This article has been co-authored by Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj, Chandra Mauli Singh.
Section A: Introduction
There has been, for a while, a pervasive disillusionment in India about compromise of core values in politics in India, which has led to mass movements from time to time, the latest being in 2011 initiated by activist Anna Hazare. The degeneration spans:
1) unhealthy nexus between corporates and politics leading to policy choices and administrative decisions based on considerations other than national interests as also influence of money power in electioneering,
2) subversion of national interests through foreign interference,
3) subjugation of ideals and ideologies to personality cults which is manifested in and in turn fed by subversion of internal democracy in political parties, and
4) divisive politics.
The severity of public disenchantment on 1) can be assessed from the fact that Arvind Kejriwal won assembly polls in Delhi within a couple of years of his formal entry in politics by campaigning against the same. It is susceptibility to foreign interference that is believed to have induced major political parties in India to support emergency (CPI supported Indira Gandhi’s declaration of emergency allegedly at the beck and call of Soviet Russia; it is not known if and what major concessions Russia extracted from India in return) and foreign aggression (CPI(M) refused to condemn Chinese invasion of India in 1962). Ironically, the Left parties have been the first to contend that Indian politics is subservient to foreign imperialism and interests. Recently, a member from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s own party, the JD(U), alleged that Kumar received funds from Pakistan to oppose then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi .
Most of the major national and state level leaders in post independence India, spanning from Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Jayalalithaa, Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banarjee, Mayawati have been products of personality cults. Centrality of personality cult in Indian political discourse has led to compromise on democratic principles and financial integrity. It is the dominance of a personality that allowed the suspension of our democracy in form of emergency in 1975. It is again the same personality cult that provided in 1984 the largest ever majority in the history of India to a prime ministerial candidate who joined politics a couple of years back; the regime perpetrated major political blunders commissioning Indian army in conflicts in which India was not a party) and became embroiled in multiple corruption allegations. Indian politics is now largely dynastic leading to concentration of political power in a handful of political families, and dynasties have invariably been initiated through personality cults. Followers of political cults have remained oblivious to the compromise of interests of the nation by corresponding leaders (alleged disproportionate assets of Mulayam Yadav and Mayawati, facilitation of separatism in Jammu and Kashmir through political understandings between PDP and BJP led by PM Narendra Modi). Finally, no major political party in India, national or regional, adheres to internal democracy in election of its principal office bearers. Prime ministerial and chief ministerial candidates and party presidents are not decided through primaries or internal elections. Provisions for elections of party presidents exist in the two major national level political parties, Congress and BJP, but democratic contests for the same are considered divisive and strongly discouraged. Presidents and prime ministerial and chief ministerial candidates are typically decided by birth or nomination, as in Congress and regional parties, or by unstructured internal consultations as in the BJP. Divisive politics has encouraged regionalism, casteism , discrimination based on religion and marginalisation of mass leaders at state level for perpetuating the hegemony of high commands of national parties.
Tracing the genesis of this all encompassing degeneration of political ethics constitutes the key to its remedy. Through a microscopic examination of the interactions between two polar opposite personae in the history of our freedom struggle – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose – we will establish that all the debilitating factors we have identified can be traced to pre-independence politics led by the former. We choose Gandhi and Bose because they represent opposing concepts of India’s yet unresolved nationhood – one that at best advocates advances in national interests through entreaties, loyalty, compromises and deals and at worst represents abject surrender to foreign imperialism, while the other that believes freedom is not given, it is taken through unrelenting, militant and if necessary violent, struggle. An examination of this interaction will be illuminating for it will reveal that core political ethics were violated through close nexus between premier political leaders like Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel on one hand and multi-millionaire industrialists like Ghanashyamdas Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj on the other. The interests of leading industrialists (Birla, Tata, Bajaj etc) were in part allied with Britain and they naturally served as interface between England and Gandhi. Yet, it will become apparent that Gandhi and his closest disciples (Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajagopalchari, Rajendra Prasad etc) sought to perpetuate their hegemony on Indian National Congress through money power (provided by big corporates) and divisive politics (appealing to regionalism). They also allowed the industrialists to influence key political decisions ignoring obvious conflicts of interest. The same icons of India’s independence struggle (Gandhi, Patel, Nehru) routinely exchanged intelligence and political information with Britain, the colonial master they appeared to fight, and its close ally USA. This information was used by the entities in question to crush internal challenge to the leadership of Gandhi arising from within Congress and nip in the bud political and military movements that would pose serious challenge to colonial interests. Specifically, definitive evidence has recently emerged that Bose’s family members were snooped on by intelligence agencies of independent India, likely with the connivance of the first prime minister Nehru, and even worse such information has been shared with British intelligence agencies [48, 49]. We will show that this murky practice has a long standing precedent in Indian polity – Gandhi was for example privy to intelligence information gathered on then Congress president Subhas Chandra Bose by British agencies (who shared the same with Gandhi) . It is also pertinent to note that prior to independence the leftist blocs decided their courses of action not in national interests but in accordance with instructions from English and Russian communist parties. India’s freedom movement was therefore, not only subverted, but also controlled by multiple foreign powers. We will show how the personality cult surrounding Gandhi was used to subvert the internal democracy in Congress, and more importantly the freedom struggle at crucial junctures of Indian history. We would perhaps be able to conclude that the current maladies afflicting Indian politics represent a continuity of history which could not be contained as India never enacted a clean break from her colonial past and chose as her icons the very same individuals who practised the identified degenerations.
Since this article will be critical of major icons of India’s independence struggle, we would rely on facts that have been reported similarly, in essence, by those at the opposing ends of then political spectrum spanning Bose (a key protagonist himself) on one hand and J Kripalani (a committed Gandhian and a permanent member of the Congress working committee during Gandhi regime), Rajmohan Gandhi (MK Gandhi’s grandson) and Maulana Azad (another permanent member of Congress working committee during Gandhi regime as also a former Congress president-he was also close to Nehru). We will corroborate the facts they report quoting writings of GD Birla, a big industrialist who would be shown to have a close nexus with Mahatma Gandhi and his coterie, and the accounts of GD Birla’s biographer, M Kudiaisya, who was provided access to his private papers by his family. We will establish our contentions on the left parties through information acquired by left ideologues like Suniti Ghosh and eminent historians like Leonard Gordon (author of Brothers against the Raj ). We have used quotes that Suniti Ghosh used in his books after checking most of the primary sources he has cited; we have cited his primary sources as well. We will also cite information provided by generally well regarded secondary sources of history such as RC Majumdar.
