The Ministry in Bombay : B. G. Kher to Vallabhbhai Patel

The Ministry in Bombay : B. G. Kher to Vallabhbhai Patel

I have had discussion with my colleagues as to the subject which you referred into in your letters dated. 3rd April 1939.

No ultimatum was given by the Bombay Ministry to the Governor, or indication to the grave implications of the situation arising out of Mahatmaji’s fast. But it pointed out to him the state of tension in the country. I think we should have failed in our duty if we had not done so and pointed out the necessity of prompt action to save Gandhiji’s life. No communication whatsoever was sent to the Government of India.

It is not necessary for me to state what I and our Cabinet might have done if the Government of India had not interfered in the matter of Gandhiji’s fast. No doubt the situation that event would have been serious, and before resigning it might have become necessary to make a reference either to the Parliamentary Sub-Committee, or to the Working Committee or the President. I would like to tell you frankly that I do not think that I have done anything which I should not have been done. In matters relating to rural administration, we have to take prompt decisions and so long as we act in consonance with the principles of our party, neither the President nor the Working Committee nor the Parliamentary Sub-Committee should desire to interfere. I am perfectly certain that your decisions would have been the same as ours.

I wish to assure you that there was no intention either deliberately or otherwise to ignore you. No information was sent because there was nothing to send information about. I had discussed this matter with His Excellency they Governor. The press reports, as you know, very often attribute such steps to the Ministry as the press desire them to take and put on scare headlines. I think the best course is to trust the several Ministries and not the press. I am sure you will at once believe me when I say that I am incapable of indiscipline, it is ingrained in the whole of my being. I have not acted contrary to the needs either of duty or of discipline.

I think the Khare episode has no application at all to this occasion. I have given you my reaction to your letter frankly as you desired me to do so.

As regards your circular letter dated 3 April, without going into the merits of the allegations that several ministers canvassed, my colleagues and I are of the view that Congressmen, by accepting office do not cease to be Congressmen and, in the domestic affairs of the Congress, are entitled to act exactly as other members of the organisation in all matters connected with it.

We do not also subscribe to the view that the Ministers are like the members of a civil service in an administration. They are non-political agents of a policy laid down by politicians who form the Government. That view would deny to the Ministers the rights of a four anna member and would be destructive of the confidence which the Ministers enjoy by reason of their being called upon to perform the arduous and responsible duties of their office. Ref. Towards Freedom - 1939 Pg. 78