Nayantara Sahgal questions Sonia-Rahul leadership of the Congress!

NayantaraShe calls into question how the Congress future can be save not by the new dynasty but by the old Nehruvian values of promoting democracy within the organisation.

Nayantara Sahgal, nience of Henru and cousin of Indira Gandhi has asked some hard questions about the Sonia-Rahul duo’s competency. Sonia’s inaction and incompetence after being head of the party for 16 long years.

Sonia seems to enact a drama to stay at the helm and enjoy the perks and privileges of power. She doesn’t see the writing on the wall. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is appropriating the legacies of Nehru and Indira by asking his partymen to celebrate their birth days.

Also, Sonia seems bent on promoting her son. Rahul called for new elections. How can new elections be fair and free with both the mother and the son sitting at the top positions? The entire AICC staff and the office bearers also continuing in their jobs for more than 20, 30 years, some of them?

The same factions within the state parties, reports say have already started manipulating the enrolment of fake members!

So, there is no way except Sonia -Rahul stepping down from their positions and electing an interim-president and conducting really independent elections within the party. Nayantara Sahgal’s biography raises some of these current troubles within the party too.

Nayantara Sahgal’s biography
Pandit Nehru’s literary heir?
Much more, the lady also inherited Nehru’s intellectual legacy too!

This is a very deeply moving and in a way stimulating biography of one who was Nehru’s niece and Indira Gandhi’s cousin. Daughter of Vijayalakshi Pandit and of course granddaughter of Pandit Motilal Nehru, the original powerhouse that made the Nehru legacy endearing for the Indian people.

Pandit Motilal Nehru was the most ambitious lawyer of his generation, one who along with such other greats like Chittaranjan Das and Boninchandra Pal stood shoulder to shoulder along with mahatma Gandhi and made the Indian National Congress the truly freedom machine, so to say.

Motilal Nehru, besides being the most successful lawyer of these times, he also built a legacy for the family and for the country. Yes, he was born not rich but he made it in one generation.

The rest, as they say, is history. The Nehru brood was a large one. The Motilal brother’s sons and daughters, the BK and R.K.Nehrus, of course Vijayalakshmi Pandit, who was widowed early, she married a Maharashtrian Brahmin, Sitaram Pandit and also Pandit Nehru’s daughter, Indira married a Parsi and all these are known.

As far as Nayantara is concerned she studied in the USA and also her sisters, then her own life after marriage with one Sahgala Punjabi met with a turn, she divorced and remarried in 1979, when the Janata government was in power she was appointed by Morarji Desai as ambassador to Italy! Alas! Indira nursed a grievance and she cancelled the appointment.

Nayantara broke away from the Nehru dynasty, but she never wavered from her dear “Mamu”. Ironically today when the Sonia-Rahul Gandhi dynastic ambitions are concerned, Nayantara, now 86, is firmly turned against the dynastic succession in the Indian National Congress.

The book was discussed by a panel of literary persons in Bangalore not long ago and thus the book gained more attention for its literary aspects, Nayantara wrote nine novels and the last was titled lesser Breeds, a reference to her perception of how the rise of the Western powers, in particular the USA as the world power in which the “lesser breeds of new countries, among which Indian is seen as such. Her earlier novels, some of which were placed in the context of India’s freedom struggle and directly the involvement of the Nehru family, Nehru being the central character under various disguises.

Besides novels she wrote other books, history, and poltiics and won many honours in her long writing career.

Her first novel, A time to be Happy, (1958), This Time of Morning (1965), A Storm in Chandigarh (1969 and other novels made her very widely known and read author in India and abroad.

Her Autobiography too is written in the form of novels only. They were published again in UK by Victor Gollanz.

Prison and Chocolate Cake, was a novel of  an autobiography plus the story, this was her forte, if we can say so, you read her writings not as a novelist but as a chronicler of her own childhood, growing up with many of her close ones being in and out of jails.

This aspect of her literary cum politico narrations only made her a much sought after write.
In fact, what I am interested in her writings and reflections as given in the book is her role as a thinker and intellectual in the entire Nehru family. She stands out as an authentic voice.

Though she tries to blend the Gandhinan “soul force”(ahimsa) to the Nehruvian modernism, it doesn’t blend so easily, in my view. In fact, the way Nehru came to lead the country after Gandhi has to be told in a straightforward way. When Nehru was in power he saw a different world.

It was Communism vs. the West, the Western imperialism, or the last embers of the old style exercise of power.  Stalin and Mao vs. the US raw power exercise was what Nehru confronted.

When Indira came about it was a different world. Cold war at its height. Now, in the aftermath of the 2014 massive setback for the Congress Nayantara has been taking a consistent stand against dynasty becoming the central point in all discussions.

Is there a political greed in the Nehruvian trait? We don’t know. We are not sure?

But the persistence of the Sonia Gandhi line in not speaking out her mind nor her intention to make for others to set the party in order is puzzling. The present thinking in the Congress party is really not genuine. The same old faces, the same old language, organisational elections whenever they were attempted were sabotaged by manipulation by those who are closely aligned to the family.

There are people for some 30 or even 40 years as MPs and others at the AICC helms. The AICC is not also a contented body now. They, the office bearers are seething with fury and frustration.

The president and the vice -resident are both mother and son only!

A strange way to run a 128 year old party machine. Democratising the organisation under the present setup is impossible. May be some other fundamental shift of forces could trigger a new formation.

After Sonia had become the president the CWC never for once had an elected CWC! Since 1988 Sonia only nominated the CWC members and state presidents! She now also wants to see her son do the same!
This is where we have to see the observations of Nayantara when she says that Congress should have no truck with the dynasty to remain relevant, as she said in Bangalore.

But apart from the political importance of the book it is otherwise a very sensitively written one, with lots of nuances of her mind and her well-chosen insights into the minds of her close ones.

Yes, this book is otherwise a bitter story. In conclusion one thought lingers. How can such a sophisticated person think of breaking of her relationships that led to so much trauma and tragedy that life inevitably, why inherently, is capable of unfolding in almost all the lives. Big and small, famous or ordinary?

Anyway, the thought is there, it just not lingers, it envelopes one’s own sensitivities! And leaves one on a rather sad and unhappy note.

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