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>>

Response to statements of Pattabhi Sitaramayya and Sardar Patel

Once again I am forced into a public controversy by the statements of Dr Pattabhi and Sardar Patel. The former says that there has been a unanimous desire among the people of South India in general and Andhra in particular that the next President should be an Andhraite.

It is difficult to believe that Congressmen in any part of India think in terms of provincialism. Moreover, I have before me at the present moment telegrams from Andhradesa voluntarily assuring me of support. And so far as Tamil Nad is concerned, friends there are among those who are most insistent that I should not withdraw from the contest.

Sardar Patel's statement contains a rather damaging confession. He says that some members of the Working Committee held an important consultation among themselves and came to a certain decision. Is it not surprising that neither the President nor other members of the Working Committee knew anything of this?

It is clear that he wants a President who will be a mere figurehead and a tool in the hands of other members of the Working Committee. The above confession also confirms the general impression that the Working Committee is really controlled by a group within it and that the other members are there on sufferance.

Though the Congress resolution on Federation is one of uncompromising hostility, the fact remains that some influential Congress leaders have been advocating conditional acceptance of the Federal scheme in private and in public.

Up till now there has not been the slightest desire on the part of the Rightist leaders to condemn such activities. It is no use shutting one's eyes to the reality of the situation. Can anybody challenge the fact that the belief is widely held that during the coming year, a compromise will be effected between the British Government and the right-wing of the Congress? This impression may be entirely erroneous, but it is there all the same and nobody can deny its existence. Not only that. It is also generally believed that the prospective list of Ministers 'for the Federal Cabinet has been already drawn up'.

In the circumstances it is natural that the Left or radical bloc in the Congress should feel so strongly on the question of the Federal Scheme and should desire to have a genuine anti-federationist in the Presidential chair. The determination of the Congress High Command to have a Rightist in the chair at any cost has only served to make the radical elements feel more suspicious. The whole trouble has arisen because of the attitude of the right-wing towards the Presidential election.

Even at this late hour if they accept an anti-federationist President, they can end this controversy at once and thereby avert dissensions within the Congress. Speaking for myself I have already announced in public that the real issue is that of Federation. If a genuine anti-federationist is accepted as the President, I shall gladly retire in his favour. This offer, publicly announced, will stand till the eve of the election.