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MATTERS OF ADMINISTRATION 1, To B, R. Ambedkar* New Delhi 27 April 1948 My dear Dr. Ambedkar, On my return to Delhi this afternoon I read a report of your speech” recently delivered in Lucknow before the U.P. Scheduled Castes Conference. I must confess that 1 was surprised and distressed to read this speech. It raises certain rather fundamental matters about the functioning of the Cabinet and itsmembers. There is an attack in it on individuals as well as on the Congress as such, and an appeal for bringing about divisions in the Congress ranks. There is a further appeal for the functioning of a purely communal political organisation which, I should have thought, is opposed to the recent decla- ration of policy by the Government in regard to such communal political organisations. 2. You are further reported to have said as follows: There has been a large number of fifth columnists in our ranks and only when we expose them and strengthen ourselves will we be able to replace Nehru and Patel in a matter of days.* 3. There are many other passages of your speech as reported which seem very odd to me as coming from a Cabinet Minister. But I shall not quote them here. 4. We have welcomed your cooperation in the Government and in the Constituent Assembly and attached value to the work you have done. I am not aware of any occasion when any of my colleagues or I have done anything which might be termed discourtesy to you. I had hoped that this cooperation would grow and that we would continue to benefit by your advice and work. 5. Your speech, however, is such that I can hardly imagine any Cabinet Minister being responsible for it. It is an attack on the Congress which is 1. Sardar Patel’s Correspondence 1945-50 Vol. 6, pp. 328-329. 2, The National Herald of 20 April 1948 quoted Ambedkar as having criticised Nehru, Patel and Pant for their policies and appealed to the Scheduled Castes to bring about fragmentation in the Congress ranks and make the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes a separate and large political party. Ambedkar had joined the Cabinet but not the Congress Party. 3. Ambedkar explained on 28 April 1948 that he had mentioned the “fifth columnists” as a divisive force among the Scheduled Castes, responsible for the rejection of their demand for separate electorates. If they would unite and form a political party, their voting strength could help them capture power even ftom such men of stature as Nehru and Patel. 373 SELECTED WORKS OF JAWAHARLAL NEHRU responsible for the present Government. It is an attack on the Premier of the United Provinces and the U.P. Government,‘ and it is an attack on me as Prime Minister and on the Deputy Prime Minister. You state clearly, if you are reported aright, that it is your purpose to push us out. Your reference to fifth columnists presumably means our colleague Jagjivan Ram as well as those who think with him. If these views had been expressed by you in private to us, the situation would have been embarrassing enough for both you and me. It is doubly embarrassing when public statements have been made. If ministers feel and speak in this way there is no Cabinet responsibility left. The Prime Minister might as well shut up shop. 6. am not writing any more to you on this subject except to point out to you the serious consequences of the speech you are reported to have made. There can hardly be any cooperation or common working on that basis. I should be grateful to you if you let me know if the report is a correct one. Yours sincerely, Jawaharlal Nebru 4. Ambedkar’s version was that he had told the conference that the Chief Minister of U.P. gave only 10 per cent reservation in the services instead of 22 per cent because the Scheduled Castes wore not a large and separate political party capable of substantially undermining his position in the legislature, 5. Ambedkar clarified that any suggestion that he was attempting to turn the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister out of office was “fantastic”. The reference to Nehru and Patel in his speech had been general, and “there is no plot, there is not even an idea which has any foundation in personal ambition.” His specch “related only to the future elections under the new constitution,” and “had not the remotest reference to the present Government.” . 2, To Vallabhbhai Patel’ New Delhi 27 April 1948 My dear Vallabhbhai, I returned from Bombay this afternoon after spending four very strenuous Gays there. 1 feel tired and worn out. But immediately on arrival here I have to face a host of difficult problems. 2. Among them there is something new—Ambedkar’s recent speech in Lucknow. You must have seen this in the newspapers. There is a somewhat 1. Sardar Patel's Correspondence 1945-50 Vol. 6, pp. 327-328. 374 MATTERS OF ADMINISTRATION fuller report of it in the National Herald of 26 April. I just do not see how Ambedkar can continue as a Minister in our Cabinet after this speech. 1am writing a letter to him,? a copy of which I enclose. 3. There is so much that seems to me wrong that I do not know how and where to begin. On top of all this, most people’s nerves are in a bad way due to overwork and perhaps heat. I have just received a letter from K.C. Neogy which is needlessly aggressive simply because of some minor decision of the Cabinet in regard to the Rehabilitation Board.* As a matter of fact the Cabinet did not come to any decision at all, but elucidated a previous decision about the autonomy of the Board, and postponed further consideration to the next meeting when Neogy was likely to be present. 4, Dr. Bidhan Roy is here. I do not know what to do about Bengal and have requested Rajendra Babu to deal with the matter. I agree with you entirely that we cannot impose a decision on West Bengal and the party there will have to decide. But in any event, as in the Punjab, it is almost a 50 : 50 affair and whatever the decision, an unstable ministry results. In West Bengal, as in East Punjab, Ministers have joined in the requisition for a change of Ministry. This is a very improper practice. If a minister feels that way he must resign first. 