A Devoted Disciple of Stalin
The question may be asked that if Pandit Nehru was not very important in the Congress organisation so long as Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel were alive, how did he come to dominate the organisation within a very short time after Sardar’s death, and to swing the country fast towards his Soviet Fatherland. An answer to this question needs an analysis of the character of our nationalism during our struggle with British imperialism.
The negative content of our nationalism in those days was one for all - the British must go and Indians should rule India. But when it came to postulating the positive content of our nationalism, the nationalist ranks had split apart into two opposite camps. And the two camps had struggled for supremacy ever since the Indian National Congress started becoming a radical organisation at the turn of the nineteenth century.
To one camp of nationalism belonged the various kinds of worshippers of the West. For them, India’s geography alone was of some significance because that geography placed some limits on India’s progress towards becoming a carbon copy of this or that country in the West. For the rest, India was a clean slate on which this or that ideological language could be transcribed at will. India’s hoary history, India’s ancient traditions, India’s characteristic culture, India’s philosophy and religion, had no meaning for them except in so far as they could be interpreted to fit neatly into some western model. These worshippers of the West called themselves liberals and constitutionalists so long as the British system of parliamentary democracy dominated the ideological climate in the Western world.
But as soon as the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, the leading sections of Western intelligentsia were swept into the stream of a new ideology - that of Communism. The ground for this ideological shift had been prepared by half-a-century of socialist propaganda, particularly in the universities of the West. Those intellectuals who could not stomach Bolshevik barbarism became socialists of one brand or the other. But, none the less, the socialists were like the protestant sects surrounding a monolithic Catholic Church. They had their points of difference with communist doctrine and communist ritual, but, by and large, they always rallied round Communism whenever it was under attack from any opposite ideology.
This ideological revolution in the West had a powerful impact on the worshippers of the West in India. They increasingly tended to become communists and recommended what they thought was a revolutionary programme for the regeneration of India. Pandit Nehru has been the leader of this camp ever since he was pushed forward by Mahatma Gandhi to become the President of the Indian National Congress in 1929. There are many sects and sub-sects within this camp - the liberals, the radicals, the socialists and the communists - and their mutual quarrels are quite often very bitter indeed. But whenever they are faced with the opposite camp of Indian nationalism, they try to close their ranks and present a united front of “all progressive forces”.
The opposite camp of Indian nationalism was in revolt not only against Western imperialism but also against Western civilization. For these nationalists, India could regenerate herself and rise again only if she succeeded in recapturing her ancient spirit, and revitalising her age-old traditions and institutions. And to start with, this camp had very powerful spokesmen and leaders, so much so that at the Surat Congress in 1907 it succeeded in capturing the Congress organisation and driving the Westernisers into wilderness. But the victory was short-lived. By the time of the Bolshek Revolution, the leaders of this camp were either in retirement, or mauled. The path seemed to be clear for the Westernisers to stage a comeback.
The Westernisers could not capture the Congress organization immediately. The hold of Mahatma Gandhi on the Congress and the common masses was too deep to permit that development. And the Mahatma was instinctively suspicious of whatever came from the West. Nevertheless, in the ideological struggle that followed, the Westernisers were in a clearly advantageous position. The moralisings of the Mahatma were no match for a monolithic system of thought with which the Westernisers were now armed. Increasing amounts of material support from Soviet Russia made a decisive difference.
Moreover, the Congress organisation under Mahatma Gandhi gradually passed into the hands of politicians who had, by and large, no clear-cut ideological moorings, and who pursued power to the utter neglect of any battle for the minds of men. Thus, in due course, we had the anomaly of powerful politicians who were unpopular and powerless politicians who were popular. The Western education imparted in our universities was fast multiplying an intelligentsia which supported the camp of the Westernisers. In due course, the opposite camp was left with no intelligentsia to support its case. In fact, that camp seemed to have no case at all. Mounting communist propaganda made that camp look like a crowd of mindless people serving “reactionary” causes.
