Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

The Gandhi-Bose Interaction – Personality cult,Money Power, Foreign Influence, Divisive Politics

(This article has been co-authored by Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj, Chandra Mauli Singh)

Section A: Introduction


There has been, for a while, a pervasive disillusionment in India about compromise of core values in politics in India, which has led to mass movements from time to time, the latest being in 2011 initiated by Anna Hazare. The degeneration spans: 1) unhealthy nexus between corporates and politics leading to policy choices and administrative decisions based on considerations other than national interests as also influence of money power in electioneering, 2) subversion of national interests through foreign interference, 3) subjugation of ideals and ideologies to personality cults which is manifested in and in turn fed by subversion of internal democracy in political parties, and 4) divisive politics. The severity of public disenchantment on 1) can be assessed from the fact that Arvind Kejriwal won assembly polls in Delhi within a couple of years of his formal entry inpolitics by campaigning against the same. It is susceptibility to foreign interference that is believed to have induced major political parties in India to support emergency (CPI supported Indira Gandhi's declaration of emergency allegedly at the beck and call of Soviet Russia; it is not known if and what major concessions Russia extracted from India in return) and foreign aggression (CPIM refused to condemn Chinese invasion of India in 1962). Ironically, the Left parties have been the first to contend that Indian politics is subservient to foreign imperialism and interests. Recently, a member from Mr. Kumar's own party, alleged that the former chief minister of Bihar received funds from Pakistan to oppose then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi [67]. Most of the major national and state level leaders in post independence India, spanning from Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Narendra Modi,Jayalalitha, Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banarjee, Mayavati have been products of personality cults. Centrality of personality cult in Indian political discourse has led to compromise on democratic principles and financial integrity. It is the dominance of a personality that allowed the suspension of our democracy in form of emergency in 1975. It is again the same personality cult that provided in 1984 the largest ever majority in the history of India to a prime ministerial candidate who joined politics a couple of years back; the regime perpetrated major political blunders (eg, commissioning Indian army in conflicts in which India was not aparty) and became embroiled in multiple corruption allegations. Indian politics is now largely dynastic leading to concentration of political power ina handful of political families, and dynasties have invariably been initiated through personality cults. Followers of political cults have remained oblivious to the compromise of interests of the nation by corresponding leaders (eg, disproportionate assets of Mulayam Yadav and Mayavati, facilitation of separatism in Jammu and Kashmir through political understandings between PDP and BJP led by PM Modi). Finally, no major political party in India, national or regional, adheres to internal democracy in election of its principal office bearers. Prime ministerial and chief ministerial candidates and party presidents are not decided through primaries or internal elections. Provisions for elections of party presidents exist in the two major national level political parties, Congress and BJP, but democratic contests for the same are considered divisive and strongly discouraged. Presidents and prime ministerial and chief ministerial candidates are typically decided by birth or nomination, as in Congress and regional parties,or by unstructured "internal consultations" as in BJP. Divisive politics has encouraged regionalism, casteism, discrimination based on religion and marginalization of mass leaders at state level for perpetuating the hegemony of high commands of national parties.

Tracing the genesis of this all en compassing degeneration of political ethics constitutes the key to its remedy. Through amicroscopic examination of the interactions between two polar opposite personae in the history of our freedom struggle – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose - we will establish that all the debilitating factors we have identified can be traced to pre-independence politics led by the former. We choose M. Gandhi and S. Bose because they represent opposing concepts of India's yet unresolved nationhood – one that at best advocates advances innational interests through entreaties, loyalty, compromises and deals and at worst represents abject surrender to foreign imperialism, while the other that believes freedom is not given, it is taken through unrelenting, militant and if necessary violent, struggle. An examination of this interaction will be illuminating for it will reveal that core political ethics were violated through close nexus between premier political leaders like M. Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel on one hand and multi-millionaire industrialists like Ghanashyamdas Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj on the other. The interests of leading industrialists (eg, Birla, Tata, Bajaj etc) were in partallied with Britain and they naturally served as interface between England and M. Gandhi. Yet, it will become apparent that M. Gandhi and his closest disciples (eg, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajagopalchari, Rajendra Prasad etc) sought to perpetuate their hegemonyon Indian National Congress through money power (provided by big Corporates)and divisive politics (appealing to regionalism). They also allowed the industrialists to influence key political decisions ignoring obvious conflicts of interest. The same icons of India's independence struggle (Gandhi, Patel, Nehru) routinely exchanged intelligence and political information with Britain, the colonial master they appeared to fight, and its close ally USA. This information was used by the entities in question to crush internal challenge tothe leadership of Gandhi arising from within Congress and nip in the budpolitical and military movements that would poseserious challenge to colonial interests. Specifically, definitive evidence has recently emerged that S. Bose's family members were snooped on by intelligence agencies of independent India, likely with the connivance of her first prime minister J. Nehru, and even worse such information has been shared with British intelligence agencies [48, 49]. We will show that this murky practice has a long standing precedentin Indian polity - M. Gandhi was for example privy to intelligence information gathered on then Congress president S. Bose by British agencies(who shared the same with M. Gandhi) . It is also pertinent to note that priorto independence the leftist blocs decided their courses of action not innational interests but in accordance with instructions from English and Russian communist parties. India's freedom movement was therefore, not only subverted, but also controlled by multiple foreign powers. We will show how the personality cult surrounding Gandhi was used to subvert the internal democracyin Congress, and more importantly the freedom struggle at crucial junctures ofIndian history. We would perhaps be able to conclude that the current maladiesafflicting Indian politics represent a continuity of history which could not be contained as India never enacted a clean break from her colonial past and chose as her icons the very same individuals who practised the identified degenerations.