Section B: Background – The personality cult of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – its genesis and impact
Section B.1: The extent of the personality cult of Gandhi-Nehru: Congress, at the time, meant Gandhiji
During 1928-1939, MK Gandhi had established complete control on the then predominant party, Indian National Congress, which would become evident by examining his impact on the composition of its principal decision making body, the working committee, and its President. First, JB Kripalani wrote, All important decisions were taken by the working committee as a body. p. 177, . The Nagpur constitution and the Bombay Congress amendments of 1934 concentrated all powers in the hands of the Congress working committee. It had the authority to dissolve an elected Provincial committee or a lower committee. Nehru wrote that That (Congress working) committee was practically his (Gandhi’s) creation: he had nominated it, in consultation with a few colleagues, and the election itself was a formal matter. The backbone of the Committee consisted of members who had served on it for many years and had come to be considered as permanent members p. 287, . Commenting on the period up to the end of the year 1938, JB. Kripalani wrote that Since the time Gandhiji assumed leadership of the freedom fight, the Congress president had been unanimously elected with his goodwill. pp. 177-178, . Nehru wrote that Gandhi has been the president-maker and wanted to be Mussolini all the time while others were made by him temporary kings and figure heads – also that I (Nehru) became president of the Congress entirely because of him [Gandhi] pp. 286-287, . It would be useful to reproduce the relevant parts from Nehru in its entirety: There is a curious assumption that Vallabhbhai Patel got the Congress presidentship in 1931 in rivalry with Mr Gandhi. As a matter of fact, Mr Gandhi has been bigger person in the Congress (and of course, in the country) than any Congress president could possibly be. He has been the president-maker, and invariably, his suggestions have been followed. Regularly, he refused to preside, and preferred that some of his colleagues and lieutenants should do so. I became president of the Congress entirely because of him. He had actually been elected, but he withdrew and forced my election. Mr. Vallabhbhai Patel’s election was not normal. We had just come out of prison and the Congress Committees were still illegal bodies and could not function in the ordinary way. The Working Committee, therefore, took it upon itself to elect the president of the Karachi Congress. The whole committee, including Vallabhbhai Patel, begged Gandhi to accept the presidentship and thus become the titular head, as he was the real head, of the Congress during the coming critical year. He would not agree and insisted upon Vallabhbhai Patel accepting it. I remember that it was pointed out to him at the time that he wanted to be Mussolini all the time, while others were made by him, temporary kings and figureheads. pp. 286-287 . (The Congressmen who begged Sonia Gandhi to assume the office of the prime minister of India instead of the titular head that Manmohan Singh was, were therefore following in the foot-steps of the Working Committee of 1931 which included both Nehru and Patel.
The author of the official history of the Congress, Pattabhi Sitaramayya said that Gandhi was the power behind the throne. p. 72,  (also quoted in p. 562, ). The validity of the assessments of Nehru, Kripalani and Sitaramayya is borne by the fact that the first two belonged to the backbone of the Committee Nehru spoke of, that is, they served on it for many years and had come to be considered as permanent members, while the last had complete confidence of Gandhi to the extent that Gandhi nominated Sitaramayya to contest Bose for Congress presidency and would consider his defeat as his own p. 567, . Thus, none of them was a disgruntled member embittered by severance of his privileges so to speak. Bose, who was ideologically opposed to Gandhi, concurred: The Congress working committee today is undoubtedly composed of some of the finest men of India – men who have character and courage, patriotism and sacrifice. But most of them have been chosen primarily because of their blind loyalty to the Mahatma – and there are few among them who have the capacity to think for themselves or the desire to speak out against the Mahatma when he is likely to take a wrong step. In the circumstances the Congress cabinet of today is a one-man show. p. 67, . Examining the interactions between Gandhi and Bose we would show that Gandhi dropped members from working committee whenever they showed substantive disagreements on core policies; also the former in fact installed presidents by violating established democratic norms and constitutional procedures ( Nehru indicates the same in his last quote that we have reproduced). The working committee would invariably support Gandhi’s presidential nominees (as also his policy choices which would subvert the freedom struggle), as every member owed to him his appointment and continuation. Nehru summed it up well: Gandhiji was the permanent super-president of the Congress and Congress, at the time, meant Gandhiji p. 78,  (also quoted in p. 562, ). Finally, in Gandhi’s own words (a few weeks before his death): But, today I have become a sort of burden. There was a time when my word was law. But it is no longer so. pp. 394, , p. 124, . In other words, for a long time, Gandhi’s words were laws in Congress.
It is remarkable that Gandhi retired from Congress in 1934 and ceased to be a primary member of the Congress party ever since. But, he continued to attend the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and All India Congress Committee (AICC) meetings and no vital decision was made without his consent. Bose analysed this curious phenomenon as follows: The question here arises: has the Mahatma retired. If so, why? He has retired in the sense that his name does not appear in the list of members of the supreme executive of the Congress. But the executive – the working committee – has been backed by his blind supporters. The present working committee is more submissive to the Mahatma than even the working committee of last year, of which the Mahatma was himself a member. Among the personnel of the present working commiteee, the Swarajists or Parliamentarians are conspicuous by their absence. Even MS Aney who dared to differ from the Mahatma on the question of Communal Award, is not there, despite his loyalty and submissiveness in the past. And poor Nariman who ventured to think independently has been virtually kicked out of the committee. In 1924, the Mahatma had really retired from Congress politics together with his party, as the Congress machinery has been seized by his opponents, the Swarajists. Today, the person of the Mahatma may not even be in the committee-but his party is there, stronger than ever. Moreover, he has direct control over the most important department of future Congress activity – the village industries association. The so called retirement of the Mahatma will not, accordingly, diminish his hold over the Congress machinery in any way-but will enable him to disown all responsibility for the failures of the official Congress party for the next few years. His retirement therefore, is only one of his strategic retreats to which he is in the habit of resorting whenever there is a political slump in the country. pp. 342-343 . The discerning readers will note another continuity of history here, that of, power without accountability, enacted by another Congress president, more than 50 years later, in Sonia Gandhi’s nomination of an MP, who never won any direct franchise, Manmohan Singh, as PM.
Section B.2: The genesis of the personality cult of Gandhi
How Gandhi acquired this over-arching control over Congress constitutes an elaborate study in itself which is beyond the scope of this article. We mention the points that would be pertinent to this article.
Section B.2.1 Mass support due to attribution of religiosity to a political leader
First, Gandhi was undoubtedly popular among the masses in at least north and west of India. He came across more as a religious leader, the Mahatma, to them, as opposed to a political leader. His popularity relied on a combination of religiosity, irrationality and susceptibility to personas who come across as avatars promising to attain mission impossible. Bose analyses the phenomenon well: Though Hindu society has never had an established church like Europe, the mass of the people have been profoundly susceptible to the influence of avatars, priests, and gurus. The spiritual man has wielded the largest influence in India, and he is called a saint, or mahatma, or sadhu. For various reasons, Gandhiji came to be looked upon the masses as a Mahatma before he became the undisputed political leader of India. At the Nagpur Congress in December 1920, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was till then a nationalist leader, addressed him as Mr Gandhi, and he was shouted down by thousands of people who insisted that he should address him as Mahatma Gandhi. The asceticism of Gandhiji, his simple life, his vegetarian diet, his adherence to truth and his consequent fearlessness – all combined to give him a halo of saintliness. His loin cloth was reminiscent of Christ, while his sitting posture at the time was reminiscent of Buddha. Now, all this was a tremendous asset to the Mahatma in compelling the attention and obedience of his countrymen. As we have already seen, a large and influential section of the intelligentsia was against him, but this opposition was gradually worn down through the enthusiastic support given by the masses. Consciously or unconsciously, the Mahatma fully exploited the mass psychology of the people, just as Lenin did the same thing in Russia, Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany… In 1920, when the Congress began to preach the political doctrine of non-co-operation, a large number of Congressmen who had accepted the Mahatma as not merely a political leader but also as a religious preceptor – began to preach the cult of the new messiah. As a consequence, many people gave up eating fish and meat, took the same dress as the Mahatma, adopted his daily habits like morning and evening prayer, and began to talk more of spiritual freedom than of political Swaraj. In many parts of the country, the Mahatma began to be worshipped as an avatar. Such was the madness that seized the country that in April 1923 in a politically minded province like Bengal, a resolution moved at the Jessore political conference to the effect that the goal of the Congress was not spiritual Swaraj but political Swaraj was defeated at the end of a heated debate. In 1922, when the writer was in prison, the Indian warders in the service of the prisons department would refuse to believe that the Mahatma had been cast in prison by the British Government. They would say in all seriousness that if Gandhiji was a Mahatma, he could assume the shape of a bird and escape from prison any moment he liked. To make matters worse, political issues would no longer be considered in the cold light of reason, but would be unnecessarily mixed up with ethical issues. The Mahatma and his followers, would not for example countenance the boycott of British goods [during 1920-1922], because that would engender hatred towards the British. Even so intellectual a personality as the celebrated poetess, Sarojini Naidu, in her speech at the Gaya Congress in December 1922, condemned the Swarajist policies on the ground that councils were places of Maya, where Congressmen would be tempted by bureaucratic overtures. And worst of all was the tendency on the part of the orthodox followers of the Mahatma to regard everything that he said as the Gospel truth without reasoning or arguing and to accept his paper Young India as their Bible pp. 126-127, . Wherever Gandhi went, he held prayer meetings, which were extensively attended. Bose observed about the Congress session at Karachi in March, 1931: During the Congress session, the Mahatma used to hold a public prayer in the morning, and unprecedented crowds attended it. No propaganda could be more effective in drawing public support. p. 230 . Maulana. Azad had observed: I may here confess that many people thought that Gandhiji would bring freedom for India, by some magic or superhuman effort, and did not therefore think it necessary to make any special personal effort . p. 83, . Pertinent to note that attribution of spiritual or messianic halo to political leaders has perpetuated in India ever since – Indira Gandhi came across as a Goddess to the under-privileged section of India, temples have been built with Sonia Gandhi and Narendra Modi as presiding Gods and Godesses, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal are both considered as messiahs as good governance and clean politics by their respective followers.
