India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru “read history, wrote history and made history,” said the former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh. “But history has been unkind to Nehru,” he added, delivering a lecture “Legacy of Pandit Nehru” organised by the MRV Foundation to mark Nehru’s 124th birth anniversary on Thursday.
While most historic figures generally see a “revival” of interest in them, Jawaharlal Nehru has seen no such renewed interest, and on the contrary, “his reputation seems to slip every year,” he said, adding that popular opinion polls find that the public places him “at the third or the fourth place” on the list of India’s former Prime Ministers. “He should occupy the top place,” he added.
If Mahatma Gandhi provided a moral dimension to the Indian Independence movement, Jawaharlal Nehru provided the intellectual dimension elevating the level of political dialogue, Mr. Singh said.
“There is no doubt that Nehru was a great man,” he said, adding that unlike several other leaders who were his contemporaries, such as Stalin and Churchill, “Nehru had no blood on his hands.”
Jawaharlal Nehru inspired millions, he had a vision and did not abandon hope, said Mr. Singh adding that he was “bitten by the Nehru bug” early in life.
Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, who presided over the function, said that it was “unfortunate” that contemporary political discourse pits Nehru against Sardar Patel.
Jawaharlal Nehru had nothing but the greatest regard for Patel, who he called the “Iron man”, the Governor said.