Since this article will be critical of major icons of India's independence struggle, we would rely on facts that have been reported similarly, in essence, by those at the opposing ends of then political spectrum spanning S. Bose (a key protagonist himself) on one hand and J. Kripalani (a committed Gandhian and a "permanent" member of Congress working committee during Gandhi regime), R. Gandhi (M K Gandhi's grandson) and M. Azad (another "permanent" member of Congress working committee during Gandhi regime as also a former Congress president - he was also close to J. Nehru). We will corroborate the facts they report quoting writings of G. D. Birla, a big industrialist who would be shown to have a close nexus with M. Gandhi and his coterie, and the accounts of G.D. Birla's biographer, M. Kudiaisya, who was provided access to his private papers by his family. We will establish our contentions on the left parties through information acquired by left ideologues like Suniti Ghosh and eminent historians like Leonard Gordon (author of Brothers against the Raj). We have used quotes that Suniti Ghosh used in his books after checking most of the primary sources he has cited; we have cited his primary sources as well. We will also cite information provided by generally well regarded secondary sources of history such as R. C. Majumdar.

Section B: Background – The Personality cult M K Gandhi – its genesis and impact


Section B.1: The Extent of the Personality Cult of Gandhi - J. Nehru: "Congress, at the time, meant Gandhiji"


During 1928-1939, M. Gandhi had established complete control on the then predominant party, Indian National Congress, which would become evident by examining his impact on the composition of its principal decision making body, the working committee, and its President. First, J. B. Kripalani wrote, "all important decisions were taken by the working committee as a body."p. 177, [53]. The Nagpur constitution and the Bombay Congress amendments of 1934 concentrated all powers in the hands of the Congress working committee. It had the authority to dissolve an elected Provincial committee or a lower committee. J. Nehru wrote that "That [Congress Working] Committee was practically his [Gandhi's] creation: he had nominated it, in consultation with a few colleagues, and the election itself was a formal matter. The backbone of the Committee consisted of members who had served on it for many years and had come to be considered as permanent members" p.287, [51]. Commenting on the period up to the end of the year 1938, J. B. Kripalani wrote that "Since the time Gandhiji assumed leadership of the freedom fight, the Congress President had been unanimously elected with his goodwill." pp. 177-178, [53]. J. Nehru wrote that Gandhi " has been the president-maker" and "wanted to be Mussolini all the time while others were made by him temporary kings and figure heads"– also that "I [Nehru] became President of the Congress entirely because of him [Gandhi]" pp. 286-287, [51]. It would be useful to reproduce the relevant parts from J. Nehru in its entirety: "There is a curious assumption that Vallabhbhai Patel got the Congress Presidentship in 1931 in rivalry with Mr. Gandhi. As a matter of fact, Mr. Gandhi has been bigger person in the Congress (and of course, in the country) than any Congress President could possibly be. He has been the president-maker, and invariably, his suggestions have been followed. Regularly, he refused to preside, and preferred that some of his colleagues and lieutenants should do so. I became president of the Congress entirely because of him. He had actually been elected, but he withdrew and forced my election. Mr. Vallabhbhai Patel's election was not normal. We had just come out of prison and the Congress Committees were still illegal bodies and could not function in the ordinary way. The Working Committee, therefore, took it upon itself to elect the President of the Karachi Congress. The whole committee, including Mr. Vallabhbhai Patel, begged Mr. Gandhi to accept the presidentship and thus become the titular head, as he was the real head, of the Congress during the coming critical year. He would not agree and insisted upon Mr. Vallabhbhai Patel accepting it. I remember that it was pointed out to him at the time that he wanted to be Mussolini all the time, while others were made by him, temporary kings and figureheads." pp. 286-287 [51]. (The Congressmen who begged Sonia Gandhi to assume the office of the prime minister of India instead of the titular head that Dr. Manmohan Singh was, were therefore following in the foot-steps of the Working Committee of 1931 which included both J. Nehru and V. Patel). The author of the official history of the Congress, Pattabhi Sitaramayya said that Gandhi was "the power behind the throne." p. 72, [52] (also quoted in p. 562, [2]). The validity of the assessments of Nehru, Kripalani and Sitaramayya is borne by the fact that the first two belonged to the backbone of the Committee Nehru spoke of, that is, they served on it for many years and had come to be considered as permanent members, while the last had complete confidence of Gandhi to the extent that Gandhi nominated Sitaramayya to contest Bose for Congress presidency and would consider his defeat as his own p. 567,[1]. Thus, none of them was a disgruntled member embittered by severance of his privileges so to speak. S. Bose, who was ideologically opposed to M.Gandhi, concurred: "The Congress working committee today is undoubtedly composed of some of the finest men of India – men who have character and courage, patriotism and sacrifice. But most of them have been chosen primarily because of their blind loyalty to the Mahatma – and there are few among them who have the capacity to think for themselves or the desire to speak out against the Mahatma when he is likely to take a wrong step. In the circumstances the Congress cabinet of today is a one-man show." p. 67, [4]. Examining the interactions between M K Gandhi and S C Bose we would show that Gandhi dropped members from working committee whenever they showed substantive disagreements on core policies; also the former in fact installed presidents by violating established democratic norms and constitutional procedures (J. Nehru indicates the same in the last quote of him that we have reproduced). The working committee would invariably support M. Gandhi's Presidential nominees (as also his policy choices which would subvert the freedom struggle), as every member owed to him his appointment and continuation to Gandhi. J. Nehru summed it up well: "Gandhiji was the permanent super-president of the Congress" and "Congress, at the time, meant Gandhiji" p. 78, [52] (also quoted in p. 562, [2]). Finally, in M Gandhi's own words (a few weeks before his death):"But, today I have become a sort of burden. There was a time when my word was law. But it is no longer so." pp. 394, [88], p. 124, [55]. In other words, for a long time, M. Gandhi's words were laws in Congress.

