The Nehru Papers: When an MP wrote to Nehru to 'stop bholi-bhali Indu's election as Cong chief'

NehruPandit Jawahar Lal Nehru with Mahavir Tyagi. (Nehru Memorial Museum and Library)

Papers of Jawaharlal Nehru from 1959, a very critical juncture in India's evolution, have just been released as serial volumes of his 'Selected Works', edited by historian Prof Madhavan Palat, under the auspices of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Three volumes were released in July, with more planned almost every month.

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They comprise notes, letters, accounts of conversations and even of open press conferences, revealing more than just Nehru's oeuvre. Mirroring a big debate of the times is an exchange of letters between an important Congress MP and Nehru on the latter's position on his daughter getting elected Congress president.

Dehradun MP Mahavir Tyagi writes to prime minister Nehru just before Indira Gandhi's election and just after the Nagpur congress when her name was first proposed. He urges Nehru, in eloquent Hindi, to be wary of "charan chumbaks" or courtiers. "Just as in the days of the Mughals, ministers would play with the Nawab's children, today you are being worshipped, your worshippers have put up bholi-bhali Indu's name for the post of the Congress president. And perhaps you have accepted it without blinking an eye." Quoting "critical Congressmen" he has met, he adds, "Please don't be under the misapprehension that this lining up of supporters for the proposal to put up Indu's name is entirely due to the force of her personality. It is being done hundred per cent to please you."

Tyagi writes that with most eminent Congressmen elected MLAs and MPs, only "four-anna ordinary members are left in the Congress cadres... how is poor Indu going to hold up this weakened frame?" He expresses fears that with the Congress having decided to adopt socialist ideas in the Nagpur congress, it would have to take on many vested interests and face challenges Indira would not be able to take on.

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