Gandhi was certainly aware of the benefits of the attribution of spiritual halo. In a prayer meeting in 1947, he stated in our country, a Mahatma enjoys the right to do anything. He may commit murder, indulge in acts of debauchery or whatever else he chooses; he is always pardoned. Who is there to question him? pp. 162, , pp. 124-125, . He also knew how to come across as a Mahatma, as he said: If one makes a fuss of eating and drinking and wears a langoti, one can easily acquire the title of Mahatma in this country. pp. 189, , p. 124, . He started wearing his famous loin cloth only after he returned to India from South Africa and he did sport Western attire during his political agitation in the latter. Truth be told, he did not utilise his title to directly perpetrate any of the atrocities he enumerates, but remained content with subverting the freedom struggle to India’s detriment. We will let also the reader make up his own mind about how much truth and ahimsa Gandhi adhered to, by quoting his own speeches and writings. For example, he called for boycott of all foreign cloths in 1930, which can surely be explained as a change in tactics, but not from the perspective from which he opposed the same during 1920-22 (referring to Bose’s quote above)- that it engendered hatred for the nations whose merchandise would be boycotted.
Section B.2.2 Divisive politics of Gandhi based centre-state conflict and regionalism
Gandhi did not however gain his absolute control on Congress machinery by virtue of his mass appeal alone. Bose himself had extensive mass support in large parts of India but could never acquire the Gandhian ownership even in the Bengal Congress. Gandhi acquired and maintained his hold on Congress through his realpolitik facilitated by generous financial support of leading industrialists like GD Birla, Tata and Jamanlal Bajaj. We first describe his realpolitik. Gandhi installed factions that supported him at the helm of the provincial Congress committees, wherever he could, and encouraged factions that opposed his ideological adversaries wherever they were dominant. He had his staunch disciples Vallabhbhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad in charge of Gujarat and Bihar Congress respectively. He first removed a popular leader, Srinivas Iyengar, of Madras from Congress Working Committee (we will give more details on him later), and subsequently installed C Rajagopalchari as the premier of the Madras Presidency when Congress assumed office in 1937.
Incidentally, post Sengupta’s death in 1933, Gandhi would ensure that his widow Nellie Sengupta became the Congress president in 1934. Nellie Sengupta’s standing in state and national level politics was hardly commensurate with the august office of INC president – she did not hold any elected office prior to this appointment. This, as also JM Sengupta’s appointment in the working committee, was an effort by Gandhi to promote the Gandhian faction in Bengal. As an aside, Gandhi opposed the induction of Vasanti Devi, the widow of CR Das, in any organisation. In a letter to Dr. BC. Roy on December 7, 1932, he wrote: Syt. Khaitan gave me your message about Vasanti Devi, I told him that I wanted her to make her own choice, but wanted her to work effectively and ceaselessly in the cause of anti-untouchability. I am not enamored of her accepting any office in any organisation. When I was there at the time of the Deshbandhu collections, both she and I came to the conclusion that her job was not to run any organisation but simply to work whenever she was free and had the mind for it. pp. 142-143, , p. 64, . This was although Vasanti Devi had galvanised non-cooperation movement in Bengal by courting arrest in 1921 when women of social standing were yet to participate in mass movements pp. 71-72 . It would be relevant to note that Vasanti Devi’s late husband, CR Das, was also the political mentor of Bose and she remained an adopted mother to Bose throughout his sojourn in India (definitely in 1932 when Gandhi wrote the above letter). Even more, during his lifetime CR Das had effectively opposed Gandhi’s policies – his Swarajist party was strong enough to send Gandhi to voluntary retirement in which he remained from 1925 to 1929 pp. 113, 125 .
Notwithstanding the road blocks inserted by Gandhi, the BPCC faction led by Bose indeed remained in majority in Bengal – yet the dissent voiced by the Gandhian faction was adequate to ensure that Bengal Congress remained under the scrutiny of the high command throughout Bose’s sojourn in India. Nepotist disbursement of working committee membership would remain an effective tool to procure loyalty to Gandhi in future as well, and create counter weights to political leaders with mass supports in their respective states. High commands in both national parties have repeatedly used this technique till date ( Vajpayee and Rajnath Singh incited local factions against Kalyan Singh and Babulal Marandi in UP and Jharkhand respectively). And, utilising the services of a politically naive widow, or more generally a close relative, as a proxy of a recently expired political leader continues till date ( the first political office that Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, and Naveen Patnaik, the son of Biju Patnaik occupied were that of Congress president and chief minister of Odissa respectively).
It is worthwhile to note that uncharacteristic of a Mahatma, Gandhi retained a distaste, bordering on ethnic hatred, for the provinces and communities that did not accept his policies as enthusiastically as others or harboured dominant factions that politically opposed him. Bengal (particularly the Hindus in Bengal) and Punjab satisfied both the above criteria. On February 25, 1919, after deciding to launch Satyagraha against the repressive Rowlatt act, he wrote to the editor of The Indian Social Reformer , K Natarajan: If you do not provide the rising generation an effective remedy against the excesses of authority, you will let loose the powers of vengeance and the doctrine of the Little Bengal cult of violence will spread with the rapidity which all will deplore. pp. 302, , p. 189, . While giving evidence on the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre, he told the Disorders Inquiry Committee, known as Hunter Committee (set up by Government of India) that the proper course should have been for the Viceroy to use his powers of emergency legislation, ie, to use ordinances in order to stamp out anarchy instead of the Rowlatt Act p. 189, . Note that the ordinances applied only locally, and the target area he recommended was Bengal. He argued that anarchy proper has been confined to Bengal but after all Bengal is not India. He added that he would not underrate the significance of it and that it was serious enough to warrant strong Government measures. He held that the conditions in Bengal were such as made the adoption of such strong measures necessary. pp. 283-285, , pp. 189-190, . Thus, he did not mind the repression of a province that was ideologically opposed to him, but objected to its extension to all of India – yet another example of divisive politics. Government of India did indeed honor his advice and replaced the Rowlatt act with ordinances that Gandhi recommended with severe repercussions on the populace therein. They introduced multiple ordinances during 1931-1932 in Bengal in general and districts like Chittagong, Dacca, Midnapore in particular, that in effect placed these regions under martial laws, and empowered the executive to seize buildings, to order citizens on pain of punishment to assist them in suppression of terrorism, to impose collective fines on villagers. Attempt to murder, and even possession of arms, explosives, were made punishable by death in 1933-1934 in Bengal pp. 261, 272, 281, .
