawn into that and I could not afford to weaken our organisation and create an internal crisis by resigning just when it was essential for us to pull together."7 What an excuse for staying in power!
Not only that. He readily agreed to become President of the Congress at the next session held in December 1937 at Faizpur. A majority of the Congressmen wanted Sardar Patel to preside over this session. But the Sardar had to withdraw under orders from Gandhiji and Pandit Nehru got in without a contest. And once again he played the communist game in the foreign policy resolutions of the Congress. The communists he had planted in the Foreign Department of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) were ready by now to supply the necessary drafts paraphrased from Comintern resolutions.
The year 1937 proved to be an year of torment for Pandit Nehru. The Congress had accepted office in several Provinces. But his communist friends in India and abroad wanted the Congress to fight the British Government in India so that the British Government in England may be pressed into forming a "Popular Front Government" on the French pattern. The Communist Party of India was leading labour, strikes and peasant agitations, particularly in Bombay and U.P. He was in sympathy with these communist moves, and felt angry with the Congress Ministries which were trying to keep law and order in the face of increasing communist violence. He writes: "This dissatisfaction found expression in the Congress itself and the more advanced elements grew restive. I was myself unhappy at the trend of events as I noticed that our fine fighting organisation was being converted gradually into just an electioneering organisation. A struggle for independence seemed to be inevitable and this phase of provincial autonomy was just a passing one. In April 1938 I wrote to Gandhiji expressing my dissatisfaction at the work of the Congress Ministries. "They are trying to adapt themselves far too much to the old order and trying to justify it. But all this, bad as it is, might be tolerated. What is far worse is that we are losing the high position that we have built up, with so much labour, in the hearts of the people. We are sinking to the level of ordinary politicians'."8
Again: "So conflict grew within the Congress between the more moderate and the more advanced sections. The first organised expression of this took place in a meeting of the All India Congress Committee in October 1937. This distressed Gandhiji greatly and he expressed himself strongly in private. Subsequently he wrote an article in which he disapproved of some action I had taken as President....... I felt that I could not longer carry on as a responsible member of the executive but I decided not to do anything to precipitate a crisis. My term of office as Congress President was drawing to an end and I could drop out quietly then. I had been President for two successive years and three times in all. There was some talk of my being elected for another term but I was quite dear in my own mind that I should not stand."9
The first time he ever resigned from a position in the Congress was when, in spite of his public protests, Subhas Chandra Bose decided to contest presidential election, and defeated his close companion, Maulana Azad. He now feared that the Congress was in danger of becoming a "fascist organisation". He resigned from the Working Committee and issued a public statement on February 22, 1938: "In spite of my long association with the Congress I have never been closely associated with any particular group in it, though I have had the privilege of cooperating with all kinds of people. I have been an individual in this great organisation and that is always a difficult task. Often I have felt that I was a square peg in a round hole. During the years of my office I have frequently been on the verge of resigning because I felt that I could serve the Congress better if I did not have the responsibility of office. But I refrained from doing so, as I was firmly convinced that in the dynamic and critical times we live in we must present a united front and subordinate our individual opinions where these tended to impair that front. I have been and am a convinced socialist and a believer in democracy, and have at the same time accepted wholeheartedly the peaceful technique of non-violent action which Gandhiji has practised so successfully during the past twenty years. I am convinced that strength can only come to us from the masses, but that strength either for struggle or for the great work of building a new world must be a disciplined and orderly strength. It is not out of chaos or the encouragement of chaotic forces that we can fashion the India of our dreams. It is true that sometimes even chaos has given birth to a dancing star, but its usual progeny are suffering and degradation and internecine conflict and reaction."10 He was talking as if his continuous hobnobbing with the paid agents of a foreign power was unknown to his colleagues and regarded by them as a perfect path towards order and peace.