It is remarkable that M K Gandhi retired from Congress in 1934 and ceased to be a primary member of the Congress party eversince. But, he continued to attend the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and All India Congress Committee (AICC) meetings and no vital decision was made without his consent. S Bose analyzed this curious phenomenon as follows: "The question here arises: has the Mahatma retired. If so, why? He has retired in the sense that his name does not appear in the list of members of the Supreme Executive of the Congress. But the executive – the Working Committee – has been backed by his blind supporters. The present working committee is more submissive to the Mahatma than even the Working committee of last year, of which the Mahatma was himself a member. Among the personnel of the present Working Commiteee, the Swarajists or Parliamentarians are conspicuous by their absence. Even Mr. M S Aney who dared to differ from the Mahatma on the question of Communal Award, is not there, despite his loyalty and submissiveness in the past. And poor Mr. Nariman who ventured to think independently has been virtually kicked out of the committee. In 1924, the Mahatma had really retired from Congress politics together with his party, as the Congress machinery has been seized by his opponents, the Swarajists. Today, the person of the Mahatma may not even be in the committee - but his party is there, stronger than ever. Moreover, he has direct control over the most important department of future Congress activity – the village industries association. The so called retirement of the Mahatma will not, accordingly, diminish his hold over the Congress machinery in any way - but will enable him to disown all responsibility for the failures of the official Congress Party for the next few years. His retirement therefore, is only one of his strategic retreats to which he is in the habit of resorting whenever there is a political slump in the country." pp.342-343 [4]. The discerning readers will note another continuity of history here, that of, power without accountability, enacted by another Congress president, more than 50 years later, in Sonia Gandhi's nomination of an MP, who never won any direct franchise, Manmohan Singh, as PM.

Section B.2: The Genesis of the Personality Cult of Gandhi


How M K Gandhiacquired this over-arching control over Congress constitutes an elaborate study in itself which is beyond the scope of this article. We mention the points that would be pertinent to this article.

Section B.2.1 Mass support due to attribution of religiosity to a political leader


First, M Gandhi was undoubtedly popular among the masses in at least North and West of India. He came across more as a religious leader, the Mahatma, to them, as opposed to a political leader. His popularity relied on a combination of religiosity, irrationality and susceptibility to personas who come across as Avatars promising to attain mission impossible. S. Bose analyzes the phenomenon well: "Though Hindu society has never had an established church like Europe, the mass of the people have been profoundly susceptible to the influence of Avatars, priests, and gurus. The spiritual man has wielded the largest influence in India, and he is called a Saint, or Mahatma, or Sadhu. For various reasons, Gandhiji came to be looked upon the masses as a Mahatma before he became the undisputed political leader of India. At the Nagpur Congress in December 1920, Mr. M. A. Jinnah, who was till then a nationalist leader,addressed him as Mr. Gandhi, and he was shouted down by thousands of people who insisted that he should address him as Mahatma Gandhi. The asceticism of Gandhiji, his simple life, his vegetarian diet, his adherence to truth and his consequent fearlessness – all combined to give him a halo of saintliness. His loin cloth was reminiscent of Christ, while his sitting posture at the time was reminiscent of Buddha. Now, all this was a tremendous asset to the Mahatma incompelling the attention and obedience of his countrymen. As we have already seen,a large and influential section of the intelligentsia was against him, but this opposition was gradually worn down through the enthusiastic support given by the masses. Consciously or unconsciously, the Mahatma fully exploited the mass psychology of the people, just as Lenin did the same thing in Russia, Mussoliniin Italy and Hitler in Germany... In 1920, when the Congress began to preach the political doctrine of non-co-operation, a large number of Congressmen who had accepted the Mahatma as not merely a political leader but also as a religious preceptor – began to preach the cult of the new Messiah. As a consequence, many people gave up eating fish and meat, took the same dress as the Mahatma, adopted his daily habits like morning and evening prayer, and began to tal kmore of political freedom than of political Swaraj. In many parts of the country, the Mahatma began to be worshipped as an Avatar. Such was the madness that seized the country that in April 1923, in a politically minded province like Bengal, a resolution moved at the Jessore political conference to the effect that the goal of the Congress was not spiritual Swaraj but political Swaraj was defeated at the end of a heated debate. In 1922, when the writer was in prison, the Indian warders in the service of the prisons department would refuse to believe that the Mahatma had been cast in prison by the British Government. They would say in all seriousness that if Gandhiji wasa Mahatma, he could assume the shape of a bird and escape from prison anymoment he liked. To make matters worse, political issues would no longer be considered in the cold light of reason, but would be unnecessarily mixed up with ethical issues. The Mahatma and his followers, would not for example countenance the boycott of British goods [during 1920-1922], because that would engender hatred towards the British. Even so intellectual a personality as the celebrated poetess, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, in her speech at the Gaya Congress inDecember 1922, condemned the Swarajist policies on the ground that councils were places of Maya, where Congressmen would be tempted by bureaucratic overtures. And worst of all was the tendency on the part of the orthodox followers of the Mahatma to regard everything that he said as the Gospel truth without reasoning or arguing and to accept his paper Young India as their bible " pp.126-127, [4]. Wherever M Gandhi went, he held prayer meetings, which were extensively attended. Bose observed about the Congress session at Karachi in March, 1931: "During the Congress session, the Mahatma used to hold a public prayer in the morning, and unprecedented crowds attended it. No propaganda could bemore effective in drawing public support." p. 230 [4]. M. Azad had observed: "I may here confess that many people thoughts that Gandhiji would bring freedom for India, by some magic or super human effort, and did not therefore think it necessary to make any special personal effort. p. 83, [45]. Pertinent to note that attribution of spiritual or messianic halo to political leaders has perpetuated in India eversince – Indira Gandhi came across as a Goddessto the under-privileged section of India, temples have been built with Sonia Gandhi and Narendra Modi as presiding Gods and Godesses, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal are both considered as messiahs as good governance and clean politics by their respective followers.

