‘Would there have been Gandhi without Nehru?’

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The UPA’s future, or at least UP’s future, was in a reverie.

As he ploughed the depths of his mind, visions of mind- boggling responsibilities and sacrifices his family had endured for generations all for the cause of the Nation, must have flashed across.

Having replayed it over and over, he was at last ready to share his thoughts with me.

“Yes. I can remember my Great great granddad. Had he not come down from down from the ivory cloud of aristocracy and jumped in to the commoner bandwagon and given a direction, I shudder to think where the ‘Father of the Nation’ would have taken the ‘Freedom Movement’. Forget getting embarrassed playing or listening to it, even today we wouldn’t have had our own National Anthem.”

“Indeed, if you say so.”

The young man was referring to the token efforts made by the First Nehru, Motilal Nehru, in helping Mahatma Gandhi.

“Even though he did a tango with Chou-en-Lai for the echoes of ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai’, my great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to drive out the chinks when they invaded our North-East Border. But his Defence Minister Krishna Menon let him down badly as the ordnance factories were making lipsticks instead of bullets! Of course, who can forget his friendship with a few British subjects which greatly helped in smooth transfer of power from Britain to India?”

“There’s no doubt about it. It’s now part of the freedom folklore. He also anointed your grandmother as Congress President when he was the Prime Minister. In a way, that was the opening partnership.”

“My Grandmother, sometimes also referred to as ‘the only Man in a Cabinet of Women’ didn’t particularly like bangles. Unseen ‘Foreign Hands’ during her times troubled her and when she felt a few of these, with the help of some toothless tottering oldies were hatching a plot, she clamped the Emergency to save the Nation from outside and within.”

“Absolutely. Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if Indira Gandhy, who, conveniently changed her name to Indira Gandhi had not ruled us. But later, your Party pleaded with the Nation.. ‘Forget and Forgive us for this’.”

“My uncle Sanjay Gandhi was a man in a hurry and had lined up big plans for the country. Finding the hospitals and wards were not sterilized properly, he thought it was better to sterilize people straightaway. Had he not died in the plane crash, he would have taken the country to the twenty-first century a couple of decades much earlier. He even had to tweak the ears of Kishore Kumar and Hema Malini when they refused to sing and dance along our Party tunes.”

“That was the phase of either ‘you are with us or against us’ in our country.”

“My dad did his best to make the country strong and got the best gun in business. But before we could fire a single shot, so many salvos were fired at it, it became the costliest gun in history. Because of that gun my uncle Quattrochhiji has to flee country after country with a stupid ‘Red-corner alert’ following him even now, every where.”

“This can be unnerving to most, but your uncle is managing fine.”

“The sacrifice my mom made is already written in letters of gold. She alone fought the Mahabharata war—the last election—against the trio of Vajpayee, Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi, modern-day avatar of Bhishma, Drona and Kripacharya. She’s the modern Draupadi. When she made the decision of not becoming the Prime Minister, there was not a single Congress dry eye in Delhi. It was all so moving.”

“Y’re right. Even the 1984 Sikh massacre didn’t move the Congress so much. But this one moved all of them.”

“I can see it’s a saga which will go on forever. Isn’t it amazing how one family could go on doing so much for a country.”

“It doesn’t surprise me at all. When you have to be in touch with the grassroots, you have to bend your spine sometimes. But, over a period of time, the spineless position has become a hallmark for the majority of members of your Party for generations.”