That was not the truth. The camp of the Congress Right as they came to be described in latter-day political parlance had, on the whole, a larger number of clean and honest patriots in its ranks. The camp of the Congress Left was, by and large, composed of communist traitors and woolly headed socialists who were perpetually split between their loyalty to India and their addiction to the Soviet Union. But the case of the Congress Right went by default. It had no philosophy of its own and no intellectual equipment to present or defend its case. On the other hand, the Soviet apparatus in India was busy providing all the philosophy and propaganda that was needed by the Congress Left for addressing itself to the intelligentsia.
This contradiction between power and popularity continued till Sardar Patel died in December 1950. So long as he was alive, he kept the Congress Left at bay. But as soon as he was gone, the Congress Right was left with no leader who could rally its ranks. Pandit Nehru saw his opportunity and, using his popularity as a powerful handle, he forced the Congress Right to surrender the Congress organisation to him. And by the year 1954 when the Avadi Congress passed its resolution in support of the “socialistic pattern of society”, the Congress Right had already ceased to exist except in communist and socialist propaganda. The old leaders of the Congress Right ended by becoming Pandit Nehru’s clever courtiers, which they have remained ever since and which they continue to be today.
Thus the contradiction between power and popularity was at last resolved with the victory of a Westerniser inside the Congress Party. Pandit Nehru had been popular ever since he started leaning towards the communist camp. Now he rose to unrivalled power as well inside the Congress organisation. Now he could go ahead with his hymns to the Soviet Union without fear of any serious resistance from any quarters. And very soon he attained his old poetic heights in praise of the Soviet Union once more.
On June 7, 1952, he addressed the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Areas Conference in New Delhi. Coming to the language problem, he said: “It is absolutely clear to me that the Government must encourage the tribal languages. It is not enough simply to allow them to prevail. They must be given all possible support and conditions in which they can flourish must be safeguarded. We must go out of our way to achieve this. In the Soviet Republic we have the example of a country that has adopted such a policy with success. Lenin and other leaders in his time were exceedingly wise in this respect. Regardless of their ultimate objective, they wanted to win the goodwill of the people and they won it largely by their policy of encouraging their languages, by going out of their way to help hundreds of dialects, by preparing dictionaries and vocabularies and sometimes even by evolving new scripts where there were none. They wanted their people to feel that they were free to live their own lives and they succeeded in producing that impression.”1
He had never bothered to have a second look at the Soviet prison-house of nationalities. He was still repeating the slogans he had learnt during his first visit of Moscow in November 1927. If he had cared to study the latest data from the Soviet Union he would have known how all non-Russian languages had been heavily Russianised till they had come to retain only their outer shells.
A month later, on July 7, 1952, he gave a repeat performance in the Parliament. Replying to the point raised by the fellow-travelling M.P., Dr. Meghnad Saha, he said: “Professor Saha referred to the separate republics in the Soviet Union in support of the theory of linguistic provinces in India. The two are not really comparable, because India is much more of a unity than the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is no longer a single empire but the union of a number of entirely different countries. They have formed a political unit and are happy about it. That is very good. They proceeded on the basis of independent republics federating together. Now, India cannot function on that basis.”2
He was right about India being different. But he did not refer to, or refute, the communist proposition, entertained by the likes of Dr. Saha, that India too was a bundle of nationalities. And only a Soviet-addict could believe, as late, as July 1952, that the Soviet Slave Empire was a “federation of independent republics”. The autocratic manner in which Stalin had created and abolished Soviet republics had failed to leave any impression on his mind.