M. Gandhi was certainly aware of the benefits of the attribution of spiritual halo. In a prayer meeting in 1947, he stated "in our country, a Mahatma enjoys the right to do anything. He may commit murder, indulge in acts of debauchery or what everelse he chooses; he is always pardoned. Who is there to question him?" pp.162, [90], pp. 124-125, [55]. He also knew how to come across as a Mahatma, as he said: "If one makes a fuss of eating and drinking and wears a langoti, one can easily acquire the title of Mahatma in this country." pp. 189, [89], p. 124, [55]. He started wearing his famous loin cloth only after he returned to India from South Africa and he did sport Western attire during his political agitation in the latter. Truth be told, he did not utilize his title to directly perpetrate any of the atrocities he enumerates, but remained content with subverting the freedom struggle to India's detriment. We will let also the reader make up his own mind about how much truth and ahimsa Gandhi adhered to, by quoting his own speeches and writings. For example, he called for boycott of all foreign cloths in 1930, which can surely be explained as a change in tactics, but not from the perspective from which he opposed the same during 1920-22 (referring to S.Bose's quote above)– that it engendered hatred for the nations whose merchandise would be boycotted.

Section B.2.2 Divisive politics of M. Gandhi based centre-state conflict and regionalism


M. Gandhi did not however gain his absolutecontrol on Congress machinery by virtue of his mass appeal alone. S. Bose himself had extensive mass support in large parts of India but could never have acquired the Gandhian ownership even in Bengal Congress. M. Gandhi acquired and maintained his hold on Congress through his real politic facilitated by generous financial support of leading industrialists like G D Birla, Tata and Jamanlal Bajaj. We first describe his real politic. M. Gandhi installed factions that supported him at the helm of the provincial Congress committees, wherever he could, and encouraged factions that opposed his ideological adversaries wherever they were dominant. He had his staunch disciples Vallabhbhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad in charge of Gujarat and Bihar Congress. He first removed a popular leader, Srinivas Iyengar, of Madras from Congress Working Committee (we will give more details on him later), and subsequently installed C. Rajagopalchari as the Premier of the Madras Presidency when Congress assumed office in 1937.

