Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Feroze Gandhi and Indira Nehru-Part VI
Kamala was extremely fond of Feroze and she had been instrumental in bringing him to the nationalist movement. Indira had first met him at Allahabad when he joined the nationalist movement.
-Feroze had been a great admirer of Kamala Nehru who had inspired him by her Congress activities to join the nationalist movement. He had been in and out of Anand Bhavan, ready to do whatever work was needed for Kamala, and he had visited her regularly in Europe when she was dying. It was obvious that he had fallen in love with her Indu, and Kamala strongly approved, despite the fact he was not a Hindu, but a Parsi.......Jawaharlal was not particularly keen on the young man, though not for religious reasons. He had no real reason for his disapproval, except a father’s natural caution and over-protectiveness towards his daughter’s first suitor.
-Indira’s friendship with Feroze had grown in Britain. He was a face from home.
Indira said yes to Feroze’s proposal on the steps of Montmartre at Paris.
- “I don’t like Feroze, but I love him.”-Indira’s confession to her friends.
-There was a certain class difference between them. She came from a wealthy urban background; He was from a petit bourgeois family. His sister Tehmina was a personal assistant to a school inspectress. Feroze never attempted to hide his origins, nor was he ashamed of them.
Even though both Indira’s aunts had married outside Kashmiri Brahmin sect and two of her cousins got married to Muslim & Jew, there was no disapproval from the family. But when it came to Indira, there was strong objection from her aunts and family. The only one reason was that Feroze came from a lower social class. But her granny, Kamala’s mother had no objections.
When Nehru tried to gently dissuade Indira from this marriage, her indignant reply was that shortage of money didn’t matter as their politics were similar!
As mentioned elsewhere, Gandhiji and Nehru had to issue public letters on why they supported the Hindu-Parsi marriage.
-DO NOT HURRY BACK.LIVE IN BEAUTY WHILE YOU MAY”. Nehru’s telegram to Indira during her honeymoon at Kashmir. But it didn’t last long due to quit India movement.
In London Feroze had worked with Indian communists to fight with fascism and unemployment. But during 1942, the communists favoured the British, to defend Soviet Union from Hitler’s attack. It seemed that the defence of Russia became more important to communists than India’s freedom. As a result, many including Feroze broke up with them. Both Feroze and Indira supported Nehru’s analysis of the situation that free India would fight against Hitler alongside Britain and USSR .
Jawaharlal, Vijayaleksmi, Feroze & Indira,were among the one lakh nationalists who were arrested during the quit India movement.The shortest term was for Indira- 9 months and she was released on health grounds.
-Personal matters took a secondary place ( to them).
Mother Indira did her duties perfectly well without entrusting her sons to servants. But since they were settled at Lucknow and she had to commute between Delhi and Lucknow quite frequently that finally she decided to settle at Delhi with her father, who was virtually left alone.
Why did Indira decide to go back to her father?
-Feroze was caring, but too much of an extrovert, and she felt that he could manage for himself far more easily than her father....She respected her father’s politics. She was helping the country’s foremost politician, who also happened to be the Prime Minister. The thought of him on his own at Delhi, dependant simply on civil servants, without any love or family life was unbearable to her.
After Gandhiji’s assassination, -she was convinced that her father needed her more than ever before.
So that explains everything, it was not because he wanted to break up with Feroze. But the decision definitely hurt Feroze. But he could understand that she had no choice.
-Jawaharlal always treated Feroze correctly, but there was an unspoken tension between the two men.....Feroze could never relax in the great man’s presence (to which Indira couldn’t do much).
-Jawaharlal’s domestic style was very much coloured by Harrow and Cambridge. His table manners were exquisite, didn’t talk during his meals and he hated vulgarity in any form. Feroze’s eating habits were by contrast loud and he had an enormous reserve of off-colour jokes. He found the atmosphere at Teen Murthi house stifling and his visits decreased.
-Indira was caught in crossfire between the two men.
Feroze contested election and won at Rae Bareily. Instead of settling at PM’s house, he accepted a small bungalow provided to MP.
-At a Congress gathering, Nehru, with Indira sitting next to him on the dias, rebuked the delegates who had brought along their entire families. Feroze, who was seated amongst the delegates, remarked in a very loud voice: “I did not bring my wife!”
Feroze was very much against overthrowing the elected communist Govt in Kerala-of course under the auspices of his wife- and he sharply denounced the leadership for this.
-Feroze was a progressive Congress man, strongly committed to the state sector, and an able and effective Member of Parliament.
It was a time when corruption was beginning to grow and Feroze uncovered a corruption scandal which led to a public inquiry and finally to the resignation of Finance Minister K.K.Krishnamachari, a favourite of Nehru. Result was that Feroze became extremely popular throughout the country.
Feroze suffered his second heart attack in 1960 while Indira was in Kerala. She rushed back to Feroze and sat by him all night. He died early morning. He was only 48 then.
- Indira was shattered. She had neglected Feroze in the belief that that they had their lives ahead of them and that after Jawaharlal died, she and Feroze would be alone.
-“It upset my whole being for years, he was very, very ill and I should have expected that he would die. However, it was not just a mental shock, but it was as though somebody had cut me into two.”-Indira on Feroze’s death.
-Thousands of people had spontaneously lined up the route of his funeral and their grief was real.
-Feroze had never sunk to the level of an ordinary politician. That was the reason for his popularity.
If he had not died that early, India’s political fate would have been different from what it is now, I believe.