By the end of 1921, Gandhi, was angry at the Bengalis as Bengal fell far short in its production of khadi, although Gandhi’s fervent followers had established some Gandhian-type ashrams. The Mahatma who supposedly despised violence said If, then, there are not enough volunteers in Bengal, I should think she should be swept into the Bay of Bengal and make room for better men and women. pp. 365, , p. 91, .
Gandhi had fasted against creating electorates for scheduled castes, which resulted in the Poona pact, signed on September 24, 1932, but is not known to have objected to the Communal Award of 1932 which substantially disadvantaged non-Muslims in Bengal and Punjab. It reserved seats for Muslims to the extent that Hindus (in particular upper caste Hindus) would henceforth be substantially under-represented as compared to their population in the state legislature in Bengal and (more specifically non-Muslims in) Punjab. For example, in a house of 250 in Bengal, 119 (47.6 per cent of total seats) seats were reserved for Muslims (then constituting 54.8 per cent of the total population of Bengal) who were also given separate electorates, non-Muslims (Hindus then comprised 44.8 per cent of the total population of Bengal) were to have 80 seats (32 per cent of the total seats), 30 of 80 were to be reserved for scheduled castes and two for women. p. 318, , p. 178, . Most prominent Hindu Bengalis, Rabindranath Thakur, Shyamaprasad Mookerjee, Subhas Bose felt wounded and wronged, but to no avail p. 318, . It was virtually guaranteed that only Muslim parties could form governments in these provinces, which in due course, blatantly discriminated against non-Muslims there, and facilitated partition. Gandhi’s confidant GD Birla, who has been celebrated in the Hindu community for constructing multiple Hindu temples and rest-houses, justified this act that discriminated against Hindus of Bengal and Punjab, as inevitable p. 160, . GD Birla was also extremely close to Vallabhbhai Patel who is feted as a Hindu icon and who did not protest against the Communal Award either. Gandhi has also never criticised the British for artificially inducing the Bengal famine of 1943 which killed approximately 3.5 million in 1943 p. 504, . Post-independence, regimes at the centre continued to discriminate against the provinces where their parties were weak (Congress regime discriminated against Gujarat during 2002-2012 and PM Modi has just signed off ten thousand acres of land of West Bengal to Bangladesh).
Section B.2.3 Impact of money power acquired through unhealthy nexus between Gandhi, his coterie and big industrialists
Gandhi succeeded in his political manoeuvres because he largely controlled funds to Congress courtesy generous contributions of leading industrialists. GD Birla regularly donated to Gandhi – can be seen from the correspondences he reproduced in his book pp. 7-16, 32-34, 88, 98, 101, 118, 170, 201, 226, 263 . In the period between January 1930 and March 1931, GD Birla gave between one and five lakh rupees according to the estimate of a high British official p. 72, . SK Patil, and Kasturbhai Lalbhai also donated generously to the Congress Party p. 72, . Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was a close associate of both Gandhi and GD Birla, wrote in the foreword to a book authored by the last: GD Birla always stood for us during our struggle for freedom, and helped us, whenever required, by contribution and Gandhiji in fact never hesitated to draw on their (Birlas) resources when it was necessary to do so, nor did they (Birlas) ever hesitate to put their resources at his disposal . Gandhi and his coterie regularly stayed at Birla houses in different parts of India. His correspondences were regularly directed to and from Birla houses p. 130, p. 144 . He was assassinated in Birla house in Delhi. His staunch follower Vallabhbhai Patel also died in Birla house p. X1X, . His secretary Mahadev Desai met British representatives (Mr. Laithwaite, Viceroy’s secretary) at Birla house p. 243, .
As early as July, 1923, MR Jayakar, a prominent Swarajist of Maharashtra and founder of the liberal party observed: The internal control of politics in Gandhi’s time is often exercised through the influence of wealth and patronage and a community like the Deccanis, which can boast of no commercial magnates like the Tatas, Birlas and Kasturbhais, cannot possibly control politics from the inside. The influence that such men by their patronage and capacity to finance, wield over political movements may not be obvious. It is none the less real. p. 126, , p. 112, . In some ways, regionalism is closely correlated with money power. In June 1942, Louis Fischer, the American journalist, asked Gandhi: Very highly placed Britishers had told me that Congress was in the hands of big business and that Gandhi was supported by the Bombay mill-owners who gave him as much money as he wanted. What truth is there in these assertions. Gandhi replied: Unfortunately, they are true. Fischer asked: What proportion of the Congress budget is covered by rich Indians? Gandhi replied: Practically, all of it. In this ashram, for instance we could live much more poorly than we do and spend less money. But, we do not, and the money comes from our rich friends. pp.405, , pp. 405-406, p. 122, . Industrialists also funded many social service organisations, which were under the sole control of Gandhi – the Gandhi Seva Sangh, All India Spinners Association, All India Village Industries Association, Go Seva Sangh, Talimi Sangh, Harijan Sevak Sangh p. 123, . These helped Gandhi capture the Congress machinery p. 138, . Gandhi secured the loyalty of top industrialists by incorporating their demands in Congress policies and on key Congress office bearers (which we will show), and accommodating them in his political power structure. GD Birla served as Gandhi’s unofficial emissary to the British. As, Dr Rajendra Prasad writes, He (Birla) also proved himself to be a trusted exponent of Gandhiji’s viewpoint to many Britisher’s as far as Gandhi’s political program was concerned. One can see from the book how he undertook visit after visit to England on his own and utilised the opportunities for keeping those in places of authority there well informed about the way Gandhiji’s mind was working. He never claimed to act as an appointed agent on behalf of Gandhiji and yet having studied and understood his philosophy and his programme, he took upon himself to convey its implications to those that counted. And it may be said that he succeeded in no small measure in this self-appointed role. p. vi . Jamanlal Bajaj was a permanent member of the working committee during Gandhi’s regime. He became the treasurer of Congress as well p. 292, . Gandhi also asked GD Birla to get the accounts of Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee audited (he asked GD Birla on May 8 1929, and reminded him on August 26, 1929 and September 18, 1929 ) pp. 458,  , pp, 441, , pp.102, , p. 204, .
All the above represent substantial conflicts of interests as the industrialists thereby get to know the identities of all those who are contributing to Congress as also all the expenses of Congress. Congress was engaged in a political struggle against the British and the same industrialists had trade relations with the British. Next, industrialists here were in a position to influence the industrial and labor policies of the political parties and their participation or support of labor movement with which they have a natural conflict of interest. Examining Bose-Gandhi interactions, we will show that Congress indeed forcefully represented the interests of Indian industrialists but not those of labor (and did not effectively organise the latter against the British). For example, Gandhi warned that it was dangerous to make political use of factory labourers or the peasantry.in India,he said, we want no political strikes. He said that it adds to their (laborers’) dignity when they understand that they are members an citizens of the empire. pp. 362, , p. 191, .
