Former prime minister and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh Saturday said nationalism and the Bharat Mata Ki Jai slogan were “being misused to construct a militant and purely emotional idea of India that excludes millions of residents and citizens.” He also said there were constant efforts to picture Jawaharlal Nehru in a “false light”, but history had the capacity to “put everything in perspective”.
Speaking at the launch of a book titled ‘Who is Bharat Mata’ which is edited by Purushottam Agrawal, Singh said, “Unfortunately, a section of people who either do not have the patience to read history or would like to be deliberately guided by their prejudices, try their best to picture Nehru in a false light. But I am sure, history has a capacity to reject fake and false insinuations and put everything in proper perspective.”
While commenting on the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Parliament last month, PM Modi had made references to Nehru’s policies on minorities in Pakistan following Partition. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, meanwhile, blamed Nehru for the existence of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Calling the release of the book as “timely and appropriate”, Singh at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre said it made a refreshing breakthrough in an atmosphere when “emotions are deliberately provoked and the gullible are misled by false propaganda and misuse of communication technology”.
Singh also said there were “dangers of leaderships falling into a trap and getting removed… from the common people whom they are supposed to serve”. He quoted Nehru as having said: “Conceit, like fat on the human body, grows imperceptibly, layer upon layer and the person whom it affects is unconscious of the daily accretion. Fortunately, the hard knocks of a mad world tone it down or even squash it completely, and there has been no lack of these hard knocks for us in India. The school of life has been difficult one, and suffering is a hard task master.”
Labeling Nehru as the main architect of Indian democracy, Singh admired his legacy and said if not for Nehru’s leadership, India would not have become what it is today.
“Nehru emerges as a remarkable man of ideas and action who had an instinctive understanding of India’s civilizational spirit and as a visionary with clear commitment to the promotion of scientific temper; and as a leader who, despite the compulsion’s of politics, remained a true democrat. His legacy continues to be of immense significance-perhaps more today than at any other time in our history,” he said.
The book is a collection of writings by Nehru — his speeches, essays and letters from pre-and post-independence years; and some of his most revealing interviews. It also comprises reminiscences and assessments of Nehru by some of his contemporaries and near contemporaries-among them, including great souls Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sheikh Abdullah, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Ali Sardar Jafri, Baldev Singh, Martin Luther King Jr, Richard Attenborough, Lee Kuan Yew and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
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