Nehru and Gandhiji

Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were both stalwarts in Indian national struggle for independence. Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru's father, was an eminent personality in the Indian National Congress and that fascinated young Jawaharlal Nehru to join politics too.
He was greatly influenced by his father's charismatic personality and his elegance and style. Motilal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi knew each other very well and it became easier for Jawaharlal Nehru to be closely acquainted to 'Bapu'-as the nation called him. Mahatma Gandhi first met Jawaharlal Nehru at the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress in the year 1916 at Lucknow. The first meeting was enough to impress Nehru regarding Gandhi and the charm of this relationship increased and flourished with passing time.

In Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru had found the absolute leader who was capable of handling the entire nation. This quality he found missing in almost all the Indian political leaders of the time that included his father, Motilal Nehru. Even Motilal Nehru was highly impressed and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's inner strength and self-confidence. The greatest quality that went in favor of Mahatma Gandhi was his image. General masses could identify themselves through Gandhiji. In the initial stages of his political career, Jawaharlal Nehru found everything regarding Gandhiji amazing and great. Gandhiji's plan of action in any field attracted Nehru to a great deal. The Satyagraha movement against the Rowlatt Act fascinated Jawaharlal Nehru greatly and he was keen to join the movement with great deal of enthusiasm. But he was dissuaded by his father to join the movement then and there and asked him to follow the proceedings of the mass-movement. With satyagrahas becoming the common form of revolt against the various forms of British atrocities, Mahatma Gandhi gained an important place in the Indian freedom struggle. There was also immense mass following that helped Gandhiji to attain that grand stature.

The heinous crime that the British committed in Jalianwala Bagh evoked Jawaharlal Nehru into action. He could no longer restrain himself from joining active politics and participate in the Indian independence struggle. Gandhiji also advocated the terms 'ahimsa', meaning non-violence and 'Swaraj', meaning self-rule. These were mainly aimed at improving and changing the economic scenario in the country. Jawaharlal Nehru joined the campaign with full fervor and enthusiasm. The Congress party was totally reformed and remodeled to reach to the people at the grass root level. This called for involvement of the masses in all the action that was planned for attaining freedom from the shackles of the British rule. Nehru completely supported the idea as he knew that without this support, attaining independence would be a next to impossible job.

In the year 1921, Jawaharlal Nehru was first arrested and sent to prison. After this, he was sent to the prison several times and passed nine years of his life in prison for the freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi in the mean time became the supremo of the Indian National Congress. The civil-disobedience movement was also called off by Gandhiji. There was also some political strife that was going on in the Indian National Congress at this time. In 1923, Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed the General Secretary of the Congress just for a period of two years. He again gained back the position in 1927 for two years. Along with this, he was deeply involved in the freedom struggle movement and under Gandhiji's leadership and care he was blooming as an efficient leader.

In 1929, under the patronage of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal was made the President of the Indian National Congress. This was declared at the annual Congress Session at Lahore. After that Jawaharlal Nehru was made the President of the Indian National Congress six more times. He enjoyed the position and the glory that is attached to the post. But he was frequently arrested and put behind bars during the various movements that were launched to remove the British from India. Even during the Civil Disobedience Movement that was initiated by Mahatma Gandhi against the salt laws that were imposed by the British, Nehru was arrested.

Gandhiji even went to London to attend the Round Table Conference to figure out a peaceful way to attain freedom for the nation. But after coming back from there, he found the situation even worse. In 1932, both Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru were arrested. Once, Motilal Nehru was also arrested and all three of them were behind bars. In 1942, with the beginning of the Quit India Movement, Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested and remained in prison for almost three years, one of the longest periods he had spent in jail. He was finally released in 1945.

In 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru with the influence of Gandhiji was summoned by the British with an idea of forming an interim government. This was done to organize the governmental structure during the transitional pre-independence period. Gandhiji was also against the partition that took place with the independence of the country. He tried his level best to avoid it and even advised the Congressmen to reject the proposals that were put forward by the Cabinet Mission. But the Congress leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru tried to pacify Gandhiji by explaining that partition was the only way by, which a civil war between the Hindus and Muslims could be avoided. But inspite of this Gandhiji vehemently opposed this approach to freedom. Unfortunately, under great pressure from various sectors of the Congress Party and also from all parts of India, Gandhiji had to give his assent. But from his heart Gandhiji could not accept this and that troubled him till the last day of his life.

After Gandhiji's retirement from active politics, Jawaharlal Nehru became the leader of the Indian National Congress and took charge of the proceedings of the party completely. However, with passage of time and with Nehru's experience in the political field, there were certain difference of opinions and ideologies that cropped up between the two great Indian leaders. There were grave ideological differences between the two leaders. The formation of the Socialist Party within the Congress party by Jawaharlal Nehru was the first point of difference between the leaders. Though Nehru followed several rules of Satyagraha and many other principles of Gandhiji, he also opposed some of them vehemently. Nehru's ideologies matched completely with Subhash Chandra Bose and both of them also came together for the freedom struggle. But their extremist approach was strictly opposed by Gandhiji. The differences between Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru also came to the forefront during the Quit India Movement. Gandhiji insisted that freedom had to be granted in 1942 and he would wait no longer, but Jawaharlal Nehru did not support this.

However, irrespective of the differences, Jawaharlal Nehru respected Mahatma Gandhi. He had influenced Nehru's personal, social as well as political life to a great deal. On his death, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the nation and expressed his grief on the loss of the great leader. He felt that India had lost the greatest leader. With both good and bad times, the relationship that Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi shared was a matter of envy for many leaders. It has become an interesting subject of study for many people, even in modern times.

Last Updated on : 10/08/2012