Next, and perhaps most important in context of freedom movement is that big business has every incentive to ally with the ruling regime (British) particularly when it was unlikely that the regime would change in near future (through elections for example). Big industrialists have always grown all over the world through cooperation of existing regimes. British India was certainly no exception. GD Birla started his independent business unit as a broker working closely with Englishmen p. XIV, . His ancestors made their fortune through opium trade between India and China facilitated by the British pp. 62-63, . Birlas earned most of their money from jute for which Britain was the biggest market. A certain loyalty and goodwill for the British is therefore expected in big industrialists. GD Birla’s sentiments are best gauged in a letter and a conversation when he was unable to influence the Congress policy to his liking. In a conversation with the British businessman, Sir Edward Benthall, he declared that for the last ten years of his life, he had been taking up an attitude of opposition, which was more often than not of a bitter nature, because it was the only way in which he could put pressure to bear on the subjects he had in mind, but that, henceforward he desired to work in collaboration and was willing to drop all hostility. In the same conversation, Sir Edward Benthall reports that Birla appeared even ready to concede non-discrimination of British interests in India.  p.81. Further, in a letter to Hoare (Secretary of State for India), Birla informed him that FICCI would offer its cooperation to the government, subject to two conditions. a) A genuine desire on the part of the government to come to an agreement on the question of financial autonomy b) Formation of a committee of experts to discuss the same. He even offered an agreement between the present Parliament and progressive Indian opinion not identified with the Congress  p. 85.
Above and beyond all the factors stated above, the predominant objective of the industrialists would be to accrue profit. Yet, prolonged and militant mass movements typically disrupt business environment and reduce profit. Thus, industrialists would have every reason to discourage the same which again presents a conflict of interest for a political party which is presumably fighting for independence. We would see that Gandhi refused to launch, or delay the launching of mass movements, and prematurely called off the ones he was forced to launch under public pressure. The stated goal of his emissary GD Birla was a rapprochement between Gandhi and British – on July 3, 1937, GD Birla wrote to C Rajagopalchari, a permanent member of the Gandhi coterie: The more I discuss Bapu with Englishmen and vice versa, the more I believe that it is a tragedy that these two big forces in the world cannot combine. I think it would be a service to the world when they do. And this conviction cheers me up. p. 193, . On March 15, 1940, GD Birla would write to Gandhi’s secretary Mahedev Desai At times I feel that we are over-emphasising the fighting part of our programme and ignoring settlement through persuasion. We have pitched our demands so high that we have made it impossible for Englishmen to come to an honourable settlement. That is where I complain. There are others even in the working committee who feel like myself. p. 240,  (the specific context which we will later provide will be even more illuminating in this regard). GD Birla would push Gandhi away from mass movements and towards the negotiation table again and again, pp. 35, 37 , with a great degree of success. Indian industry depended on British for machinery, technical knowhow and British controlled markets outside India e.g Britain, Hong Kong, China, East Africa (particularly jute industry and cotton mills which constituted important ventures of the Birlas). Many mills had substantial number of Europeans in their board of directors pp. 160-166 . Complete severance from England would be to the detriment of these industrialists (we would see that GD Birla advocated Dominion status as opposed to independence, eg, pp. 42-43  – demand for the latter constituted one of the first disputes between Gandhi and Bose). Some of the big Indian industrialists competed with English industrialists residing in India. They hoped to stop Britain from bestowing undue favours on the latter in lieu of securing political advantages for Britain. For instance, Birlas competed with Canny Scots and Dundee on jute and therefore needed British goodwill not to be ruined resulting in undue favours to Dundee. Indeed, while GD Birla praised the English at multiple instances pp. 185, 193, 229-230,  , he described large trading houses that had made fortunes through the colonial trade as also Canny Scots, who monopolised the jute trade at both ends, from Bengal fields and Hooghly mills to Dundee as powerful opponents of India pp. 230-231, . Thus, big industrialists would indeed be susceptible to British influence to the determent of Indian interests. Gandhi’s emissary GD Birla has written: Sensible Indian men and women realise their need of British help; they want British friendship. The question therefore is how to secure this, bearing in mind the Government’s position and prestige on the one hand, and the position of the self respect of the Indian people on the other p. 164, . Perhaps, owing to this need for British help and friendship, he would negotiate multiple pacts which undermined India’s national interests in general and Hindu interests in particular, eg, Communal Award pp. 52-55, 114-115, 160 , Poona pact pp. 56-58,  , Government of India Act pp. 119-122, , Congress’ acceptance of office pp. 181-182, 193 , Federation pp. 207-209 . And, Gandhi would happily oblige.
The industrialists supported Gandhi because of a diverse set of factors. Freedom movement was already in full swing by 1915, the time when he returned to India, and was fast assuming a militant character (starting from partition of Bengal in 1905). The movement that Gandhi espoused was much more conducive to business interests, than an extremist revolutionary one which was bound to appear should there be a vacuum. Thus, by funding Gandhi, Indian industrialists enhanced their political influence on him, and ensured that the dominant faction substantially relied on entreaties, negotiations, compromises and deals with the British even while conceding substantial advantages to the latter. Second, owing to cooperation over multiple generations, they knew well how they could function in tandem with the British rulers, and could ill afford a new regime that represented a complete break from the past. They would much rather prefer the continuity that Gandhi offered to the uncertainty of the nature of the regime resulting from a complete upheaval as the faction opposing him (Subhas Bose and the revolutionaries) strove for. They were also worried about the contemporary international developments that violently overthrew existing regimes and the merchantile community that supported them, eg, the Bolshevik revolution of Russia. They found Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship, whereby industrialists can retain their fortune after cosmetic social service, as opposed to socialist redistribution of wealth, enormously reassuring p. vii  . In a letter to Gandhi’s secretary, Mahadev Desai, GD Birla had advocated strict measures for suppressing peasant movements: I very much disliked the peasants in Bihar marching to the Assembly House and occupying the assembly seats and refusing to vacate them in spite of the request of the Premier. And then the Premier addressed them, and told them all sorts of sweet things without telling them that they were wrong in occupying the assembly seats and refusing to vacate them. Bapu has rightly written against the demonstration that was made against Raghavendra Rao, but I fear that in course of time indiscipline will grow more and more unless strict measures are taken. p. 191 . Worthwhile to note that the above quote shows that Gandhi had himself written against peasant demonstrations. GD Birla has written that he urged Viceroy Linlithgow to arrive at a common position with Gandhi on terrorists and get rid of terrorism’ altogether pp. 164, 174, . He had commended the Irwin-Gandhi pact for striking at the roots of the method of securing political advance by means of disorder, and substituting it by the method of mutual discussion and confidence. p. 161, . He had defended the repressive Rowlatt Act introduced to contain the revolutionaries as For the Rowlatt Act was merely the taking of emergency reserve powers `in case’. p. 235,  On June 30, 1935, he told Sir Henry Craik that if the British does not arrive at a settlement with Gandhi, a revolution of the bloody type may become an inevitable factor. And this would be the greatest calamity not only to India but to England. Tories may say this would be India’s funeral. I say it would be a funeral for both. p. 132, .