We will study M. Gandhi's modus operandi ingreater detail where his faction was never dominant despite his best efforts – Bengal. During his regime, that is from 1920 onwards, Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) was dominated by C R Das first and S. Bose later – both were ideological adversaries of M. Gandhi. M. Gandhi ensured that a Gandhian faction existed in Bengal Congress nonetheless. Bose's biographer Leonard Gordon writes: "some Bengal politicians who found it worth while, for a combination of political and personal motives, to align themselves with the national Gandhian network. J M Sengupta was the most important of these men in the period from 1925 to his death in 1933. Dr. B C Roy and Nalini Sarkar, an important spokesman for Indian big business in Calcutta, both moved closer to Gandhi" p.162, [54]. How M. Gandhi cultivated the loyalty of the Gandhian faction of BPCC is revealing in itself. On 10th December, 1921, C R Das and his disciples (eg, S. Bose, Birendra Sasmal) were arrested. The Gandhians of Bengal wired to him asking if they should fill up the vacancies in BPCC. Gandhi wired back his consent. He had held that all vacancies caused due to imprisonment of leaders every where should be filled up. The policy turned out to be convenient as Gandhians were not imprisoned that time pp. 282, [91],p. 193, [55]. We would see that relatively less incarceration of Gandhians by the British would stand in good stead for Gandhi throughout. Right after C R Das' death in June, 1925, M. Gandhi installed J M Sengupta as his successor in Bengal right. On 8th September, 1925, M. R Jayakar, then a Maharashtrian Swarajist leader, wrote to Lajpat Rai: "I hear from friends in Bengal that Gandhi's injudicious interference in favour of Sengupta as successor to Das has caused a reaction, which will breakup the Swaraj party, and wipe out the good work which Das has done." p. 198, [55], p. 631, [56]. Sarat Bose (Subhas Bose's brother) had written to Subhas Bose, who was then incarcerated at Mandalay jail in Burma, "There has been great excitement lately over filling up the positions held by Deshbandhu. It has been eventually decided (on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi) that J. M. Sengupta is to occupy all the three positions. Personally, I think it is a great mistake to put any other man into all the places filled by Deshbandhu. But, the Mahatma's decision was accepted." p. 137, [54]. J M Sengupta remained loyal to M.Gandhi until his death in 1933 (except one instance in July 1929 when healong with S. Bose opposed M. Gandhi's demand to boycott legislature – he switched over to support M. Gandhi by December 1929 and retained his seat in the working committee while S. Bose was dropped). S. Bose would later observe that not only did J M Sengupta support Gandhi in Calcutta Congress (December 1929), he had wanted S. Bose to do so as well p. 191, [4]. S. Bose continued: "Since then (Calcutta Congress) a separate party (faction) had grown up in Bengal under the leadership of the late Mr. Sengupta which stood for unquestioning obedience to the Mahatma and his policy. The majority party (BPCC faction led by Bose) did not bind itself to the Mahatma in that way and in its outlook and programme it was allied with the left wing opposition to the Mahatma in the Congress." p.191, [4].

Incidentally, post Sengupta's death in 1933, M Gandhi would ensure that his widow Mrs. Nellie Sengupta became the Congress president in 1934. Mrs. Sengupta's standing in state and national level politics was hardly commensurate with the august office of INC President – she did not hold any elected office prior to this appointment. This, as also J MSengupta's appointment in the working committee, was an effort by Gandhi to promote the Gandhian faction in Bengal. Asan aside, M. Gandhi opposed the induction of Mrs. Vasanti Devi, the widow of CR Das, in any organization. In a letter to Dr. B. C. Roy on 7 December, 1932, he wrote: "Syt. Khaitan gave me your message about Vasanti Devi, I told him that I wanted her to make her own choice, but wanted her to work effectively and ceaselessly in the cause of Anti-Untouchability. I am not enamored of her accepting any office in any organization. When I was there at the time of the Deshbandhu collections, both she and I came to the conclusion that her job was not to run any organisation but simply to work whenever she was free and had the mind for it." pp.142-143, [101], p. 64, [57]. This was although Mrs. Das had galvanized non-cooperation movement in Bengal by courting arrest in 1921 when women of social standing were yet to participatein mass movements pp. 71-72 [4]. It would be relevant to note that Vasanti Devi's late husband, C R Das, was also the political mentor of S. Bose and she remained an adopted mother to S. Bose throughout his sojourn in India (definitely in 1932 when M. Gandhi wrote the above letter). Even more, during his lifetime C R Das had effectively opposed M. Gandhi's policies - his Swarajist party was strong enough to send M. Gandhi to voluntary retirement in which he remained from 1925 to 1929 pp.113, 125 [4].

Notwithstanding the road blocks inserted by Gandhi, the BPCC faction led by S. Bose indeed remained in majority in Bengal - yet the dissent voiced by the Gandhian faction was adequate to ensure that Bengal Congress remained under the scrutiny of the high command throughout S. Bose's sojourn in India. Nepotist disbursement of working committee membership would remain an effective tool to procure loyalty to Gandhi in future as well, and create counter weights to political leaders with mass supports in their respectivestates. High commands in both national parties have repeatedly used this technique till date (eg., Vajpayee and Rajnath Singh incited local factions against Kalyan Singh and Babulal Marandi in UP and Jharkhand respectively). And, utilizing the services of a politically naive widow, or more generally a close relative, as a proxy of a recently expired political leader continues till date (eg,the first political office that Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, and Naveen Pattnaik, the son of Biju Pattnaik occupied were that of Congress President and chief minister of Odissa respectively).

