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Gandhi was a paternal paradox. No father would have done as much to promote his son as Gandhi
May 2015

Gandhi was a paternal paradox. No father would have done as much to promote his son as Gandhi did for Jawaharlal Nehru. His own son Harilal became Abdullah. He eventually died in a public hospital suffering from a venereal disease. The second son Manilal remained a non-descript resident of South Africa. Ramdas remained virtually unknown while Devdas, on his own volition, was a journalist and rose to become editor of Hindustan Times. All in all, this makes sad reading for his and Kasturba's four sons.

Come to Jawaharlal, and to Gandhi no career, no merit, if also not any life, mattered. Not even his beloved country. The first highlight of his elimination efforts to protect the future of Nehru was Subhas Chandra Bose. Netaji became president of the Congress in the normal course in 1938 and proved to be very popular. So much so that he could not but seek re-election in 1939. In the election he won by 205 AICC votes, more than Gandhi's candidate  Pattabhi Sitaramayya. His popularity was not to the Mahatma's taste who then, without saying so, boycotted the presidency of Netaji. Out of frustration Subhas Bose threw in his towel and resigned, followed up by leaving the Congress.

The next victim of Gandhi's dislike was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. 15 out of 16 Pradesh Congress Committees in 1946 had opted for the Sardar while one PCC preferred Acharya J.B. Kripalani while Jawaharlal scored nothing. Yet Gandhi appealed to Vallabhbhai to please step down and not to become president. Give Nehru a chance. Whoever was president of the Congress in 1946 would automatically be the prime minister in 1947. Sheer patriotism and blind allegiance to Bapu made Patel make the sacrifice.

How young India would have shaped if he had become prime minister, is for everyone to see. What role Netaji would have played had he remained in the Congress and not gone to Germany and Japan, is a greater conjecture. Nevertheless both these leaders had immaculate records and were impeccable patriots. But that mattered little to Gandhi if only he could place Nehru on the throne of India before departing from this world. Maybe, he thought that this was the surest path to nirvana.

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