Section B.2.4 The contribution of the British in the rise of the personality cult of Gandhi – intelligence input, publicity, repression of his opponents
We now comment on the role of British in the growth of Gandhi. British wanted to rule India as long as possible, and when they had to leave they wanted to transfer power to a friendly government. Wavell had a note prepared on the effect of the proposed transfer of power in India on the Strategy, Economics and Prestige of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth, which concluded saying that To sum up, it is vital to Britain that when she gives over political power in India, she may be able to hand over to a stable and friendly Government and contract with it a genuine defensive alliance….If this objective is achieved, the demission of political power may bring in advantage and not loss. pp. 51-52, , p. 235, . GD Birla reports a conversation with ex-British premier Winston Churchill in England after India became independent (he does not specify the date but it is before Vallabhbhai Patel’s death – so the year is likely 1949) which would be illuminating: Then suddenly he (Churchill) asked me: ‘Have you got a national anthem? Is it a good tune?. I said: ‘not very good’ ‘Why don’t you play with your own national anthem ‘God save the king (the British national anthem) ? These small things help a lot. Canada has its own tune and yet side by side, they play ours too. This creates a friendly feeling. I explained to him the difficulty but added: ‘That will depend on England. If you are friends, perhaps it may come. He remarked: ‘I think it will come in course of time !’ p. 277, . (Pertinent to note that GD Birla was then touring England to solicit capital for Indian industry, he was therefore negotiating with Churchill even on national fundamentals such as choice of national anthem. This provides insight into deeply ingrained merchantile mentality which conceives every symbol and every policy as an object of negotiation. Also, he did not hesitate confiding in Churchill that he did not like the tune of our National Anthem). In any event, British clearly desired a continuity of regime if and when they had to leave. Post 1857, it was clear to them that a freedom movement was inevitable in future. It was essential that they control the same towards the above objective. They realised that India needed a political organisation for diffusing resentments through gentle protests, otherwise they would have to face yet another mass revolution like in 1857. Congress was created to function as this safety valve.
AO Hume, a British civil servant, who retired as secretary to a department in Government of India after thirty three years of service, founded Congress in 1885, after consulting Lord Dufferin, then Viceroy of India and ex-Viceroys, Lords Dalhousie and Ripon p. 45, . His biographer, Sir William Wedderburn, another retired British civilian, who presided over two sessions of Congress, describes him as the father of the Indian National Congress . Gandhi acknowledged Hume’s debt with the greatest pleasure pp. 360, , p. 103, . Quoting the father of the Indian National Congress then, Congress was devised as a safety-valve for the escape of great and growing forces, generated by our own action, and no more efficacious safety-valve than our Congress movement could possibly be devised., p. 77, . One of the three fundamental objects of the Congress, as per Hume was the consolidation of the Union between England and India. He stated that by carefully inoculating them (the great lower middle classes) with a mild and harmless form of political fever, we are adopting the only precautionary method against the otherwise inevitable ravages of a violent and epidemic burst of disorder. pp. 141-143 , p. 103, .
The character of the Congress was however fundamentally changing during 1890-1910 under the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab, Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Maharashtra and Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal. The last two acted as an effective interface between the non-violent and political struggle by Congress and attempts of a revolution led by a militant faction outside. Tilak had mentored the Chapekar brothers, while Pal was a close collaborator of Aurobindo Ghosh. The trio had galvanised large parts of India during the agitation objecting to the partition of Bengal in 1905 where Swadeshi, or boycott of all British goods (cloth, liquor etc) was employed in large scale. Note this was prior to Gandhi’s return to India, and therefore Swadeshi was not his original contribution either. Aurobindo Ghosh espoused the doctrine of passive resistance, through non-cooperation and boycott, in a series of articles, from April 11, 1907 to April 23, 1907, that is, long before Gandhi’s return to India pp. 265-304, .
The British loyalist group in Congress led by G Gokhale formed a Servants of India society whose objective was to wean away young Indians from militant nationalism, funded by industrialists close to the British like RJ Tata, Jehangir Petit, Thackersay and Lalubhai Samaldas p. 104, . Tatas were particularly close to the British. In 1900, Hamilton urged JN Tata to undertake the building of a steel plant. The Secretary of State, promised him all government support and kept his promise. Viceroy Curzon prodded JN Tata to do his job more expeditiously. Government of India acquired a large site in Sakchi in Bihar for the steel plant. The railway board had placed its orders with TISCO even before the construction of the works started. An American firm of engineers (Julian Kennedy, Sahlin and Co) constructed the firm, and Wells, an American, became its first manager. Tata hydroelectric scheme also received encouragement and support from Lord George Hamilton and Lord Sydenham, the then Governor of Bombay, who laid the foundation of the Walwhan dam. Both Tata and Lord Willingdon, another governor of Bombay, described the project as imperial. The original idea was that most of the capital for the project should be raised in London. On December 20, 1900, Hamilton wrote to Curzon: I want to associate increased investment of British capital there with a simultaneous action on the part of the Government in developing industrial enterprise. But London money market was passing through one of its periodical phases of depression. So, Tata failed to obtain capital in England. But then Maharaja of Gwalior provided the entire working capital (only the princes who were loyal to the British were allowed to rule by 1900 – the Gwalior royal family belongs in this category) pp. 171-172, . But, despite generous funding directed to G Gokhale, the British-loyalist group in Congress was not winning against the nationalist group. It is in this backdrop that British discovered Gandhi, a talented disciple of G Gokhale.
Gandhi had launched a civil disobedience movement in South Africa to protect the rights of the Indian middle class there, returned to India midway during the struggle after a minor concession was ceded, and before discriminations against Indians were ended there. British had every reason to hope that Gandhi would help Congress revert to its safety valve days by inoculating the middle classes with a mild and harmless form of political fever. Describing Gandhi prior to his return to India from South Africa, GD Birla writes: He was indeed at this period an Anglophil. He had learned to like the English in their own country and believed that their association with India would eventually lead to spreading democratic institutions in India. Hence his sympathies were never in doubt when he was in South Africa during the Boer war. p. 234, . Gandhi indeed helped organise medical corps during the Boer war on the grounds that Indians who claimed rights as citizens of the British empire were obligated to help it .
Industrialists friendly to British had been observing Gandhi’s moves closely in South Africa. On January 10, 1910, Ratan Tata, the younger son of JN Tata who had received knighthood, had written to Gandhi My warm appreciation of the noble struggle our countrymen are waging. I need hardly add that I shall watch the progress of the struggle with great interest p. 174, Vol. 1, , p. 108, . Ratan Tata, Sir Purshotmadas Thakurdas and Sir JB Petit were respectively, president, vice-president and secretary of the South African Indian Relief Fund. Other business magnates, the Aga Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad and other ruling princes were among his donors. In words of Gandhi in 1913, the river of gold flowed from India pp. 236, , and Then money began to rain from India pp. 273, , p. 157, p. 236, , p. 108, . Again, only the ruling princes who were loyal to the British were allowed to survive until the beginning of the twentieth century. It is worthwhile to note that the British never clamped down on Gandhi’s funding in South Africa, nor in India, but it did ruthlessly choke those of the revolutionaries.
The British Raj substantially helped Gandhi both directly and indirectly until he initiated a movement against them in 1942 during their life-death struggle in the Second World War. The British government directly helped Gandhi by sharing with him intelligence information. JB Kripalani, one of Gandhi’s men had informed Bose’s biographer, Leonard Gordon in an interview in New Delhi on September 10, 1976 that Gandhi knew a lot more about Bose’s connections to men of violence and to plans for potential violence than he ever let on in public p. 387, . It does not appear from the tenor of the above comment that it was Bose who had confided the above in Gandhi. So, was Gandhi keeping a tab on Bose? His source very likely was the British intelligence as would become evident from a letter by K Munshi: The Government of India knew my(Munshi’s) relations with Gandhi and Sardar and often saw to it that confidential information reached Gandhiji through me. On one such occasion, I was shown certain secret service reports that Netaji had contacted the German Consul in Calcutta and had come to some arrangement with him, which would enable Germany to rely upon him in case there was a war. I conveyed this information to Gandhiji, who naturally felt surprised. pp. 409, . Citing a book written by Munshi, p. 53, , Gandhi’s grandson has confirmed that there was a report that Bose had been in contact with the German consul in Calcutta and was negotiating some arrangement.’ The Raj’s director of Central Intelligence had given the report to Munshi, Bombay’s Law Minister, who forwarded it to the Mahatma. p. 278,  This intelligence sharing had happened during 1938 when Bose was the president of Indian National Congress. Note that Gandhi did not raise a public hue and cry on why the British were snooping on the president of Congress, but he was content receiving this information. Also, note that the first citation shows that this was not a onetime exchange – confidential information that British acquired often reached Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel through the intermediary K Munshi. It has now emerged that this tradition continued post independence during Nehru’s and subsequent regimes as Bose’s family was snooped upon and the information thus acquired was shared with British intelligence [48, 49]. Thus, British government did ensure a continuity in regimes even after independence in more ways than one.
