Confessions of Pandit Nehru

It was the Pioneer, if we remember rightly, that created sensation by printing the first personal pronoun with the small "i" in reporting one of Lord Curzon's speeches, with the explanation that it was obliged to do so as the capital "I" in the printing room had been exhausted in the first half of His Excellency's address. The story came to mind when reading Pandit Jawaharlal's rambling statement on his position vis-a-vis of Mr. Subhashchandra Bose's re-election to preside over the Indian National Congress. After the almost cynically frank avowal by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and others of how Presidents were elected until Mr. Bose broke through the conventio, the Pandit would have lost any illusion that he might have cherished about his own re-election for a second and a third time. As Lord Melbourne remarked when he accepted the Garter, "There's no damned merit about it." The Pandit pathetically avows, "often I have felt that I was a square peg in a round hole." and that "during the year 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 responsibilities of office." Nevertheless, he stayed on because he says he was firmly convinced that "in the dynamic and critical times we live in, we must present a united front and subordinate our individual opinion where these tend to impair that front." One has heard a similar reason assigned by persons who held high office and let things be done which went against the principles professed by them. Another stock reason, which the Pandit has mercifully not advanved is that, if one resigned on the ground of principle, another who had never professed any principle would step into one's shoes. "How would that be better in the interests of the country?" Notwithstanding his feeling that he was a round man in a square hole, the Pandit stuck to his seat and he implies that he did something sacrificial in so doing. It was, to our mind, the plain duty of the Pandit to resign when he felt that he was a misfit in his office. He not only did violence to his own convictions but he let the public believe that he was pulling his weight in the movement on the lines he believed to be right. If every man who is entrusted with the responsibility of office, conceives his duty to be preserve at all costs a semblance of unity in the face of the outside world, the movement must inevitably lose its vitality. A touch of fresh air is enough to topple it. If the Pandit and other had better realised their duty to serve the movement not merely with their bodily presence but with their mind and soul, the election of a candidate to the Presidentship who was not favoured by the seniors, would not have caused all this fuss. Where there is no real agreement, it is no good to pretend that there is.