On November 1, 1952, he addressed the Harijan Convention at Wardha. Speaking about the dignity of labour, he cited the Soviet precedent in the following words: “After the revolution of 1917, the Russians had to work tremendously hard before they could reach their present position. They had their Five Year Plans and laboured with diligence and patience for them. The people gladly endured hardship and suffering so that the foundations of their Republic may be true and strong. The Russian Revolution took place 35 years ago and it is only now that the people are beginning to gather the fruits of their labours. For the first decade, they had to work hard and suffer even more than they did under the old regime, but they had courage and confidence.”3
Only a Soviet-addict could believe, at the end of 1952, that the forced labour extracted by Stalin from whole masses of a terrorised people was a symbol of sacrifice and willingly accepted hard work. For others, the story of Soviet slave-labour camps was too well documented to leave them in any doubt about the “dignity of labour” in Soviet Russia.
But the clearest evidence that he was still an unrepentant Soviet-addict came on March 6, 1953. Stalin, the blood-thirsty dictator of Soviet Russia for twenty-five years, had died (or been murdered) the previous day. The Russian people and even the Russian communists heaved a sigh of relief at the passing away of this fiend, as we were to know in 1956 when Khrushchev made his famous speech about Stalin. But the communists and fellow-travellers outside the Soviet Union felt orphaned. And in that list of orphans, Pandit Nehru stood almost at the top.
Using the floor of a democratic parliament for paying tribute to the most terrible tyrant in human history, he said on March 6, 1953: “When we think of Marshal Stalin all kinds of thoughts come to our minds, at least to my mind and the panorama of history for the last 35 years passes before our eyes. All of us here are children of his age… We have grown up not only participating in our struggles in this country but participating in other ways with the mighty struggles that have taken place in this world, and been affected by them. And so looking back at these 35 years or so, many figures stand out, but perhaps no single figure has moulded and affected and influenced the history of these years more than Marshal Stalin… He proved himself great in peace and in war… He was, I believe, technically hot the head of the Soviet State - but Marshal Stalin was something much more than the head of a State… I believe that his influence was exercised generally in favour of peace. When war came, he proved himself a very great warrior, but from all information that we have had, his influence has been in favour of peace.”4
Nothing could be more shameful and sad than this praise of Stalin by the Prime Minister of a democratic country in which the large majority of people still professed a faith in Sanatana Dharma. For Pandit Nehru personally, it was doubly shameful. For, Stalin was the only world leader who had kept mum when Mahatma Gandhi was murdered in 1948. The incident revealed that his real Master all these years had been Marshal Stalin and not Mahatma Gandhi as many people had believed and continue to believe even today.
It was a foregone conclusion that once a Soviet-addict like Pandit Nehru rose to supreme power in India, the Communist Party of India would have full opportunity for spreading its poison and expanding its apparatus. All through 1952 and 1953, a spate of cultural delegations passing between India and this or that communist country. The communist fronts became frantically active. Communist literature from Soviet Russia and Red China started pouring into India in an increasing torrent. Very soon, the atmosphere was surcharged with communist slogans. And an American explanation was abroad that Pandit Nehru was striking at the very roots of the Communist Party of India by “taking the wind out of its sails”, that is, by shouting communist slogans more loudly and adopting communist policies more enthusiastically than even the communists themselves.
It was a measure of the atmosphere at that time that when Pandit Nehru’s old and trusted friend, Shaikh Abdullah, had to be dismissed and jailed, he was dismissed and jailed not as a traitor to India, which he was, but as an American agent, that is, as a traitor to the communist camp. That was a lie of course, and Shaikh Abdullah’s opponents have still to provide proof that this spoilt child of Pandit Nehru’s perverted Secularism was conspiring with anyone except his own unlimited ambition. But this lie passed unchallenged because the atmosphere had become full of much bigger lies.
There were certain other developments which we shall take up when we come to Pandit Nehru’s foreign policy. As a result of all these developments, the stage was set by the middle of 1954 for Chou En-lai to make a dramatic dash from Geneva to New Delhi and sign the famous Panchashila. Towards the end of the year Pandit Nehru paid a return visit to Red China. He had now found a new communist Fatherland in Mao’s New China in addition to his old Fatherland in Stalin’s Soviet Russia.
