Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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One Year of Shastri Government

-Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya
[Organiser, 7 June, 1965]

Pandit Jawahar Lal’s first death anniversary has induced many people to write on the events of the last one year under the caption ‘A Year without Nehru’. It denotes a negative way of looking at things. I would choose a positive caption ‘A Year of Shastri’s rule’. Whether the year bears Shastri’s impress or not can be a debatable issue, but to continue to think of India in terms of Nehru era has ended. The sooner we get rid to the hang-over, the better it is let us living in the present, for the future.

The Emergence Of Subedars

Lal Bahadur Shastri’s assumption of office is an achievement of which the nation can be proud. There were people within and outside the country who had predicted a doomsday for India soon after Pandit Nehru’s death. They felt that the war of succession would disintegrate the country, when the change-over was smooth, these prophets of doom and despair must have felt doomed and despaired. I do not want to analyse the cause for the smooth changeover. But credit must be given to Shri Morarji Desai for his act of self-negation in not insisting on a show down. Might be it was a case of discretion being the better part of valour. But there are occasions when even discretion is a great virtue.

However, the way Shastri was chosen has sown the seeds of future discord. The consensus method was adopted; Shri Kamraj consulted not only the members of the congress parliamentary party but also the Chief Minister. It seems that the latter had a decisive say. The became conscious of their power. And that has made the Prime Minister and his Government dependent on the Chief Ministers. In the cause of the year, event after even proves that power has shifted from New Delhi to the state capitals. Whatever the constitution might provide and the declaration of Emergency empower, the Centre today cannot afford to displease any of the States!

How Shastri Go Stuck

Shri Shastri began well. He is a common man raised to high office. His utterances showed that he could look at things from the common man¹s angle. The common man was inspired with a new hope. It was to be firm also. The way in which the Centre acted on the Dass Commission report and dethroned Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon, won them general encomiums. In Orissa too they intended to be firm. But all this was short lived. Perhaps the climate within the party became too hot for them. The result is that the promise of eradication of corruption has become an empty slogan. Except for the establishment of the Sadachar Samiti and the Vigilance Commission, nothing concrete has been done to implement the promise.

It seemed in the beginning that Shri Shastri would not toe the Nehru line. But communists and fellow travellers succeeded in brow-beating him. Soon after his assumption of office his Government had to face a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. The communists who were reluctant to back such a move against the Nehru Government, this time took the lead. In fact there was not case for such a resolution. The Shastri Government could hardly be held responsible for the failings of the Nehru regime. They had not been given time to mend matters. But the communists had their ulterior motive. The burden of their song was that Shastri was deviating from the Nehru line. Shastri Ji lacked the courage of Khrushchev or Kosygin to admit and advocate the need for a reorientation of the policies that had failed. On the contrary Shri Shastri succumbed to their blackmail. He pleaded his loyalty and has been since then trying to out Nehru himself.

No Master of Situation

The Shastri Government has been called upon to take crucial decisions on a number of issues. They have not been different from what Nehru would have taken. When China exploded a nuclear bomb the whole country demanded that India manufacture an atom bomb. But Shastri Ji faltered and took a stand which was characteristic of Nehru the visionary “living in an imaginary would of our own creation.”

On the economic front and in the matter of planning, Shastri has failed to make any impact on the planning Commission or on policy matters. He does not like food zones but cannot abolish them. He feels that the plans should be modest, but cannot prune the size of the fourth plane. Shastri as Prime Minister and Shastri as Chairman of the planning Commission seem to have dual personality. Failure of the Government’s food policy can, to a great extent, be ascribed to this fact.

When Shastri assumed office he mentioned prices and corruption as the two main problems of the country. The Government has failed to check both. Their thinking and practice are not different front that of Pandit Nehru.

It’s Government By Compromise

Kashmir and Nagaland were handled by Shastri Ji even before becoming Prime Minister. Though there has not been any basic change in policy yet the pace has been slowed down. When Pandit Nehru was alive Shastri could have his way in his name. Now in this respect the whole responsibility shall have to be borne by him alone. There being sharp differences in the Cabinet over these issues, Shri Shastri has had to give a different treatment to Sheikh Abdullah. But the consideration shown and the long rope given to him are due to his personal predilections. If the Jaya Prakash plan could not be furthered it was simply because Shastri was not confident the Nehru possessed.

The language problem is entirely of Pandit Nehru’s creation. But there probably would have been no agitations and violent riots if Pandit Nehru were alive. Shastri Government has taken a step backward. Under Nehru that would not have happened. The way in which Shastri Ji dealt with the situation only shown that he can sacrifice Hindi to maintain his position of which he hardly feels confident.

In dealing with Pakistan, Shastri Ji has merely imitated Pandit Nehru. In the whole affair there is mush in common.

It Is Nehruism Without A Nehru

So far as foreign affairs are concerned, India was at very low ebb even during the last days of Pandit Nehru. Inspite of the fact that the External Affairs Ministry has been put in-charge of a separate Minister, little has been done to improve matters. Sardar Swaran Singh has not been able to bargain from any position of strength. Our agreements concluded this year have hardly any plus factor. Relations with no country have improved.

When the Government arrested the left communists, they appeared to be firm. But political overtones could not be ruled out. The whole action has been half-hearted clumsy and without grace.

I need not enumerate here all the acts of omission and commission of the Government. But it is evident that drift and indecision is writ large. If decisions are taken it is only because it becomes physically impossible to defeat them. And where the Government appears to be decisive, it simply means sticking to the old policy for want of a decision to change it.

The year has been an eventful one. The long history or the Nehru regime has repeated itself in the span of a year. The resultant forces of Pandit Nehru’s policies and practices asserted during the year. And all that can be said is that the Government’s reaction has not been very different. The Shastri Government is a Government with the Nehru. Shastri Ji is trying to make enemies but he cannot avoid opponents. He can be likeable but not effective. And in a country which had for centuries been victim of foreign aggressions, and where subedars had a tradition of usurping and assuming independence weakness at the Centre might prove disastrous. If the Aegean stable is to be cleared we need a Hercules. Will Shastri prove equal to the task? If he strives, he might not be liked by his party men, but he will get the support of his countrymen. If is time he chooses his friends and supporters.
Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
Content copyright © Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation
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