But the Bose episode next year helped him to get sobered considerably in relation to Mahatma Gandhi of whom he had been becoming increasingly critical because he had come to believe that the Mahatma stood solidly in the way of the communists capturing complete power inside the Congress. Now he knew that but for the Mahatma's "magnetic personality" the Congress had almost been captured by a "band of fascists". So, sometime in the month of March 1939, he confessed: "In trying to analyse the various elements in the Congress, the dominating position of Gandhiji must always be remembered. He dominates to some extent the Congress, but far more so he dominates the masses. He does not easily fall in any group and is much bigger than the so-called Gandhian group. That is one of the basic factors of the situation. The conscious and thinking Leftists in the country recognise it and, whatever their ideological or temperamental differences with him, have tried to avoid anything approaching a split. Their attempt bas been to leave the Congress under its present leadership, which means under Gandhiji's guidance, and at the same time to push it as far as they could more to the left to radicalise it, and to spread own ideology."11
The shelter that he thus took under the Mahatma's mantle lasted till the Mahatma was murdered in 1948. There was during this period no major crisis inside the Congress organisation which was all along keyed up towards developments in the international situation. The brief isolation which he suffered in 1942 was ended by the turn-out of the Second World War. He, of course, did not relish the expulsion of the Communist Party of India from the national organisation in 1945 for its traitorous role during 1942-45. But he was helpless because on this question even his followers in the Congress Socialist Party were united with Sardar Patel's "rightist faction". Nor did he relish, as we have already pointed out, Sardar Patel's suppression of the communist insurrection during 1948-50. This time he almost jeopardised his own position as leader of the Congress Party and the Prime Minister of India. The situation was saved for him only by Sardar Patel's death.
Now he had an unbridled opportunity to patronise the Communist Party of India. We need not go into the details of his policies and pronouncements between 1951 and 1961. The statistics of Communist Party membership speak for themselves. The Party had only 9,000 members when it was legalised for the first time in 1942. The membership had risen to about 89,000 when the Party tried to create a "proletarian revolution" in 1948-50. But as a result of Sardar Patel's statesmanship the Party strength was reduced to 20,000 by the beginning of 1951. Since then the Party membership has been registering a rapid progress, rising to 75,000 in 1954, 125,000 in 1956, and 250,000 in 1958 when the Party decided to become a mass party. Today, the Party membership should be more than 300,000 in spite of the shock of destalinisation, Hungary, Tibet and Red China's encroachments in India, which episodes should have sharply reduced the strength of the Party had India been inspired by a healthy sense of human values and nurtured the natural vigour of home-grown nationalism. The Party which does not believe in parliamentary democracy and which is pledged to destroy democratic institutions as and when it has the power to do, has been permitted to wield governmental power in Kerala. The precedent has encouraged Ajoy Ghose to declare that the Party looked forward to a coalition at the Centre after winning power in a few more States.
Pandit Nehru's patronage has led the Communist Party of India to plead for a "National Democratic Front for National Democratic Tasks" in its recent Party Congress at Vijaywada. The Party now advocates "that in order to defend India's foreign policy, the public sector and the parliamentary system, in order to wage an effective battle against communalism, it is necessary that we forge links with Congressmen". The Political Resolution of the Party says: "Such a policy can alter the correlation of forces in our country in favour of democratic forces and lead to a situation when it will become a practical policy to raise the slogan of a Government of the National Democratic Front... Conditions for such an advance are more favourable today than ever before."12 Some Congressmen of long standing like B. Shiva Rao have already warned the country that after the Third General Elections we may have a Government which shall be Congress in name but Communist in content.
Soviet Russia is, in fact, urging upon Pandit Nehru to set up a. real "anti-imperialist Government" in India if he wants a settlement with Red China which will vacate the territories she has occupied as soon as she is assured that India is no more in danger of becoming "a base of American imperialism". He cannot stand this pressure which is coupled with a threat to unleash a civil war in India with the help of the CPI whom the Soviet Slave Empire can now directly aid and arm across our northern borders that have been ripped open. Had Pandit Nehru been a patriot and a man of courage, he would have taken the country into confidence and tried to wipe out the Communist Party of India in a bid to meet the Chinese threat militarily. But being a communist and a coward, he will readily succumb to Sino-Soviet machinations and hand over his country to Soviet imperialism, as his prototype and predecessor, Benes of Czechoslovakia, did in February 1948.
