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Need to get out of "Cult Worship" that Nehru era was great: S Jaishankar
3/20/2024 10:16:23 PM
NEW DELHI, Mar 20: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today took a critical view of some of the key decisions made by the Jawaharlal Nehru government, and said one needs to get out of this "cult worship" that the period from 1946 onwards was "great years" and the country did "splendidly".
In the early years, it was very much "a Nehruvian ideological bubble" when it came to foreign policy and "vestiges of that continue, even today," he said in response to a question during a session at the News18 Rising Bharat Summit.
A career diplomat-turned-politician, Mr Jaishankar spoke on a range of issues such as India's role during G20 presidency, the criticism surrounding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, abrogation of Article 370, and India-China and India-Pakistan relations in the current context and the geopolitical scenario.
Asked about the legacy of the foreign policy of the government in the early years after independence, Mr Jaishankar said, "You got Pakistan wrong, you got China wrong, you got US right, and we had a great foreign policy. So, put that aside."
"I am not saying that today, benefit of 2024, let's look back 1954 or 1950, I am saying, somebody in 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, as you were taking those decisions, stood up and said, 'please, Mr Nehru, what you are doing, have you looked at this aspect of it'. So this is not hindsight, these are Nehru's contemporaries who are questioning decisions which Nehru was taking at that point of time," he said.
The former foreign secretary cited Syama Prasad Mookerjee's views on the Nehru-Liaquat Pact and views of B R Ambedkar on Nehru's decisions to buttress his claim.
"So, this is not hindsight, this is not a political polemic. I am placing before the younger generation, historical situation, which is what I called the 'road not taken', that road was available and that road was marked," he said.
"Now, I am not saying they were no-brainers, there are pluses and minuses, but we need to get out of this cult worship that everything from 1946 till, pick your year... that these were great years, and we did splendidly and if anything went wrong, other people were to blame.
"But Nehru's foreign policy is such an impeccable theology that even today, whoever comes to power must follow it. And, any deviation is somewhere wrong," Mr Jaishankar said.
Asked if India not facing a two-front situation today, he said, "We have...we have always been, it is we who were in denial." The external affairs minister's strong remarks on the opposition comes ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
"Companies are audited. After all, a country should also be audited, policies should be audited. People should look at what happened in the past with an open mind and a critical mind," he said, adding he would also be very happy to discuss the last 10 years with anyone.
He argued that in the early years after independence, "it was very much a Nehruvian ideological bubble. Nehru was against America, so everybody was against America. Nehru said China is a great friend, everybody said China is a great friend. So, the vestiges of that continue, even today".
"I mean, you have a concept called 'Chindia', and many of you will remember, who put that concept forward,"Mr Jaishankar added.
On ties with Pakistan, he said, India's relations with its neighbours at a formal level are "very minimal".
It happened for two reasons, one is that India has "put terrorism fair and square at the centre of the relationship".
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