Many would condone the sharing of the intelligence in the above specific context given that it was on Bose meeting Nazis, yet, what is not generally understood is that the atrocities perpetrated by the British on India were comparable to that by Germany during different periods. In 1932, Bertrand Russell had written that British atrocities during 1930-1931 in India were comparable to those perpetrated by Germany during the first world war p. 347, . The Nazi crimes were magnified greatly only post 1939, and neither Gandhi nor his coterie knew the same at least until mid-1940, which is at least a year before he received the above intelligence information. We establish the same citing their correspondences and speeches up to mid-1940. In March 1939 (which is after Gandhi received the above intelligence), GB Pant who was very close to Gandhi and Nehru, spoke thus at the Tripuri session of Congress: wherever nations had progressed they had done so under the leadership of one man. Germany had relied on Herr Hitler. Whether they agreed with Herr Hitler’s methods or not, there was no gainsaying the fact that Germany had progressed under Herr Hitler. Italy had risen because of Signor Mussolini and it was Lenin that raised Russia. pp. 379-380, . He subsequently reminded the delegates that we have Gandhi…Then why should we not reap the full advantage of that factor. p. 380, . Paraphrasing, GB Pant was seeing his revered leader Gandhi as the Hitler or Mussolini of India. Incidentally, after meeting Mussolini in 1931, Gandhi wrote in a letter to Romain Rolland: Mussolini is a riddle to me. Many of his reforms attract me. He seems to have done much for the peasant class. I admit an iron hand is there. But as violence is the basis of Western society, Mussolini’s reforms deserve an impartial study. His care of the poor, his opposition to super-urbanisation, his efforts to bring about coordination between capital and labor, seem to me to demand special attention … My own fundamental objection is that these reforms are compulsory. But it is the same in all democratic institutions. What strikes me is that behind Mussolini’s implacability is a desire to serve his people. Even behind his emphatic speeches there is a nucleus of sincerity and of passionate love for his people. It seems to me that the majority of the Italian people love the iron government of Mussolini. p. 297, . On May 16, 1940, Gandhi’s secretary Mahadev Desai wrote to GD Birla that Hitler’s stock with Bapu is going up . p. 255, . On June 6, 1940, Mahadev Desai wrote to GD Birla that In his letter (to Viceroy Linlithgow) Bapu had written: ‘This manslaughter must be stopped. You are losing; if you persist it will only result in greater bloodshed. Hitler is not a bad man. If you call it off today, he will follow suit. If you want to send me to Germany or anywhere else, I am at your disposal. You can also inform the cabinet about this’. p. 255, . We see the same propensity in Gandhi to assume the leadership of the world before ensuring prosperity of his nation, that almost every premier in free India has shown. But, that aside, this establishes our core contention. Next, considering a post facto analysis, the British perpetrated atrocities comparable to the Holocaust in India during the second world war. They killed approximately 3.5 million in the Bengal province alone during the Bengal famine of 1943 that they induced p. 504, , .
On the indirect front, the British enhanced Gandhi’s stature among the general public by giving him a hero’s welcome on his return to India from South Africa. As arranged by them, he was allowed to land at the Apollo Bunder in Bombay – an honor accorded to Royalty, by the Viceroys and India’s most distinguished sons p. 246, Vol. 1, , p. 126, . Viceroy Lord Hardinge conferred on him the Kaiser-i-Hind gold medal for his services in Africa p. 46, , p. 126, . On his arrival in India, he was welcomed by the prominent industrialists close to the British – Sir Dorab Tata, Sir JB Petit, Sir Vithaldas Thackersay, Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas, Sir Ibrahim Rahimtoola, Sir Jamshetji Jeejibhoy and others , p. 108,  – British would typically not knight anyone who was not a loyalist (even Nobel laureate Rabindranath Thakur’s family had a long history of loyalty and proximity to the British crown) . On June 3, 1940, Viceroy Linlithgow informed Gandhi that the Maharaja of Darbhanga, had given him a bust of Gandhi done by Clare Sheridan which he proposed in the first instance to have it exhibited in Bombay and thereafter to make it over to the Government of India with the suggestion that it should ultimately find a permanent home in the national capital . p. 302, , p. 128, .
Indian and British press significantly publicised Gandhi’s movements, except possibly the one in 1942. RP Dutt has written that With the newsreel cameras of the world clicking away Gandhi’s Dandi march received worldwide publicity, through the press, the cinema and very other device. Not only was the march not interfered with by the Raj but also the wide publicity of every detail was possible only with its active encouragement pp. 301-302, , p. 127, . S Bose seconds the same point of view regarding the coverage of the salt march: Fortunately for the Mahatma, he had a wonderfully good press within India and outside. In India for days and days, every detail connected with the march found the widest publicity p. 201, . The discerning reader may observe curious similarities with sudden press interest accorded to Anna Hazare’s fast in Jantar Mantar. In the pre-independence context, S Bose had observed (not specific to Gandhi though) that British press colluded with its government in parachuting leaders who would further their interests As a matter of fact, whenever the occasion demands, leaders are created overnight by the British Government and, thanks to the British Press their names are made known to the whole world p. 34, . So, the mass support was in part manufactured or at the least facilitated by interests inimical to India.
The British kid gloved Gandhi and his supporters throughout, and simultaneously ruthlessly persecuted and even physically eliminated the factions that opposed him. Gandhi and his faction (Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel) were usually incarcerated under comfortable conditions. During civil disobedience of 1930, the government lodged Gandhi in a jail where Every provision will be made for his health and comfort during his detention (cited in p. 304, , p. 128, ). During Quit India movement he was imprisoned in the Aga Khan palace. British arranged a special train in 1946 for his travel to Madras, with a saloon which had a platform and a loudspeaker using which he could address the people, p. 67, Vol. VII, . But, revolutionaries were frequently executed or imprisoned in harshest of the British jails, eg Cellular in Andaman (Barin Ghosh, Sachindranath Sanyal, Veer Savarkar ) where they often lost sanity (Ullas Kar) or committed suicide as a result of the persecutions. In a surprise attack, during October 1931, warders open fired on detenus in Hijli in Bengal and assaulted them with the butt end of their rifles, killing two, and seriously injuring 20 p. 260, . Political leaders who opposed Gandhi were often imprisoned at times, without trial, in facilities which would be inhuman enough to permanently damage their health. Both Bose and Tilak were incarcerated at Mandalay jail – they were both incapacitated as a result. In fact, Bose had to recuperate for extended durations after two prison terms. British police lathi charged Bose both inside and outside jail p. 205, , p. 240, . KP Chattopadhyay, education officer of the Calcutta Corporation in which Bose was the Mayor in 1931 has written about one such occasion on which Bose was leading a procession from the Corporation to the nearby Maidan (on January 26, 1931): As we crossed Chowringhee, a body of mounted policemen charged into us scattering the people in our rear and isolating the Mayor and a few of us from the main body of the processionists. The mounted men then rode at us, especially the Mayor, hitting us with the short lathis in their hand. The Mayor was attacked on both sides, and I noted him protecting his head with his up-raised right arm, as best as he could. I shouted out to his assailants: ‘You have no right to beat Subhas Chandra Bose. You can arrest him, but you have no right to beat him.’ I then tried to protect the Mayor’s head by holding the pole of the banner in my hand over him…On this one of these men rode at me and struck twice at my unprotected head……None of the men who were beating the Mayor and myself were Indians. Note that the baton attack was a targeted one, directed at Bose, and specifically his head. Bose was arrested and taken to Lal Bazar and kept incommunicado until the next day, without any food or medical treatment. Bruised and with his arm in a sling, he was produced before a magistrate the following afternoon. p. 240,  Lala Lajpat Rai died from injuries he incurred during one such lathi charge. During a strange illness in February-March, 1939 that debilitated him at a crucial juncture of his political career, Bose seriously considered a suggestion that he was being poisoned. He considered the suggestion important enough to document it: A few days after I fell ill, I began to receive letters or telegrams from different places suggesting the nature of my malady. Among them were some telegrams suggesting that I had been poisoned. My doctors were amused at first. Then they gave thought to the matter and could not find any clinical data to support this theory. So they put it aside. p. 104, . Medical diagnostic techniques in India in 1939 were not advanced enough to detect sophisticated or rare poisons. Any event the pathology of his illness which lasted for a month could not be determined either. Gandhi has never been subjected to physical violence by the British, his coterie only minimally (Nehru has recalled one incident where he received two resounding blows (from a mounted policeman) on the back p. 135,  -it is unclear if he needed any medical attention subsequently). We would later see that the Gandhi-Irwin pact would distinguish between the non-violent and the rest of the political prisoners – an amnesty would only be extended only to the non-violent political prisoners, most of whom were Gandhians, enabling the Gandhi-Irwin pact to be easily ratified as most of the opponents were jailed.
