‘Politics is about people and people are about relationships’

Politics is about people and people are about relationships, whether at a private or public level. The two Indian leaders to whom I feel closest are undoubtedly Gandhi and Nehru because many of the challenges they faced along the path to independence are the ones we have been facing over the course of our struggle which will mark its quarter century next year. The survival of their relationship, which was both personal and political, in spite of their many differences is one of the triumphs of Indian politics. When Gandhi decided to withdraw the Civil Disobedience movement, Nehru was deeply distressed. He railed: "Why should we be tossed hither and thither for, what seemed to me, metaphysical and mystical reasons in which I was not interested? Was it conceivable to have any political movement on this basis?" The doubts that arose in his mind over Gandhi's methods caused Nehru intense agony...

The lesson Nehru learnt is one we have to learn and relearn, again and again, along the long and difficult journey to goals that can only be won through hard work and perseverance... During one of my periods of isolation, I jotted down on a piece of paper that if I could be sure of one, just one, totally trustworthy, totally reliable, totally understanding, totally committed friend and colleague, who would keep faith with me and with the cause in which we believed throughout the vicissitudes of this existence, I could challenge the combined forces of heaven and earth. In isolation, one tends towards melodrama.

When I heard on the radio, suddenly and unexpectedly one day, that the Central Executive Committee had expelled me from the party for the simple reason that I happened to be under detention, I felt myself to be in a curious no-man's land, far away from everything except my own volition. I realised that pressure must have been exerted on the party and that it must be going through a very difficult period. Finally I decided that it was for me to keep faith with my party as long as it kept faith with our cause, regardless of their official position with regard to me. I thought of Nehru's ability to keep true to Gandhi in spite of serious differences between them and it strengthened my conviction that we had to cleave to comrades and colleagues despite dissension and disagreement.

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