In the next and the last article of this series, we shall discuss why this country and the Western world at large continue to believe that Pandit Nehru is an anti-communist in whose hands India's independence and democracy are safe. It is as big and dangerous a delusion as the one about Mao Tse-tung who was publicised and patronised by the Americans as an "agrarian reformer" till he kicked them in the pants, and took his country on the road to cannibalism.
The Communist Party of India (CPI) passed a resolution in June 1947, asking all "progressive" Congressmen to rally round Pandit Nehru. On June 21, 1947, Pandit Nehru wrote to P. Subbarayan, Premier of Madras, asking the latter to "consider if you cannot tone down your policy in regard to keeping a considerable number of communists under detention". He thought that "the Communist Party is trying to change its policy towards the Congress and the Congress Governments", and that "a gesture on your part might be a good policy".13 He did not care that the CPI was carrying on, at that very time, a virulent campaign against the "reactionary" Congressmen led by Sardar Patel, a stalwart of the Congress Party and Home Minister in the Government headed by him. All that he cared was that the CPI had become soft towards "progressives" like him. Significantly, he did not write similar letters to Home Ministers in the rest of the Provinces ruled by the Congress Party at that time. The reason was simple. These other Congress Governments were dominated by what the CPI regarded as "reactionary" Congressmen. P. Subbarayan, it seems, was the only "progressive" Premier. He was the father of Mohan Kumaramangalam and Parvati Krishnan, the famous communist leaders from the South, and apparently in sympathy with them.
Pandit Nehru was, however, disillusioned very soon. The CPI changed its line in the next few months. P.C. Joshi, the General Secretary of the CPI, was replaced by B.T. Ranadive who placed the Congress Government led by Pandit Nehru squarely in the camp of "Anglo-American imperialists and warmongers" in January 1948. He now shared his woes with his sister, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, who was India's Ambassador in Moscow at that time. He wrote to her in a letter dated January 23, 1948 that "the Communist Party of India has recently changed its policy again and is now against the Government which is dubbed as just a camp-follower of Anglo-Americans". And he believed that "many people in Russia may form their opinions from reports of the Communist Party of India".14 He was, however, to admit the truth a few months later, namely that it was not the CPI which was misleading Moscow, but Moscow which was directing the CPI to become hostile to the Congress Party and India's new government.
All the same, he was dead against any action being taken against the CPI, which several Provincial Governments were forced to do in view of increasing communist violence. In a Circular Letter dated March 17, 1948, he wrote to the Premiers of all Provinces regretting that "the West Bengal Government had banned the Communist Party" without reference to Government of India, and informing them that Government of India had "no intention of banning the Communist Party or indeed of large-scale arrests".15 He forgot that law and order was a Provincial subject, and Provincial Governments were the best judges of how to meet situations created by criminals. At the same time, he tried to see that there was no "misunderstanding in Moscow". He cabled to Mrs. Pandit on March 31, 1948, conveying that the Government of West Bengal had acted without consulting the Government of India, and that "it is not our intention to ban Communist Party in other parts of India".16
The Government of East Punjab had been forced to arrest large number a communists in order to forestall violence by them. Pandit Nehru felt annoyed. In a letter dated May 3, 1948, he asked Dr. Gopichand Bhargava, the Premier of East Punjab, why "the number of arrests in the Punjab had been by far the greatest" when "in most provinces only a few persons have been arrested". He protested that "our actions in this respect had repercussions all over the world and... our reputation has suffered". He also informed Bhargava that "our ambassadors have received deputations and I have received numerous messages from other parts of the world". On the same day he wrote a similar letter to C.M. Trivedi, Governor of East Punjab.17
Incidentally, he used these letters to the Premier and the Governor of East Punjab to chide them for allowing the RSS people to "function again in public under different disguises" and "to spread their poisonous propaganda".18 The fact that the RSS had been placed under an all-India ban for a single crime committed by an individual who was not even a member of the RSS, did not bother him. Nor did the fact that the RSS was protesting peacefully against the ban, carry any weight with him. He did not notice at all that the communists were functioning from many fronts, all of them wedded to violence. The only thing that mattered to him was that, unlike the communists, the RSS people had no paymasters abroad, and no foreigners were protesting against what was being done to them.