It is worthwhile to note that uncharacteristic of a Mahatma, M. Gandhi retained a distaste, bordering on ethnic hatred, for the provinces and communities that did not accept his policies as enthusiastically as others or harboured dominant factions that politically opposed him. Bengal (particularly the Hindus in Bengal) and Punjab satisfied both the above criteria. On February 25, 1919, after deciding to launch Satyagraha against the repressive Rowlatt act, he wrote to the editor of The Indian Social Reformer, K. Natarajan: "If you do not provide the rising generation an effective remedy against the excesses of authority, you will let loose the powers of vengeance and the doctrine of the Little Bengal cult of violence will spread with the rapidity which all will deplore." pp. 302, [102], p. 189, [55]. While giving evidence on the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre, he told the Disorders Inquiry Committee, known as Hunter Committee (set up by Government of India) that the proper course should have been for the Viceroy to use his powers of emergency legislation, ie, touse Ordinances "in order to stamp out anarchy" instead of the Rowlatt Act p. 189, [55]. Note that the Ordinances applied only locally, and the target area he recommended was Bengal. He argued that "anarchy proper has been confined to Bengal" but "after all Bengal is not India." He added that "he would not under rate the significance of it" and that "it was serious enough to warrant strong Government measures." He held that the "conditions in Bengal were such as made the adoption of such strong measures necessary." pp. 283-285, [103], pp. 189-190, [55]. Thus, he did not mind the repression of a province that was ideologically opposed to him, but objected to its extension to all of India – yet another example of divisive politics. Government of India did indeed honor his advice and replaced the Rowlatt act with Ordinances that Gandhi recommended with severe repercussions on the populace therein. They introduced multiple ordinances during 1931-1932 in Bengal in general and districts like Chittagong, Dacca, Midnapore in particular, that in effect placed these regions under martial laws, and empowered the executive to seize buildings, to order citizens on pain of punishment to assist them in suppression of terrorism, to impose collective fines on villagers etc. Attempt to murder, and even possession of arms, explosives, were made punishable by death in1933-1934 in Bengal pp. 261, 272, 281, [4].

By the end of 1921, Gandhi, was angry at the Bengalis as Bengal fell far short in its production of khadi, although Gandhi's fervent followers had established some Gandhian-type ashrams. The Mahatma who supposedly despised violence said "If,then, there are not enough volunteers in Bengal, I should think she should be swept into the Bay of Bengal and make room for better men and women." pp.365, [104], p. 91, [54].

Gandhi had fasted against creating electorates for scheduled castes, which resulted in the Poona pact, signed on 24 September,1932, but is not known to have objected to the Communal Award of 1932 which substantially disadvantaged non-Muslims in Bengal and Punjab. It reserved seats for Muslims to the extent that Hindus (in particular upper caste Hindus) would henceforth be substantially under-represented as compared to their population in the state legislature in Bengal and (more specifically non-Muslims in) Punjab. For example, in a house of 250 in Bengal, 119 (ie, 47.6% of total seats) seats were reserved for Muslims (then constituting 54.8% ofthe total population of Bengal) who they had separate electorates, non-Muslims(Hindus then comprised 44.8% of the total population of Bengal) were to have 80 seats (ie, 32% of the total seats), 30 of 80 were to be reserved for scheduled castes and 2 for women. p. 318, [54], p.178, [55]. Most prominent Hindu Bengalis, eg, Rabindranath Thakur, Shyamaprasad Mookerjee, Subhas Bose felt wounded and wronged, but to no avail p. 318, [54]. It was virtually guaranteed that only Muslim parties could form governments in these provinces, which in due course, blatantly discriminated against non-Muslims there, and facilitated partition. M. Gandhi's confidant G. D. Birla, who has been celebrated in the Hindu community for constructing multiple Hindu temples and rest-houses, justified this act that discriminated against Hindus of Bengal and Punjab, as "inevitable" p. 160, [57]. G. D. Birla was also extremely close to Vallabhbhai Patel who is feted as a Hindu icon and who did not protest against the Communal Award either. M. Gandhi has also never criticised the British for artificially inducing the Bengal famine of 1943 which killed approximately 3.5 million in 1943 p. 504, [54]. Post-independence, regimes at the centre continued to discriminate against the provinces where their parties were weak (Congress regime discriminated against Gujarat during 2002-2012 and PM Modi has just signed off 10K acres of land of West Bengal to Bangladesh).

Section B.2.3 Impact of money power acquired through unhealthy nexus between Gandhi, his coterie and big industrialists

M. Gandhi succeeded in his political maneuvers because he largely controlled funds to Congress courtesy generous contributions of leading industrialists. G. D. Birla regularly donated to M. Gandhi - can be seen from the correspondences he reproduced in his book pp. 7-16, 32-34, 88, 98, 101, 118, 170, 201, 226, 263 [57]). In the period between January 1930 and March 1931, G.D. Birla gave between one and five lakh rupees according to the estimate of a high British official p. 72, [68]. SK Patil, and Kasturbhai Lalbhai also donated generously to the Congress Party p. 72, [68]. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was a close associate of both M. Gandhi and G. D. Birla, wrote in the foreward to a book authored by the last: G D. Birla "always stood for us during our struggle for freedom, and helped us, whenever required, by contribution" and "Gandhiji in fact never hesitated to draw on their [Birlas] resources when it was necessary to do so, nor did they [Birlas] ever hesitate to put their resources at his disposal" [57]. M. Gandhi and his coterie regularly stayed at Birla houses in different parts of India. His correspondences were regularly directed to and from Birla houses p. 130, p.144 [66]. He was assassinated in Birla house in Delhi. His staunch follower Vallabhbhai Patel also died in Birla house p. X1X, [57]. His secretary Mahadev Desai met British representatives (Mr. Laithwaite, Viceroy's secretary) at Birla house p. 243, [55].