So far he had been harping that conditions in India were very much similar to conditions in Soviet Russia. Now he started sounding a different note. The conditions in India were no more similar to conditions in Soviet Russia, but compared very favourably with conditions in communist China. Speaking at a press conference on November 13, 1954, he said: “The nature of problems is similar between India and China. They are not so similar between India and Russia. The Soviet Union is a vast territory but very thinly inhabited, compared to India. We have the problem of vast numbers of human beings but limited land. The Soviet Union has plenty of land. See the consequences of this, apart from communism. If they in Russia want to deal with their land problem, it is very easy, because the population is small and land plentiful. With us human beings are too many, and land is little. That is a basic difference. Take our Gangetic Valley, which is heavily populated. The problem of our introducing, let us say, tractor cultivation in a heavily populated area is completely different from the problem of introducing tractor cultivation in a sparsely populated area, which the Soviet Union is. One has to approach the problem by taking into consideration various factors, quite apart from theories. That is why I say that the problems of India and China in regard to land development, industries, and even in regard to floods, are rather similar.”5
It is a truism that problems are not universal and objective, that is, they do not exist irrespective of the ideological manner in which we look at them. The Chinese were now presenting their problems in a communist perspective that had been imposed on them by a Soviet-built political apparatus. The problems presented by India could not be similar unless India was also starting to look at them through communist glasses. So when Pandit Nehru invited his countrymen to put their problems on par with problems of China, he was simultaneously suggesting a communist solution. And the communist professors led by Prasant Mahalonobis and aided by Soviet experts were, in fact, hammering out a communist plan inside the Planning Commission in those very days.
Next year, Pandit Nehru visited the Soviet Union as a state guest. He described the visit as a “pilgrimage”, the second on his part. He had been pining to be in the Soviet Union since a very long time. But circumstance after circumstance had conspired to prevent him from this fulfilment. Now he had his darshan. He received a hero’s reception. That was his due after all the services he had rendered to the Soviet cause inside India and on the international stage. And he paid rich tributes to his dreamland. Speaking in Moscow on June 22, 1955, he admired the Soviet Union in the following words: “I have been deeply impressed by the greats achievements of the Soviet Union. I have seen the transformation of this vast land through the industry of its people and the great urge that drives them forward to better their own condition. I have admired the music, dancing and superb ballets that I have seen. I have been impressed most of all by the great care taken by the State and by the people of children and the younger generation of this great country.”6
A few months later, Bulganin and Khrushchev were in India. He gave them a reception which these people had never known in the whole of their lives. One has to look at his photographs on this occasion and compare them with his photographs on other occasions in order to rind out how hilarious he was feeling all along. Something of that hilarity flowed out into his speeches. Speaking at a banquet given in Rashtrapati Bhavan on November 22, 1955, he addressed Bulganin and Khrushchev in the following words: “This is not a mere formal matter of welcome. Events have demonstrated that there is a deeper friendship and understanding between the people of our two great countries which are more significant than the formality of welcome. That understanding and friendship has progressively grown, even though the paths we have pursued in our respective countries have varied. But in spite of this difference of approach in dealing with our problems, which was inevitable in the circumstances which conditioned our countries and our peoples, there has been no element of conflict between us and there has been an approach to each other in many important fields of human activity. I am happy that this is so, and I hope it will be so in the future. We are neighbour countries and it is right that there should be a feeling of neighbourliness and friendship between us for the mutual advantage of both our countries and our peoples. I believe also that this friendship is good for the larger causes of the world, and more particularly for the most vital cause of all, the peace of the world.”7
One wonders what friendship could be possible between a country like India which had no ambitions outside her natural borders, and a country like Soviet Russia which had been conspiring to add India to her empire ever since 1920 and which was maintaining a hired fifth-column inside India. Bulganin and Khrushchev must have felt fulfilled as they watched this performance on the part of their most prominent dupe in India..