There had been large-scale witch-hunting against the RSS all over the country, particularly in Maharashtra where some Brahmanas had been killed, many others molested, and their houses and establishments burnt down. Pandit Nehru did not even notice the persecution, not to speak of protesting against it. But he at once imagined a great persecution when communist violence was denounced in some places. In a letter dated May 29, 1948 to Govind Ballabh Pant, the Premier of UP, he saw "all manner of reactionary elements taking refuge in the cry of 'down with communism'..."19 That leaves little doubt that, for him, the people who committed violence against innocent Brahmanas in Maharashtra were "progressive elements".
One of the leading communists arrested in Bihar was Habib Mahmud, son of Pandit Nehru's close friend, Syed Mahmud. In fact, most of his close friends in the Congress and elsewhere had sons or daughters or other relatives who were members of the CPI or its fronts. He was flooded with protests from these friends or their families. Habib Mahmud had another plus point in his favour. Besides being a communist, he was a Muslim as well. He wrote a letter to Pandit Nehru who forwarded it to Sri Krishna Sinha, the Premier of Bihar, with a covering note dated June 8, 1948 stating that he was "surprised at the kind of charges that are being brought in justification of this internment". He, thought that the "charges are entirely vague" and protested that "we have been very much criticized in foreign countries on this subject".20
By now he was finding it impossible to ignore the truth about CPI's source of inspiration. In a letter dated June 26, 1948, he complained to Krishna Menon, Moscow's man stationed as India's High Commissioner in London at that time, that (i) "The Russian attitude to India has become one of condemnation and running down the Government of India", (ii) "Articles in some Russian periodicals contain bitter criticism and we are continually referred to as some kind of stooges of the Anglo-American bloc", and (iii) "the Communist Party of India, which presumably will never go against the main trend of Russian foreign policy, has been adopting not only a hostile attitude but a rebellious attitude".21 He was hoping that Krishna Menon might be able to soften Moscow. So he took no one else in confidence, nor stated the truth about the CPI publicly at that time or ever. The people of India did not deserve his confidence, nor did they need the correct information. And he continued to be grieved over the steps which Sardar Patel and the Provincial Governments had taken in order to counter communist violence and subversion.
In September 1948, he had gone to London in order to attend a Commonwealth Conference. On his return, he wrote a letter dated October 10, 1948 to Sardar Patel, stating that "we are criticized considerably for our detention without trial and other repressive activities of the state, in so far as trade unions and labour people and the like are concerned", that "even Lady Mountbatten told me that she was worried about it", and that "Members of Parliament also spoke about it".22 Not many people in India knew at that time, or know even now, that Edwina Mountbatten was a whore who had slept with every communist intellectual within her reach, including Pandit Nehru. Nor did Pandit Nehru name the Members of Parliament who had protested to him. They were only a few and famous fellow-travellers. And he presented the communist criminals as trade unionists and labour leaders. He was setting the precedent which latter-day champions of human rights would follow in the face of terrorism in the Punjab and Kashmir. For the likes of Pandit Nehru, victims of violence have no rights.
Incidentally again, in the same letter he conveyed to Sardar Patel that "Regarding RSS, there is a widespread impression in England that they are Fascist, communal-minded people", and that "If at this juncture we remove the ban on the RSS... this will be widely interpreted -as encouraging certain Fascist elements in India".23 Poor RSS being a patriotic organization had no patrons abroad, and opinion within the country or even inside the Congress Party had no meaning for Pandit Nehru.
