Architect of Swaraj – 5


At the Congress session Gandhi announced his decision to resign from the Congress. This decision of Gandhi came as a shock to all the Congress workers. C. Rajagopalachari, Abul Kalam Azad and others appealed to Gandhi to reconsider his decision. Surprisingly, when all were appealing to Gandhi not to leave the Congress, Patel was the only person who supported his decision. On hearing him C. Rajagopalachari remarked, "Gandhiji has many blind followers who will not see anything with their own eyes but only with his. But Sardar Patel is a class by himself as a blind follower. His eyes are clear and bright. He can see everything but he deliberately allows his eyes to be blinded and attempts to see only with Gandhiji's eyes."

Once the Congress had decided to contest the elections, a Parliamentary Sub-Committee was set up with Sardar Patel as Chairman and Rajendra Prasad and Maulana Azad as Members. Patel was entrusted with the task of selecting the right candidates for the ensuing elections. This he did without fear and favour. He disappointed many personal friends and became very unpopular. He was charged with being a Fascist, a Hitler and even a Super Hitler. Some people even asserted that Patel had called himself a Super Hitler. But Patel remained undaunted by these attacks. He simply explained that he had laid down some criteria and that they would be scrupulously adhered to.

[caption id="attachment_783" align="alignright" width="281"]Studio/28.4.50, A22d(iv) Shri C. Rajagopalachari photographed with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and others on arrival at Palam airport from madras on April 28, 1950. Shri C. Rajagopalachari photographed with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. April 28, 1950.[/caption]

Patel also organised a campaign to educate the voters in the value of the vote. The prestige of the Congress was at stake. The Government felt that Congressmen were no longer popular with the masses. Patel was confident of his State - Gujarat. So he devoted all his time and energy to other states. And the results of the 1937 elections were an eye opener. The Congress had swept the polls. In five out of eleven provinces Madras, Bihar, Central Provinces, United Provinces and Orissa - The Congress won and absolute majority. In four states, i.e., N.W.F.P., Bombay, Bengal and Assam it was the largest single party. Only in Punjab and Sind was it in a minority.

The formation of Congress Ministries led to some internal problems of discipline and it led to two episodes - Nariman episode in Bombay and Khare episode in Central Provinces. K.F. Nariman was a well known congressman of Bombay. He was also the President of Bombay Provincial Congress Committee and it was expected that he would be the elected leader of the Congress Party in the legislature. But he was passed over for leadership in favour of B. G. Kher, may be because Nariman had badly let down the Congress in the previous election. Nariman was shocked.

The episode would have ended there had not some Parsi owned newspapers of Bombay taken up the cause of Nariman. The Bombay Samachar and the Sentinel openly wrote that Nariman had been passed over because Patel "brought to bear improper pressure on Members of the Legislature to reject him."

The Press published Nariman's grievances and led a malicious campaign against Patel. Nariman wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru who was the President of the Congress for that year to intervene. Nehru replied to him that he was prepared to place his case before the Working Committee. But Nariman felt that the decisions of the Working Committee would not be impartial. To this Nehru replied rather sternly that "since the Working Committee unfortunately does not enjoy your confidence, you can go to the Privy Council or League of Nations or any other tribunal in which you have confidence." After receiving this rather stiff letter Nariman turned to Gandhi. During his time he was issuing many statements and the Press was carrying on propaganda against Patel. It was even mentioned that Nariman was dropped for he was a Parsi.

Gandhi wanted to end this controversy and wrote to Nariman that he and D. N. Bahadurji were prepared to arbitrate if the tribunal was acceptable to him. Nariman agreed to it. There were two different matters to be enquired into :

  1. Nariman's conduct and attitude in 1934 election.

  2. Election of leader to Bombay Parliamentary Party in March 1937.


The award or the tribunal was "that the charge against Mr. Nariman in respect of the election of 1934 is proved and the charge made by Mr. Nariman against Sardar Patel is not proved." When the award was shown to Nariman by Gandhi he accepted it. But a week later he rejected the award and said that he had signed it at a time of mental depression.

 

TO BE CONTINUE…..

Courtesy : ARCHITECT OF SWARAJ
Page – 86-87

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