Next, as we already mentioned, Gandhi’s funding was never choked, but those of the revolutionaries’ were. Since by Gandhi’s own admission, most of his funding came from wealthy industrialists, it would have been relatively easy to attrition this funding by putting under searchlight the financial irregularities of the sponsors. British government introduced several repressive acts for specifically controlling the revolutionaries, eg, the Defence of India Act during war time which empowered the Government to do anything with regard to any person and his property merely on suspicion that such a person may act in a way which might undermine public safety p. 188, , the Rowlatt Act which gave the government emergency powers during peace time – the right to arrest, search and imprison any person without trial or trial in special courts as necessary p. 188, . So they could surely have brought in acts that mandated penalty to any organisation (eg, Congress) that demanded secession from the British empire which would drastically reduce his funding – but they did not. This is explicable given that 1) many high ranking British officials including Viceroys Chelmsford, Linlithgow and Puckle (Director general of Intelligence in 1940) regarded Gandhi as an asset p. 94, Vol. 3, p. 138, Vol. 4,  and an ally p. 179, , and 2) Ellen Wilkinson, who was a member of the British Parliament for several years and became a member of the British cabinet from 1945-1947, remarked after her visit to India in 1932 as a member of the India League Deputation that Gandhi was the best policeman the British had in India p. 219, .
British definitely invested well in Gandhi as he helped to nip in the bud genuine freedom movements that were emerging in his regime, and subverted the ones he had to announce under tremendous public pressure. He remained loyal to the British throughout his life, except for a brief period around 1942, when given how the Axis powers were advancing at lightning speed, he assumed that British would lose the second world war. This judgment in error led to his marginalisation, while power was indeed transferred to a PM who remained loyal to the British throughout the second world war (multiple accounts including those of M Azad narrate that Nehru resisted the announcement of the Quit India movement as long as he could; the marginalisation is indicated in Gandhi’s quote from pp. 394,  cited towards the end of the first paragraph of this section). That British indeed transferred power to a friendly regime would be evident from the following. Mountbatten wanted the Congress and League leaders to have the Union Jack on the upper canton of their flags. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel were amenable. Gandhi sharply criticised those who opposed. He said: I have been asked some questions. Here is one: ‘One understands that the national flag that has been proposed will have a little Union Jack in a corner. It that is so, we shall tear up such a flag and, if need be, sacrifice our lives.. His answer was But what is wrong with having the Union Jack in a corner of our flag? If harm has been done to us by the British it has not been done by their flag and we must also take note of the virtues of the British. They are voluntarily withdrawing from India, leaving power in our hands. A drastic bill which virtually liquidates the Empire did not take even a week to pass in Parliament. Time was when even very unimportant bills took a year and more to be passed. Whether they have been honest in framing the bill only experience will show. We are having Lord Mountbatten as our chief gate-keeper. So long he has been the servant of the British king. Now he is to be our servant. If while we employed him as our servant we also had the Union Jack in a corner of our flag, there would be no betrayal of India in this. This is my opinion. But I understand that the report is not true. It pains me that the Congress leaders could not show this generosity. We would have thereby shown our friendship for the British. If I had the power that I once had I would have taken the people to task for it. After all, why should we give up our humanity. pp. 86-87, . The plan did not materialise owing to the general feeling among Congress extremists…..that Indian leaders were pandering far too much to the British. Both Nehru and Jinnah wanted to fly the Union Jack twelve days a year, but did not want their intention to be publicised. This desire was aborted fearing adverse public reaction as well pp. 164, 230-231, 596  pp. 383-384, .
Money power, divisive politics, foreign influence and the personality cult of Gandhi will play a substantial role in the Gandhi-Bose interactions, which we will examine in subsequent pieces.
 – R. C. Majumdar, “History & Culture of the Indian People”, Vol. 11
 – http://www.gandhi-manibhavan.org/aboutgandhi/chrono_detailed_gandhiinbombay.htm
 Margaret Halbeck and Gita Piramal, India’s industralists, Vol. 1, https://books.google.ca/books?id=xcbBEHHI-90C&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=birla+opium+trade&source=bl&ots=0gHtj2eKzv&sig=sKooj9c_Gh676HG1V5TbV2cfIV4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=SFtkVd7lHNesyASN-4GYAw&ved=0CDcQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=birla%20opium%20trade&f=false
 – S. C. Bose, The Indian Struggle (1920-1942)
 – P. N. Chopra and Prabha Chopra, “Collected Works of Sardar Patel”, Vol. 8, pp. 24
 – Ravindra Kumar, “Selected Works of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: 1936-1946′, Vol. 3, pp.162, 166
 – ibid, Gandhi’s Statement to the Press, Shimla, 05/09/1939, http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL038.PDF
 Bande Mataram 1, 2, http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/ashram/sriauro/writings.php
 – http://m.rediff.com/news/mar/25sardar.htm
 – M.K. Gandhi, “I Rejoice in this Defeat”, Harijan, 02/02/1939.
 – Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Independence, Article in Young India, 13/01/1927 http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL038.PDF
 Subhas Bose, An Address to Students of India, Presidential Address at the All India Students’ Conference, Delhi, in January, 1940, Included in Crossroads, being the works of Subhas Chandra Bose, 1938-1940, Compiled by Netaji Research Bureau, Asia Publishing House, 1962, pp. 241-247
 Hugh Toye Subhas Chandra Bose – The Springing Tiger, Jaico Publishing House, 2013
 – http://m.rediff.com/news/mar/25sardar.htm
 J. Nehru, Toward Freedom – The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru, The John Day Company, New York
 – Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Speech at the Federal Structure Committee, London, 15/09/1931, http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL053.PDF
 – ibid, Gandhi’s letter to Lord Linlithgow, 04/04/1938, http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL073.PDF
 Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, History of the Freedom Movement, Volume III
 – “Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi”, Statement to the Press, Simla, 05/09/1939. http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL076.PDF p. 312