As early as July, 1923, M. R. Jayakar, a prominent Swarajist of Maharashtra and founder of the liberal party observed: "The internal control of politics in Gandhi's time is often exercised through the influence of wealth and patronage and a community like the Deccanis, which can boast of no commercial magnates like the Tatas, Birlas and Kasturbhais, cannot possibly control politics from the inside. The influence that such men by their patronage and capacity to finance, wield over political movements may not be obvious. It is none the less real." p. 126, [56], p.112, [55]. In some ways, regionalism is closely correlated with money power. In June 1942, Louis Fischer, the American journalist, asked Gandhi: "Very highly placed Britishers had told me that Congress was in the hands of big business and that Gandhi was supported by the Bombay mill-owners who gave him as much money as he wanted. What truth is there in these assertions." Gandhi replied: "Unfortunately, they are true." Fischer asked: "What proportion of the Congress budget is covered by rich Indians?" Gandhi replied: "Practically, all of it. In this ashram, for instance we could live much more poorly than we do and spend less money. But, we do not, and the money comes from our rich friends. '' pp.405, [92], pp. 405-406, p. 122, [55]. Industrialists also fundedmany social service organizations, which were under the sole control of Gandhi– the Gandhi Seva Sangh, All India Spinners Association, All India Village Industries Association, Go Seva Sangh, Talimi Sangh, Harijan Sevak Sangh p.123, [55]. These helped Gandhi capture the Congress machinery p. 138, [4].

M. Gandhi secured the loyalty of top industrialists by incorporating their demands in Congress policies and on key Congress office bearers (which we will show), and accommodating them in his political power structure. G D Birla servedas M. Gandhi's unofficial emissary to the British. As, Dr. Rajendra Prasad writes, "He [Birla] also proved himselfto be a trusted exponent of Gandhiji's viewpoint to many Britisher's as far asGandhi's political program was concerned. One can see from the book howhe undertook visit after visit to England on his own and utilised theopportunities for keeping those in places of authority there well informedabout the way Gandhiji's mind was working. He never claimed to act as anappointed agent on behalf of Gandhiji and yet having studied andunderstood his philosophy and his programme, he took upon himself to convey itsimplications to those that counted. And it may be said that he succeeded in nosmall measure in this self-appointed role." p. vi[57]. Jamanlal Bajaj was a permanent member of the workingcommittee during Gandhi's regime. He became thetreasurer of Congress as well p. 292, [62]. Gandhi also asked G D Birla to get the accounts of Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee audited (he asked G D Birla on 8 May 1929, and reminded him on 26 August, 1929 and 18 September, 1929 ) pp. 458, [105] , pp, 441, [106],pp.102, [107], p. 204, [55].

All the above represent substantial conflicts of interests as the industrialists thereby get to know the identities of all those who are contributing to Congress as also all the expenses of Congress. Congress was engaged in a political struggle against the British and the same industrialists had trade relations with the British. Next, industrialists here were in a position to influence the industrial and labor policies of the political parties and their participation or support of labor movement with which they have a natural conflict of interest. Examining Bose-Gandhi interactions, we will show that Congress indeed forcefully represented the interests of Indian industrialists but not those of labor (and did not effectively organize the latter against the British). For example, M. Gandhi warned that it was "dangerous to make political use of factory labourers or the peasantry.'' In India," he said, "we want no political strikes." He said that "it adds to their [laborers'] dignity when they understand that they are members an citizens of the empire." pp. 362, [108], p. 191, [55].

Next, and perhaps most important in context offreedom movement is that big business has every incentive to ally with the ruling regime (British) particularly when it was unlikely that the regime would change in near future (through elections for example). Big industrialists have always grown all over the world through cooperation of existing regimes. British India was certainly no exception. G.D. Birla started his independent business unit as a broker working closely with Englishmen p. XIV, [57]. His ancestors made their fortune through opium trade between India and China facilitated by the British pp. 62-63, [3]. Birla searned most of their money from jute for which Britain was the biggest market. A certain loyalty and goodwill for the British is therefore expected in big industrialists. G. D. Birla's sentiments are best gauged in aletter and a conversation when he was unable to influence the Congress policy to his liking. In a conversation with the British businessman, Sir Edward Benthall, he declared that 'for the last ten years of his life, he had been taking up an attitude of opposition, which was more often than not of a bitter nature, because it was the only way in which he could put pressure to bear on the subjects he had in mind, but that,hence forward he desired to work in collaboration and was willing to drop all hostility.' In the same conversation, Sir Edward Benthall reports that Birla appeared even ready to concede non-discrimination of British interests in India. [68] p.81. Further, in a letter to Hoare (Secretary of State for India), Birla informed him that 'FICCI would offer its cooperation to the government, subject to two conditions. a) A genuine desire on the part of the government to come to an agreement on the question of financial autonomy b)Formation of a committee of experts to discuss the same.' He even offered 'an agreement between the present Parliament and progressive Indian opinion not identified with the Congress'[68] p. 85.