On January 7, 1956, he again cited communist China and Soviet Russia as models for India in the following words:
“It is agreed by all-and that indeed is our firm policy-that we should go towards a socialist structure of society. We want that not because of some emotional feeling but for very practical considerations. We cannot meet the social problem of the day except in that direction. I hope everybody realizes that to achieve socialism or indeed to achieve any kind of a really high standard in this country is a long-term process. It is not good to delude the public that we can achieve it quickly. Even in China Chairman Mao repeatedly talks of achieving socialism in twenty years in spite of all the authoritarian powers that they have had and the tremendous capacity of the Chinese people for work.
“We talk of Russia, but we forget that it is 38 years since they have been at it, apart from communism and other considerations. I asked the Soviet leaders who were here, when they thought they would achieve their objective of a communist society and they said that it would take fifteen or twenty years more-whatever their idea of a communist society is. Perhaps it means abundance for everybody.”8
But Khrushchev dropped a bomb on believers like Pandit Nehru. He revealed the misdeeds of Stalin before the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. This must have been a moment of supreme mental crisis for Pandit Nehru. He had worshipped and worked for Stalin for thirty years. But he was no ordinary devotee. He gritted his teeth and quietly absorbed the shock. Stalin might have been a monster, but there could be no doubt that the Soviet society which Stalin had created was a very great piece of work! Speaking before the Lok Sabha on March 20, 1956, he welcomed the “new trends” in Soviet Russia in the following words: “I should like to take this opportunity of drawing the attention of the House to a very important event in recent weeks. I refer to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union which met recently in Moscow. There can be no doubt that this Congress has adopted a new line and a new policy. This new line, both in political thinking and in practical policy, appears to be based upon a more realistic appreciation of the present world situation and represents a significant process of adaptation and adjustment. According to our principles we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, just as we do not welcome any interference of others in our country. But any important development in any country which appears to be a step towards the creation of conditions favourable to the pursuit of a policy of peaceful coexistence is important for us as well as others. It is for this reason that we feel that the decisions of the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Union are likely to have far-reaching effects. I hope that this development will lead to a further relaxation of tension in the world.”9 Not a single word about the sins of Stalin!
So far he had been praising the Soviet Union because Stalin was there. Now he was praising it on the plea that Stalin was no more there! He conceded, although indirectly, that the old critics of Stalin’s Russia whom he had attacked and ridiculed as reactionaries for more than thirty years, were right. But in the next breath, he took a right-about-turn and came back to his old position of admiration for the Soviet Union. He barked back at the critics that now that Stalin had been denounced they should have no cause for complaint. All his Marxism could not help him to see that a whole epoch of human history could not be blamed upon an individual. Stalin was as much a creature as a creator of Communism. And Soviet Russia was still swearing by that ideology.
Thus he had passed the supreme test laid down by the Soviet bosses: Are you for or against the Soviet Union? The dethronement of Stalin was a disillusionment for many men and women of weaker mettle. He was not one of them. He had qualified for that class of Soviet-addicts who will always stand by the Soviet Union till either the Soviet Union breaks down under the weight of its own crimes or they themselves suffer a fall due to their frightful follies.10
Ibid., p. 46. Italics added. ↩
Ibid., p. 61-62. Italics added. ↩
Ibid., p. 63. Italics added. ↩
Quoted by C. Parameshwaran, Nehru’s Foreign Policy X-Rayed, New Delhi, 1954, pp. 82-83. Italics added. ↩
Jawaharlal Nehru’s Speeches, 1953-57, The Publications Division, Government of India, New Delhi, Second Impression, 1958, p. 277. Italics added. ↩
Ibid., p. 305. ↩
Ibid., p. 309. Italics added. ↩
Ibid., p. 76. Italics added. ↩
Ibid., p. 318. Italics added. ↩
Alas! Pandit Nehru suffered a fall and passed away before the Soviet Union broke down. One wonders what he would have said in 1991, had he lived to see the collapse of Communism. I am sure he would have joined the club of morons who maintain that the failure of Soviet practice does not invalidate communist theory. (Footnote added in 1993). ↩