ON THE day of Jawaharlal Nehru’s death anniversary, Left intellectuals and Congress leaders remembered him as a visionary, who saved India from becoming a “mirror image”of Pakistan at a seminar organised by the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) here in the city on Saturday.
Harish Puri, an expert on the Ghadar Movement and a professor at Punjabi University, said Nehru’s handling of the post-Partition situation prevented the spread of communal sentiments among Hindu refugees from Pakistan. Puri said he had to fight not just the RSS but communal elements within the Congress as well.
“Nehru was the most determined fighter against the creation of a Hindu Rashtra,” Puri said. “In the Congress party, there were people who had a communal bent of mind but Nehru fought against such people with all the means at his command.”
He described Nehru as a man of peace, whose foreign policy also revolved around peace. Nehru’s belief in peaceful co-existence was not only at the international level but also within the country and that is why his focus remained on creating a secular and democratic India. Puri conceded that Nehru did make “some mistakes” but he understood that India was a country of diverse people and it was a must to respect the sentiments of all people. “Mahatma Gandhi picked Nehru to head the country as Prime Minister because he was the only leader who belonged to whole India whereas his other contemporaries were acceptable only in their own regions and lacked an all-India appeal,” he said.
Congress leader and former Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said no one would be able to eliminate Nehruvian thought from the country. He said the Modi government wanted to do away with Nehru’s concept of secularism.
Dr Chaman Lal, former professor at JNU, said there was a sustained effort at various levels to demolish the role played by Nehru in the freedom movement and his legacy of secularism. “All types of lies are being spread against Jawaharlal Nehru and his legacy,” said Professor Chaman Lal, adding that though there were deficiencies in the political thought of Nehru, his contribution to keep the state separate from religion was exemplary.
“Nehru never visited any religious place as Prime Minster and never allowed religious personalities to interfere in the affairs of the state,” said Dr Chaman Lal. Though Nehru laid the foundation of several big development projects, he never resorted to religious practices such as Bhoomi Pujan before laying the foundation stone.
“We should understand the contribution made by Nehru as Prime Minister to build various institutions on secular lines though communal people within his own Congress party created hurdles,” said Lal. He also recalled Nehru’s role in developing the scientific temper of the country and said it was essential to the country’s progress.