5. I think it would be worthwhile for you to give Rs. 10,000 to Bidhan Roy for helping workers in East Bengal. If Bidhan ccases to be Premier, the money can be given to his successor. 6. One odd factor in the situation in West Bengal is that some of the prominent persons concerned are from East Bengal, such as Surendra Mohan Ghosh, not to mention Kiran Shankar Roy. I had a brief talk with Prafulla Babu in Bombay, and he scemed to think that the only way out of the difficulty was to have a new Ministry, jointly formed by him and Surendra Mohan Ghosh, one of the two being Premicr. Perhaps this might be donc. But even that Ministry is not likely to have too long a life. At the present moment it is rather doubtful which way a majority lics.* 2. See the preceding item. 3. Neogy felt that his ministry was being subjected to too much interference from outside. 4. Members of the West Bengal Congress Party, including two Ministers, three parl- iamentary scerctarics and the chief whip, submitted a requisition to B.C. Roy for the reconstitution of the Ministry under a new Icader. The crisis ended on 5 May 1948, with the 22 requisitionists withdrawing their demand and the other 30 expressing confidence in Roy’s leadership. On 6 May, Roy tendered the resignation of his cabinet and as the leader of the majority party in the legislature formed a new cabinet with 9 out of 12 members from the old cabinet. 375 SELECTED WORKS OF JAWAHARLAL NEHRU 7. I feel your absence greatly. There are so many serious problems cropping up continually about which I would like to consult you. Apart from this there is the question of the ministries specifically under your charge. ‘You will be issuing directions to them no doubt from day to day on important matters. Nevertheless, your absence will make them rather loose. In the States Ministry, V.P. Menon is frequently touring. In the Home Ministry Banerjee is far from satisfactory. In Information and Broadcasting Bhalja has apparently just taken charge. I do not know if you can suggest some procedure for these Ministries so that while important references should be made to you, some minister here can be kept in more intimate touch with them, Gopalaswami will be back in a day or two. 8. I received a number of letters from you today. One of them dealt with the possibility of our inviting journalists from the Middle East to India. I shall investigate that. 9. After Gopalaswami’s return we shall have to send some formal reply to the Security Council about Kashmir.® Also to send more definite instruc- tions about Junagadh. 10. As for appointing a Joint High Commissioner at Dacca, Prafulla Babu agrees. But now owing to the possible change in the Ministry in West Bengal, everything is in a melting pot.7 Yours, Jawaharlal 5. On8 May 1948, India informed the U.N. that it could not accept the Security Council's original resolution of 17 April 1948 which requested Pakistan to withdraw the raiders, asked India to reduce its armed presence to the bare minimum, and further asked for fall powers to the U.N. Commission and a U.N.-nominated Plebiscite Administrator to conduct a plebiscite in Kashmir, the fairness of which the Commissioa would certify. India, however, agreed to cooperate with the U.N. Commission within the limits set by the political situation. 6. On 6 May 1948, India conveyed that if the U.N, agreed to Pakistan's demand for a second referendum in Junagadh, India would not refuse, but it maintained that the first referendum in February 1948 was absolutely fair and the results of a second referendum would be identical, 7, Santosh Kumar Basu was appointed the first Deputy High Commissioner at Dhaka in November 1948, 376 MATTERS OF ADMINISTRATION. 3. To B.R. Ambedkar* New Delhi 30 April 1948 My dear Dr. Ambedkar, Thank you for your letter of the 28th April” As you have not scen the report of your speech, I am sending you a cutting from the National Herald of Lucknow. The specch has been reported in nearly all the papers at some length and you may have also scen editorial comments’ on it. There is little doubt that your speech has created something of a sensation and has dis- turbed and distressed many people. 2. The surprise and distress was all the greater for me because ever since you joined the Government at my invitation there has been no occasion when there was the slightest ill will between us. We have differed occasionally, of course, as even the most intimate colleagues can differ. But that difference has not come in the way of our cooperation and of our working together. I gladly acknowledge that cooperation from you during this period and the ‘way you have helped all of us in working more or less as a team. When I invited you to join the Government, of course, I put forward no conditions. Tt seems to me unbecoming to attach conditions to an offer for cooperation in acommon task, Of course certain consequences are inherent in such working together. For instance I am Prime Minister chiefly because of my position in the Congress organisation and because it is the Congress that was responsible for forming the Cabinet. My invitation to you therefore was more than a personal invitation; it was an invitation on behalf of the organisation I have the honour to represent. That organisation welcomed you not as one of its menibers but as a colleague in the Cabinet. I have not asked you to join the Congress. That is entirely a matter for you to decide whichever way you like. But inevitably our working together in a Cabinet, which is essentially a Congress Cabinet, means a certain goodwill towards the Congress or at least 1. Rajendra Prasad Papers, N.A.I. 2. Ambedkar said that his speech had been intended to meet the criticism levelled against him by some of his followers as to why he had been silent since the departure of the Cabinet Mission and why he had joined the Congress Government. There was no hostility to the Congtess, or reference to the Cabinet or any member of the Government, 3. The Hindustan Times regretted that Ambedkar, who had contributed to the Nehru * Cabinet's achievements, should have made a public statement which could be inter- preted as a confession of failure. The Bombay Chronicle accused him of opportunism and of bolstering his uncertain position through communalism. 