The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Meeting JL Nehru and Freedom Struggle of Jai Prakash Narayan
Meeting JL Nehru
Democracy cannot be made secure and strong without peace. Peace and democracy are the two sides of a coin. Neither oF them can survive without the other.
At the time that Jai Prakash returned from America, nationalist feelings had reached a peak of frenzy. Early in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Salt Satyagraha. Jai Prakash joined the fray with whole-hearted enthusiasm.
A few days after Jai Prakash’s return, a session of the Bihar provincial congress was held at Munger. Rajendra Prasad presided over the meetings, and Sardar Patel too was present. The victory at Bardoli had raised their spirits and given the session an added importance. The chief issue at Munger session was whether the nationalist movement should demand full independence, or whether a promise of dominion status was enough.
The congressmen were all’ for the more radical demand, complete independence. The older leaders opposed them. Jai Prakash was at that session as an observer. From Sitab-diara he went with Prabhavati to Wardha to meet Bapu. Prabhavati went because she wanted to return to her duties at the ashram. After the working-committee deliberations, Jai Prakash and Jawaharlal Nehru were introduced to each other.
From Wardha, Jai Prakash and Prabhavati accompained Gandhiji to Lahore, where Jawaharlal presided over the Congress session. Thousands of people marched in tumultuous processions. Great shouts of “Inquilab Zindabad” (Long live the revolution) rant the air. This was the session at which Nehru announced that Congress would fight for complete independence (Poorna Swaraj).
The meetings were drawing to a close. The big question was, what will Prabha do now? Would she go with Bapu to Wardha or choose to stay with her husband? Neither husband nor wife seemed to want to broach this ticklish subject. Prabha went to look for Bapu to seek his advice. Bapu said: “It is your Dharma, your duty. You must go with your husband”. She bent down to touch Bapu’s feet and burst into tears.
One day Jawaharlal Nehru came up to Jai Prakash and asked him what he was doing. Jai Prakash answered that he wanted to work for the country and join the Congress. “In that case, come to Allahabad” said Jawaharlal. As Congress President, Jawaharlal wanted to appoint Jai Prakash a Secretary in the Labour Department of the Congress. Jai Prakash agreed to go to Allahabad and join.
It was the beginning of 1930, Jai Prakash was in Allahabad and Prabha with him. They rented a house in the George town locality in Allahabad for sixty rupees. Their total income was a hundred and fifty rupees a month. Nehru said “Why are you unnecessarily spending so much money in the rent? Why don’t you come and stay at Swaraj Bhavan? So that was there Jai Prakash and Prabha moved next. Nehru became more and more impressed with Jai Prakash’s acute intelligence.
Soon after the movement of 1930 began. But at about the same time, his mother fell ill, and Jai Prakash returned to his home. His mother died at the end of this illness, and Jai Prakash was unable to involve himself with the movement any more. He stayed on in the village for a while. Financially the family was in necessity straits, and Jai Prakash had no thought of leaving them to secure for themselves. Kamala Nehru, wife of Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote Prabha a letter that Jai Prakashji should come back and attend to his work.
Only those who have no Faith or confidence in the people or are unable to win the people’s confidence take to violent means.
The Congress celebrated, “Independence day” all over India on 26th January 1930. Mahatma Gandhi, authorised by the Congress commended the Civil Disobedience movement in March by starting the Salt Satyagraha and the march to Dandi. The whole country was inflamed.
Jai Prakash and Prabha were quickly down into the centre of the agitation and went to Allahabad. Mahatma Gandhi was detained in May that year. The Congress was banned, but its meetings continued and its public support grew, and leaflets and directives issued by it continued to find their way to all parts of the country.
It was the first time in the history of British rule that the government was humbled. Lord Irwin summoned Gandhi for talks in February 1931. The Satyagraha was called off. The ban on Congress was lifted. Mahatma Gandhi left for Round Table Conference in London. The Viceroy agreed to release the civil disobedience prisoners and to allow people living on the coast to manufacture salt.
During this period, Jai Prakash recieved the news that his father had a paralytic stroke. There was no option for him but to take leave or absence from his work. The family was in grave financial trouble. Now there was no money to take care of the father’s medical bill. Jai Prakash wrote to Gandhi and described his predicament. Bapu replied to say that Jai Prakash’s primary loyality was undoubtedly towards his father and family and that he must rush to their aid. He also wrote to GD Birla asking him if he could somehow help Jai Prakash, suggesting that a teaching post at Pilani college would do fine. The government however would not have permitted a political firebrand like Jai Prakash to teach at Pilani, and so Birla offered Jai Prakash a job as his secretary.
Jai Prakash Narayan stayed with Birla for six months until the Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed. Immediately after Jawaharlal Nehru summoned Jai Prakash to return to work for the new legal Congress.
