New Login   

No Chanakya

N.S. Jagannathan

By D.P. Mishra
Vikas, New Delhi, 1978, pp. viii 380, Rs. 75.00

VOLUME III NUMBER 1 July/August 1978

The second volume of D.P. Mishra’s autobiography covers the years of Nehru's ascendancy, decline and death, during the major part of which Mishra was himself in the political dog-house. For one whom his friends considered a Chanakya, Mishra shows himself by his own account to be extraordinarily acci¬dent-prone, impulsive and singularly lacking in a sense of timing. Identified, with some reason, as ‘Patel's man’, his involvement in the ‘Tandon affair’ in the early fifties led to his clashing with Nehru, and eventually, after Patel's death in December 1950, to his open denunciation of Nehru and resignation from the Madhya Pradesh Government in 1951. In retrospect, all this hardly appears to be the action of a cold-blooded political calculator with an instinct for survival. In fact, all his sub¬sequent troubles that lasted well over a decade, are directly traced by Mishra himself to that bizarre episode, described in some detail in the book.   It is clear that, contrary to the myth assiduously propagated by his admirers, Nehru was more—or less?—than a starry-eyed idealist with no inclination or gift for organizational manipulation. He may have been quite right in his ideologi¬cal assessment of Tandon, but the way he built up pressure within the party to get Tandon eased out of Congress Presi¬dentship is not the work of an amateur in political management. Nehru was no Prince Hamlet, ineffectual and indecisive: there was in him—I say this descrip¬tively and not pejoratively—a streak of calculation and ambiguity, and a pro¬found instinct for political survival that eluded many another, including Mishra.   That despite his considerable gifts, Mishra was a political failure—this again, is a value-free judgement—is writ large in this book. What else is one to make of a politician who, instead of catching at the flood the tide of post-Independence opportunities, spends twelve un-reconciled years in the wilderness, making from time to time ineffectual and not particularly dignified efforts to get back into grace? He apologized twice for his anti-Nehru stance of 1951, once in 1955 and a second time in 1961 in 'terms that were both abject and—in his own judgement—insincere. Mishra him¬self blames it all on Nehru's instinctive hostility towards him, but the evidence produced is more circumstantial than direct. He had a steadfast friend in Morarji Desai who pleaded his cause time and again with Nehru, but according to ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.