Edwina Mountbatten had also spoken to him, while he was in London, "about a proposal to hold a Conference in Calcutta under the auspices of the Women's International Democratic Federation".24 He referred the matter to the Home Ministry which sent to him a detailed note prepared by H.V.R. Iengar, Secretary of the Ministry, about the character of this Federation and the consequence bound to follow from its conference in Calcutta. Pandit Nehru felt helpless, and forwarded the Home Ministry's note with a long letter he wrote to the "Lady" on November 11, 1948. He reminded her of his past services to the cause of Communism and apologised for his failure in the present instance. He said:
"In this note a reference is made to the South East Asia Students' Conference that was held in Calcutta early this year... I remember that the Conference was objected, at the time, but I was against prohibiting it... It was largely due to me that the Conference was held and any delegates coming to it from abroad were supplied with visas... It is now a recognized fact by all well-informed persons that this Conference immediately led to what happened soon after in Burma, Malaya, India and to some extent in Siam.25
"A delegation from the Women's International Democratic Federation visited India sometime back... The delegation produced subsequently a report which was a very bad one from our point of view... I might mention that that delegation also came here because I interested myself in having visas issued to them.26
"You know that I have had strong leanings towards Communism and have many friends among Communists."27
In December 1948, the Home Ministry had deputed one of its intelligence officers, Sanjeevi, to visit Britain and some other countries in Europe in order to survey the state of India's intelligence organisation abroad, and suggest steps for its improvement. His visit had been cleared by Pandit Nehru to whom the matter had been referred by the Home Ministry. But Krishna Menon reacted violently to Sanjeevi's visit to London and said that the officer had been sent by Sardar Patel to spy on him. In his talks to Sanjeevi, he "condemned the policy of the Government of India, and particularly of the Home Ministry regarding the Communists in India which he termed as 'barbarous and inhuman'..., refused to believe that the Communists of India were resorting to violence, and justified the criticism in the British Press of the Government of India's action against the Communists".28
The incident created a furore in the Home Ministry when, on his return to India, Sanjeevi reported verbally to Sardar Patel the substance of what Krishna Menon had said. The Sardar advised him to talk to Pandit Nehru who suggested to him to submit a written report. At the same time, Pandit Nehru wrote a letter dated January 5, 1949 to Krishna Menon, warning him that Sardar Patel was upset, and asking him to tell "what exactly happened". A written report dated January 6, 1949 was submitted by Sanjeevi to the Home Ministry. On the same day, Sardar Patel forwarded the report to Pandit Nehru stating that he was "very distressed about it and deeply pained to rind Krishna Menon adopting the attitude and views which he expressed in his interview with Sanjeevi".29
Pandit Nehru wrote back to Sardar Patel expressing amazement "how and why Krishna Menon should have talked in this way". He offered a defence of his minion. "I can only explain," he said, "and excuse it to some extent by imagining that he was under some deep mental strain and consequently completely upset. He is often rather ill and sometimes his nerves give way when he is unwell."30
By all normal rules of policy and administration, Krishna Menon should have been sacked immediately. He was not only hostile to the Government of India which he was supposed to represent, but also a sick man, physically as well as mentally. But the problem was that Pandit Nehru was extremely fond of his spokesman in London, and shared the views the latter had expressed. In fact, he needed Krishna Menon for planting in the British press stories which could be relayed back to India.
