The leaders of the Congress party, then, were great leaders — stalwarts — really dedicated to the cause and to the party which they served. Mahatma Gandhi was the undisputed leader and there were leaders of such caliber as Jawahar Lai Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalacharya, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Sarojini Naidu, Subhash Chandra Bose and a host of others of all castes and all creeds.
Among Muslims, there were Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Abul Kalam Azad, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and among the lower castes — lower castes as then was called — Kamraj in South and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Nobody ever thought of castes and creeds — all were fighters for freedom and were fighting a concerted and combined battle against a foreign rule.
Politics then was not for power but for breaking the shackles of the foreign power. There was complete oneness in aims and objects — the ways might have differed a bit. Subhash Chandra Bose did not see eye to eye with Mahatma Gandhi’s creed of non-violence and resigned from the Presidentship of the Congress.
There was the group of young spirited revolutionaries like Chandrashekhar Azad, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqullah, Ras Behari Bose, and others who wanted to win freedom through violent means. They were feeling uneasy and restive with the Gandhian policy of peace. With all these ideological differences in the modes and methods there was complete unanimity in gaining the one objective — freedom from the foreign yoke. All these leaders had a character; they had a dedication, they had a faith.
India won freedom in 1947, but the communal politics had begun to raise its head. The Muslim League and Jinnah could not accept anything less than a separate country — Pakistan as against Hindustan — that was Bharat. It is from here that rifts began to surface up on communal and caste lines.
Mahatma Gandhi also had his own thinking and his own agenda with regard to the downtrodden class — the British called them scheduled castes —The Shudras’ in the caste hierarchy of old. Mahatma Gandhi was all out to uplift this downtrodden class and to bring them up in the main stream of the social life of the country.
He called them by a new nomenclature — he called them ‘Harijans’. This feeling of sympathy for this class gained so much ground that Dr. Ambedkar — a great legal luminary and one of the framers of the Constitution of free India — himself belonging to the scheduled caste — made a provision of granting ration to the scheduled castes in matters of jobs etc. but he envisaged a period of fifteen years to be sufficient to uplift this class and bring it educationally and culturally at level with the so-called higher classes.
Thus started the politics of communities and castes which in the political field was yet unknown. The creation of Pakistan caused an eternal rift between the two major communities of India — Hindus and Muslims — and the ‘Harijan’ factor created a marked consciousness that there existed a class of people who have to be given due representation in all fields for which the policy of reservation was adopted and accepted.
All this had its wide ramifications at the political level and influenced the future politics of the country and became the basis of coalition governments.
After the country gained independence Pandit Jawahar Lai Nehru was chosen by Mahatma Gandhi to lead the country as the Prime Minister. From 1947 to 1957, the Congress remained the dominant party but the government under Pandit Nehru set in motion the twin ills in governance — corruption and politics of castes. It began to be seen that while forming the cabinet due representation needed to be given to all communities and castes — the Sikhs, the Muslims, the Christians, the Scheduled castes and so on.
The first case of corruption at high places was...