A winter morning in 1940, Jai Prakash had been served with a warrant of arrest. He had been charged with making an unlawful speech on the 18th of February that year at Jamshedpur. Two days later, Jai Prakash was put behind bars in the Chaivasa jail. Gandhi and Nehru protested against this flagrant repressive measure. Gandhi wrote: “The arrest of Jai Prakash Narayan is unfortunate. He is no ordinary worker. He is an authority on Socialism. He has forsaken all for the sake of the deliverance of his country. His industry is tireless”.
Nine months later, Jai Prakash was removed from Chaivasa to the Hazaribagh jail, where he joined the political detenus of the communist party and the forward block. Instead of comradeship he was treated with hostility.
In the jail, Jai Prakash’s political work continued uninterrupted. To those who were willing to listen, he talked endlessly about politics and political economy. Gradually, he established contact with associates whose activities had not been curtailed by imprisonment. Soon, by smuggling out despatches, he somehow managed to write articles, they were signed—simply ‘a Congress Socialist’.
After a few months Jai Prakash Narayan was released and he resolved not to allow himself to be imprisoned again. This meant living and working in hiding, with the utmost secrecy. It did not mean abandoning his political mission or curtailing his activity.
Immediately after he contacted Gandhi and then Subhash Chandra Bose, still intent on bringing about a rapproachement between the two, but his talks with Bose were unfruitful. From Calcutta, Jai Prakash went to Bihar to bolster the Peasant movement (led by Swamy Sahajananda) in its struggle against the repressive machinery of the state.
From Bihar he travelled to Gujarat and then to Bombay, where he attended meetings and met other leaders. And then suddenly he was rearrested and sent to the Arthur Road Jail in Bombay city. And from there, to Deoli camp, where he joined about 500 prisoners under political detention. Once again Jai Prakash utilised this period of enforced ‘rest’ in busying himself in the only kind of political activity open to him.
By 1942, the war had moved to India’s doorstep. In February that year Singapore fell to the Japanese, and Rangoon a month later. Churchill and Roosevelt turned their attention to the Eastern Theatre of war. The prisoners were released soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Now, the fall of Rangoon prompted Churchill to despatch to India in March 1942, a British Cabinet Minister, Sir Stafford Cripps. The Indian political deadlock had suddenly become a matter of grave concern not only to the British, but to their allies, the USA and China, and they pressed for a solution to the Internal Conflict.
The Cripps Mission had aroused hopes in the Congress circles and suspicion among the Muslim leagues, but turned out to be disappointing to the former and stimulating to the latter. The failure of the Mission further sharpened the Congress hostility towards the British. The approach of Japan to India’s Eastern frontier aroused among the Congressmen mixed feelings of hope and fear.
There was the fear that Japan might turn out to be a new Imperialist, Nehru’s anti-British attitude was not, therefore a plea to submit to Japan. The Congress now looked for guidance of Gandhi, who was in a more uncompromising mood than ever. He decided that British must ‘Quit India’ immediately.
Immediately after the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution on the 6th July 1942 asking the British to withdraw from India, threatening a civil disobedience movement if they remained. The revolution was endorsed by the All india Congress Committee on the 8th August 1942 in Bombay. The very next day all members of the Congress Working Committee and Mahatma Gandhi were arrested and the Indian National Congress was outlawed. Gandhi reiterated his call for non-violent agitation, but his mood had changed and it was not clear that he would condemn the nation for choosing whatever method it found suitable to force the British to quit. Gandhi had sounded the clarion call ‘Do or Die’.
Hundreds of thousands of people responded to Gandhi’s call passionately. Finding no Congress leaders outside prison to guide them, they resorted to violence. Trains were derailed and looted, police stations were set ablaze and telegraph lines cut. Particularly in Bihar and UP the apparatus of the British government was ground to a complete halt, and the army was called in.
With all the Congress leaders behind bars, the socialist assumed the task of master-minding the movement and directing the rampaging crowds. Everyday there were reports of police firings and fresh arrests. Achyut Patwardhan, Dr. Lohia and their companions formed a central mobilisation committee. At the best of times, however, they were little- known substitutes for the Congress stalwarts.
All this time, Jai Prakash Narayan was pacing his cell in rage of frustration. At the high-tide of the movement, he found himself chained and confined unable to play any role at all. He decided to attempt a jail-break and explained his plans to the other inmates. The very next day the guards were changed and the security arrangements were intensified. Somehow the plan had leaked to the authorities, and it now seemed a more difficult project than ever.
August and September 1942 came and went. Many prisoners were tried, sentenced and despatched to jails in other parts of the country. As the number of prisoners in the jail dwindled, the armed guards were removed.