C. Rajagopalachari who was in New Delhi during those days, waiting for a ministerial job, had also been taken into confidence by Sardar Patel. He wrote to Pandit Nehru on January 11, 1949, advising the latter that Krishna Menon should "write a letter acknowledging his error and expressing regret for his remarks about Vallabhbhai Patel to Sanjeevi".31 Pandit replied to him on the same day stating that Krishna Menon "is an extraordinary nervous individual, and sometimes gets completely upset by rather trivial happenings." At the same time, he proclaimed that Krishna Menon's "work at the India has been first-rate", and that he "is greatly popular and his staff works harder under him than it had previously done".32
But Pandit Nehru was really perturbed. He wrote to Krishna Menon on January 11, 1949, doubting whether Sanjeevi's report "is strictly accurate or not", showing understanding for Krishna Menon's "feelings about certain matters in India", and admonishing him that he should have expressed to a mere officer his opinion about policies which had been laid down by the Home Ministry."33 Krishna Menon replied on January 16, 1948, and "accused Sanjeevi of reporting a conversation which Menon had assumed to be unofficial, charged him with 'drawing him out' under false pretences, and of being an 'agent provocateur'."34 He did not deny that he said all that he was reported to have said to Sanjeevi. But in a subsequent letter dated January 20, 1949, he authorised Pandit Nehru "to deal with this matter and its implications in anyway you wish".35
Pandit Nehru was busy at that lime with the Conference on Indonesia as he informed Krishna Menon by a letter dated January 24, 1949.36 But he found time on January 26, 1949 to write a long letter to Krishna Menon after consultations with Rajagopalachari. He explained to Krishna Menon at length why Sanjeevi had been sent out, assured him that Sardar Patel appreciated his work, and enclosed the draft of a letter to be sent by him to Sardar Patel.37 The draft shows the level to which Pandit Nehru could sink for protecting his protege. He advised Krishna Menon to say that i) "I have not seen the report and I have no notes of the conversation"; ii) "I do not think I said anything of this kind"; iii) "what I told him was about reactions in England about Indian affairs"; iv) "It is possible that Mr. Sanjeevi did not quite follow what I was talking about"; and v) "I should like to express my deep regret to you for any annoyance caused to you".38 One wonders whether Krishna Menon relished the words put into his mouth. He was a self-righteous man who seldom felt or expressed regret for his words, while he went about abusing and insulting people who could not hit back.
Pandit Nehru admitted in his Circular Letter dated April 16, 1949 addressed to the Premiers that "No one is in doubt about the highly injurious activities of the Communist Party of India". But he advised them that "the Cabinet was of the opinion that any step in the nature of banning the Communist Party of India should be avoided at present". For, "if we ban the Party the aspect of sabotage and terrorism, will rather fade out from people's mind and it will be thought that the banning was due to ideological reason".39 Whatever the facts, his conclusions were always the same. He was always out to protect the CPI.
Next day, he wrote to B.G. Kher, the Premier of Bombay: "I have received telegrams from well-known writers informing that Bombay Government has seized their passports and prevented their departure for Paris to attend some Peace Conference. I have also received protests from Professor Joliot Curie, an eminent scientist of Paris. Could you kindly look into the matter as prominent men are involved."40 He did not mention the fact that the "well-known writers" and the "eminent scientist" were famous communists and fellow-travellers.
He made his own position pretty clear in a Press Conference held in New Delhi on August 8, 1949. He was asked if he would "seek the cooperation of the RSS for fighting what is generally known as the communist menace". He said that "we frankly do not trust the RSS very much and we shall keep a very vigilant outlook in regard to it". He did not say in so many words that he regarded the RSS as fascist, but that was what he meant, as was obvious from his reply to the next question. He was asked, "You made a statement some time in 1932 or 1934 that as between fascism and Communism your heed was for the latter. What is your view now?" Pat came the reply, "Still the same."41
Around the same time Edwina Mountbatten had written to him protesting "why leaders of communal parties should be released, when others are not". She was annoyed at the release of some RSS leaders with whom the Government of India wanted to have talks. Of course, by "others" she meant the communists. He wrote back to her on September 19, 1949 that it was difficult to detain people who disavowed violence, though "their presence is certainly an incitement to trouble". That was about the RSS. Coming to the communists, he pleaded helplessness because "they go on advocating something in the nature of violent rebellion and sabotage and indulge in it, whenever opportunity offers". He admitted that communist activity was "in the nature of a war". But at the same time, he conveyed to the "Lady" that "many people take advantage of the Communist cloak to carry out acts of private vengeance", and thus attributed to common criminals rather than the communists the "large number of murders" that the latter had committed.42
Finally, in a Circular Letter dated October 2, 1949 addressed to the Premiers, he informed them that the Government of Madras had banned the Communist Party of India with the approval of the Government of India, and that the public had welcomed the step. But at the same time, he warned them that this banning "has nothing to with ideology or theory" of Communism. And he blamed the widespread communist violence in Hyderabad on "the very backward land tenure system".43
Thus it is a myth that Pandit Nehru approved of the steps which Sardar Patel and the Provincial Governments led by the latter took against the communist insurrection in 1948-49. It is quite another matter that he could not save the situation for the communists in spite of his best efforts.