Motilal pushed for son Jawahar as Congress chief in letter to Bapu

Motilal pushed for son Jawahar as Congress chief in letter to Bapu

 

Motilal pushed for son Jawahar as Congress chief in letter to Bapu
Today India is celebrating 125th birth anniversary of its first PM Jawaharlal Nehru. (Photo: Getty Images)
AHMEDABAD: Eighty-six years ago, in July 1928, the Congress party was wrestling over who should lead the party: whether its reins should be handed over to young, energetic leaders, or the old guards should be allowed to retain control. One of Congress stalwarts at that time, Motilal Nehru, wrote a rare letter to Mahatma Gandhi saying although Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the best choice for the post of Congress president, the party should now be handed over to young leaders of “Jawahar’s type”.

In December the same year, the Congress had elected Motilal as its president during the Calcutta session. Jawaharlal was elected the following year in 1929 as the party president at the Lahore Congress.

The issue gained momentum on June 19, 1928, when the Mahatma wrote a letter to Motilal from Sabarmati Ashram, “Sen Gupta writes to me saying that I should move the Gujarat Provincial Congress Committee to vote for you (Motilal) as the president of the coming Congress.”

Gandhi further wrote: “Perhaps it is not yet time for Jawahar to occupy the throne. And if the Committee that you are managing brings up something substantial it would be as well for you to wear the crown. Sen Gupta suggests Malviyaji as an alternative.”

In reply to this letter, Motilal wrote to Gandhi on July 11, 1928, “I am clear that the hero of the hour is Vallabhbhai and the least we can do to appreciate his public services is to offer him the crown. Failing him I think that under all the circumstances Jawahar would be the next best choice.”

Further down, Motilal writes, “Our race is fast dying out and the struggle will sooner or later have to be continued by men of Jawahar’s type. The sooner they begin the better.”


(Jawaharlal Nehru with Mahatma Gandhi. Getty Images)

Historian Rizwan Kadri, who acquired this letter from Motilal Nehru’s papers at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, said, “Motilalji believed that the party should be led by young turks. He writes in this letter how it was time that the more energetic and determined workers should have their own way of guiding the political activities of the country. He further states how there was no reason why people like him and Gandhiji and other senior leaders should continue to force their views on the young of the party.”


Jawaharlal Nehru as a child with his father Motilal Nehru and mother Swarup Rani Nehru. (Photo by Getty Images)

 

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