4, Ambedkar had said that he had been asked to join the Central Government uncondi- tionally, 377 SELECTED WORKS OF JAWAHARLAL NEHRU an avoidance of anything that might be construed as an attack on the Congress. 3. What the future of the Congress is going to be is more than I can prophesy, though the latest indications from elections and otherwise ate that it has a very powerful hold on the public mind and that it will continue to have that hold in spite of defections. But however that may be, you will appreciate that your references to the Congress, as reported, must hurt Congressmen and make them feel that you wish to undermine and destroy that organisation. You refer, as reported, that the Congress is a kind of enemy and persecutor of the Scheduled Castes which must be broken up by even greater fragmentation and thus made helpless.* It is open to anyone to say this of the Congress, but coming from a colleague in the Congress Cabinet it does seem odd and rather hurts. 4, The Congress may have erred on many occasions, but I do believe that as an organisation it has done its utmost to raise the Scheduled Castes and all backward classes, I hope that you will not doubt my bona fides in this matter. Looking at it even from a narrow point of view I should imagine that it was to the benefit of the Scheduled Castes to have the powerful aid of the Congress rather than range themselves in hostility to it. 5. You refer to the resolution against communalism which the Assembly adopted and what I said on that occasion.® Even before I had spoken to you on this subject the matter had been raised in our party meeting and I had made it perfectly clear that it was our duty to help in every way the Scheduled Castes and that this resolution was not meant to come in the way. That was what I repeated in my speech in the Assembly. But I did not mean that some kind of a communal organisation should be favoured for the Scheduled Castes in spite of that resolution. That resolution was quite clear about political communal bodies. We cannot go behind that resolution after giving it our full support. That support indeed was a reflection of the public demand to put down communalism in politics. I feel sure that any political organisation built up on a communal basis will not succeed in the future and will indeed do injury to the very cause it advocates. 5. Ambedkar was reported to have said that the Scheduled Castes would be in a position of power if the Congress was divided into various factions and groups. 6. In reply to Nehru’s charge that he was advocating communal organisations Ambedkar had pointed out that in a Cabinet meeting Nehru had accepted in substance his view that the Scheduled Castes had to form their own political organisation to enforce safeguards. He had also said that Nehru had referred to this point in the Assembly debate on the resolution against communalism. See Selected Works (Second Series), Vol. 5, pp. 37-38. 378 MATTERS OF ADMINISTRATION 6. In the report of your speech you have referred to fifth columnists.” T imagine this refers to members of the Scheduled Castes who have closely associated themselves with the Congress. Among them are many of our colleagues and notably Shri Jagjivan Ram. To refer to these colleagues of ours who have laboured so much for the cause of the Scheduled Castes as fifth columnists is hardly a gracious thing to do apart from its other aspects. 7, Ihave valued your cooperation in the Government and in the Consti- tuent Assembly very greatly and I hoped that this would lead us into other fields of cooperation. Because of this the shock of reading your speech has been all the greater. For my part I want your cooperation to continue in the tasks ahead because I feel that you can serve the nation with conspicuous ability. I would not personally mind any criticism of me by you or anyone else. But the matter is not a personal one and it has an important public aspect. Newspapers are commenting upon it and I have received today a formal notice from a member of the Constitutent Assembly informing me that he intends to raise this matter in the Assembly.* For my part I should like, if it is possible, to clear this matter up before the public so that the public mind may be set at rest. That might be done if you could issue a suitable statement to the press.° 8. Tomorrow afternoon I am holding a press conference about Kashmir and Hyderabad.’® It is quite possible that I might be asked questions about your speech and I shall have some difficulty in answering it. 9. I shall be glad to meet you and discuss this matter with you at some time convenient to us both. Yous sincerely, Jawaharlal Nehru 7. Ambedkar had said that he had joined the Congress Government because the British had left the Scheduled Castes in the lurch and because there were many fifth columnists in their ranks and therefore the time was not right for conflict. 8. Algu Rai Shastri, a member of the Constituent Assembly, had written to Nehru demand- ing the removal of Ambedkar from the Cabinet. : 9. On 2 May 1948 Ambedkar made a statement outlining the main points of his speech and declaring that any suggestion that he had attacked the Congress or his Cabinet colleagues was a “travesty of facts”. 10. See ante, section 4, item 8. 11. In reply to this letter Ambedkar said that the National Herald had distorted his speech and that his justification for cooperating with the Congress had been omitted. Tf, despite the press statement, Nehru felt embarrassed he was prepared to resign. He appreciated that his joining the Cabinet implied certain restrictions but he reserved the Tight to advise his people. 379