Above and beyond all the factors stated above the predominant objective of the industrialists would be to accrue profit. Yet,prolonged and militant mass movements typically disrupt business environment and reduce profit. Thus, industrialists would have every reason to discourage the same which again presents a conflict of interest for a political party which is presumably fighting for independence. We would see that Gandhi refused to launch, or delay the launching of mass movements, and prematurely called off the ones he was forced to launch under public pressure. The stated goal of his emissary G D Birla was a rapprochement between Gandhi and British – on July 3, 1937, GD Birla wrote to C Rajagopalchari, a permanent member of the Gandhi coterie: "The more I discuss Bapu with Englishmen and vice versa, the more I believe that it is a tragedy that these two big forces in the world cannot combine. I think it would be a service to the world when they do. And this conviction cheers me up." p. 193, [57]. On 15th March, 1940, G D Birla would write to M. Gandhi's secretary Mahedev Desai "At times I feel that we are over-emphasizing the fighting part of our programme and ignoring settlement through persuasion. We have pitched our demands so high that we have made it impossible for Englishmen to come to an honourable settlement. That is where I complain. There are others even in the Working Committee who feel like myself." p. 240, [57] (the specific context which we will later provide will be even more illuminating in this regard). G D Birla would push Gandhi away from mass movements and towards the negotiation table again and again, pp. 35, 37 [57], with a great degree of success. Indian industry depended on British for machinery, technical know how and British controlled markets outside India eg, Britain, Hong Kong, China, East Africa (particularly jute industry and cotton mills which constituted an important venture of the Birlas). Many mills had substantial number of Europeans in their board of directors pp. 160-166 [55]. Complete severance from England would be to the detriment of these industrialists (we would see that GD Birla advocated Dominion status as opposed to independence, eg, pp. 42-43[57] – demand for the latter constituted one of the first disputes between Gandhi and Bose). Some of the big Indian industrialists competed with English industrialists residing in India. They hoped to stop Britain from best owing undue favors on the latter in lieu of securing political advantages for Britain. For instance, Birlas competed with Canny Scots and Dundee on jute and therefore needed British goodwill not to be ruined resulting in undue favours to Dundee. Indeed, while G D Birla praised the English at multiple instances pp.185, 193, 229-230, [57] , he described "large trading houses that had made fortunes through the colonial trade" as also "Canny Scots, who monopolised the jute trade at both ends, from Bengal fields and Hooghly mills to Dundee" as "powerful opponents" of India pp. 230-231, [57]. Thus, big industrialists would indeed be susceptible to British influence to the determent of Indian interests. Gandhi's emissary G D Birla has written: "Sensible Indian men and women realize their need of British help; they want British friendship. The question therefore is how to secure this, bearing in mind the Government's position and prestige on the one hand, and the position of the self respect of the Indian people on the other " p.164, [57]. Perhaps, owing to this need for British help and friendship, he would negotiate multiple pacts which undermined India's national interests in general and Hindu interests in particular, eg, Communal Award pp.52-55, 114-115, 160 [57], Poona pact pp. 56-58, [57] , Government of India Act pp. 119-122, [57], Congress' acceptance of office pp. 181-182, 193 [57], Federation pp. 207-209 [57]. And, M. Gandhi would happily oblige.

The industrialists supported M. Gandhi because of a diverse set of factors. Freedom movement was already in full swing by 1915, the time when he returned to India, and was fast assuming a militant character (starting from partition of Bengal in 1905). The movement that M. Gandhi espoused was much more conducive to business interests, than an extremist revolutionary one which was bound to appear should there be a vacuum. Thus, by funding M. Gandhi, Indian industrialists enhanced their political influence on him, and ensured that the dominant faction substantially relied on entreaties, negotiations, compromises and deals with the British even while conceding substantial advantages to the latter. Second, owing to cooperation over multiple generations, they knew well how they could function in tandem with the British rulers, and could ill afford a new regime that represented a complete break from the past. They would much rather prefer the continuity that M. Gandhi offered to the uncertainty of the nature of the regime resulting from a complete upheaval as the faction opposing him(Subhas Bose and therevolutionaries) strove for. They were also worried about the contemporary international developments that violently overthrew existing regimes and the merchantile community that supported them, eg, the Bolshevik revolution of Russia. They found M. Gandhi's concept of trusteeship, whereby industrialists can retain their fortune after cosmeticsocial service, as opposed to socialist redistribution of wealth, enormously reassuring p. vii [57]. In a letter to M.Gandhi's secretary, Mahadev Desai, G. D. Birla had advocated strict measures for suppressing peasant movements: "Ivery much disliked the peasants in Bihar marching to the Assembly House and occupying the assembly seats and refusing to vacate them in spite of the request of the Premier. And then the Premier addressed them, and told them all sorts of sweet things without telling them that they were wrong in occupying the assembly seats and refusing to vacate them. Bapu has rightly written against the demonstration that was made against Raghavendra Rao, but I fear that in course of time indiscipline will grow more and more unless strict measures are taken." p. 191 [57]. Worthwhile to note that the above quote shows that M. Gandhi had himself written against peasant demonstrations. G. D. Birla has written that he urged Viceroy Linlithgow to arrive at a common position with Gandhi on "terrorists" and get rid of "terrorism" altogether pp. 164, 174, [57]. He had commended the Irwin-Gandhi pact for striking "at the roots of the method of securing political advance by means of disorder," and substituting it by "the method of mutual discussion and confidence." p.161, [57]. He had defended the repressive Rowlatt Act introduced to contain the revolutionaries as "For theRowlatt Act was merely the taking of emergency reserve powers 'in case'." p.235, [57] On 30th June, 1935, he told Sir Henry Craik that if the British does not arrive at a settlement with Gandhi, "a revolution of the bloody type may become an inevitable factor. And this wouldbe the greatest calamity not only to India but to England. Tories may say this would be India's funeral. I say it would be a funeral for both." p.132, [57].