Who had opposed Indira Gandhi's appointment as Congress president?
New Delhi: While majority of Congress leaders were favouring Indira Gandhi's appointment as Congress president at one of the crucial junctures of the party, a Dehradun MP had politely tried to discourage the then Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru from taking such a major decision.
Mahavir Tyagi, Congress MP from Dehradun, had written to Nehru just before Indira Gandhi's election as the Congress chief 1959 and just after the Nagpur congress when her name was first proposed, reports The Indian Express.
In the letter written in Hindi, Tyagi had urged Nehru 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," the report quotes the letter as saying.
"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 had added in the letter.
Tyagi wrote 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?"
According to the media report, he expressed 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.
"You should stop the election of Indu as president of the Congress. Or you should give up the post of PM and through Indu strengthen the Congress organisation," he suggests.
The report said Nehru replied almost immediately. "It is obvious that it would be difficult to express any sensible opinion about myself. Nobody can be objective about oneself.... It is possible I get taken in by people and they often don't speak to me openly. But it may not be right for you to say that I am surrounded by courtiers. I have never had a court and nor do I like such ways," Nehru reportedly wrote.
Nehru describes how he first heard of Indira's name being proposed for the presidency "on the last day of the Nagpur congress.... It was put to me that evening, not to me personally, but it was said in a committee, where leaders from various states were present. I kept quiet initially and listened to others. Then, I expressed my views and outlined all the aspects. I even said that this will be neither good for Indu nor fair to me for her name to be proposed," Nehru says in the letter.
Nehru discloses how he saw "some advantages in her being elected, especially after the decision taken at the Nagpur congress when a breath of fresh air is needed. I did not feel that I should interfere.... I knew that would upset Indira". He sees benefits to her being elected with the "dangers being obvious too".
On Tyagi's suggestion that Nehru's leaving would allow the Congress parliamentary party to discuss things freely, he writes, "What can I say about that? I want them to speak openly and I want to express my views. I want everyone to speak freely about the issues before us at the moment. I have often tried to elicit the opinions of our comrades and members. Do I not have the right to express my views openly too?"
The day after this letter, on February 2, 1959, Indira was declared elected, after S Nijlingappa withdrew from the race and Kumbha Ram Arya's nomination was found invalid.
A Congress leader had urged the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to be wary of \"charan chumbaks\" or courtiers.