Rahul Gandhi's Cambridge outburst and Nehru dynasty's pedigreed relationship with Britain

Rahul Gandhi genuinely aspires to become India’s Prime Minister no matter the method or the cost

Sandeep Balakrishna March 09, 2023 11:27:56 IST
Rahul Gandhi's Cambridge outburst and Nehru dynasty's pedigreed relationship with Britain

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing Cambridge University. Image Courtesy: @sampitroda/Twitter

After shedding his industrial-length beard, Rahul Gandhi habitually flew abroad and landed in Cambridge to do what he does best: score self-goals. While we’ve reconciled to his decadal bloopers as facts of nature, his latest outburst in England clearly falls in the lethal domain. While it is thoroughly unfunny, Rahul’s England visit also has a historical pedigree. The pedigree is the Nehru dynasty’s almost-umbilical link with England. 

When Jawaharlal Nehru thundered that he was the last Brown Sahib to rule India, it was interpreted as another expression of his infamous pomposity. Which it was. But it was also the truth. Nehru had uttered the words with abiding conviction. Nehru, more than even Rahul Gandhi, was the ultimate Brown Sahib whose worldview was moulded at the Harrow School and beaten into irreparable shape at Cambridge and reinforced by Harold Laski and the Fabian Society. His rejection of Hindu Dharma was the outgrowth of his genuine faith in its futility and irrelevance, unlike Rahul Gandhi whose faith in any philosophy or ideology is highly suspect. 

Nehru’s lifelong fascination for European ideological cults like Marxism also had a practical side to it. It was the irresistible magnet that repeatedly pulled him to Europe and the erstwhile USSR. Sita Ram Goel memorably describes Nehru’s visits to the USSR as his “pilgrimages to the Soviet Paradise.” A careful study of that period reveals another overlooked truth: each time the Indian freedom struggle arrived at a critical juncture, Nehru flew off to Europe. Police brutality and incarceration were for lesser patriots. 

In the specific context of his England visits, Nehru shrewdly cultivated relationships that have endured almost till date as we shall see. To mention only two instances, Nehru’s Man Friday, VK Krishna Menon teamed up with Allen Lane and founded Penguin Books, which published Nehru’s Autobiography, Glimpses of World History and The Discovery of India. Royalties from these books subsidised Indira Gandhi’s education in England. The second was his lasting collaboration with the Mountbattens, a relationship that became eminently useful when Indira Gandhi lost power.  

Nehru’s Prime Ministerial career shows us the psychological side of the phenomenon. While he was outwardly full of fire and bluster against colonial excesses and American capitalism, his political, diplomatic and administrative decisions show that he was forever anxious to please the colonial white skin. Among other things, this is best reflected in his near servile attitude to Communist Russia. Nehru was the only head of state to mourn the death of “Marshal” Stalin and announce a holiday for the Indian Parliament. The same psyche impelled him to allow white-skinned Christian missionaries a free run in India and virtually gifted the whole of North East to the smooth-talking but ruthless evangelist named Verrier Elwin.     


‘Have you come to Britain to make your comeback?,’ asked a throng of journalists. 

‘But where had I gone?,’ answered Indira Gandhi with a broad smile. 

This exchange occurred at the Heathrow Airport circa 12 November, 1978. Indira Gandhi had been trounced in the post-Emergency elections and chose England as the launchpad to rehabilitate her domestic political career. In her brilliant Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi, Katherine Frank describes this visit: 

“Officially this was a private visit. Indira stayed at Claridge’s Hotel, and in the same suite she had occupied when she had been Prime Minister. But in 1978 she was the guest of a wealthy Indian industrialist, established in Britain, named Swraj Paul who paid all her expenses… Indira’s friendship with Swraj Paul went back to 1966… In November 1978 it was Swraj Paul who orchestrated Indira’s political rehabilitation in Britain. On this ‘private visit’, he organised numerous support rallies for her which were attended largely by Indians. He arranged for her to meet the Prime Minister, James Callaghan, and to address a large gathering of both Labour and Conservative MPs… Indira’s friend, the Conservative Party leader, Margaret Thatcher, was… also present and entirely sympathetic.”

Oh, and in the same trip, novelist Barbara Cartland “whisked her off to see ‘dear, dear Dickie’ in her white Rolls Royce (Dickie, is otherwise known as Lord Louis Mountbatten) and Michael Foot, leader of the House of Commons and deputy prime minister, who positively drooled over her.”

One wonders what “political rehabilitation” really means when the entire political establishment of Britain joined ranks to support a former Prime Minister who had imposed a quasi-dictatorship on its former colony just a year ago. This sort of long-term investment that England made in India’s political elite is unparalleled in history.  

Its latest manifestation is the red-carpet welcome that her grandson, Rahul Gandhi received in Cambridge a couple of days ago. But this is not 1978 and Rahul Gandhi is not his grandmother. But some parallels persist. The Communist groups whose support Indira Gandhi used in order to consolidate her power are no longer recognisable. In fact, after her 1980 comeback, she launched an active campaign to destroy them. 

And forty years later, the rebranded Communists — with enormous support from the global Far Left — seem to have had the last laugh. Rahul Gandhi’s closest circle comprises some of the deadliest elements of the Far Left – NGO variety. There is a case to be made for how Rahul Gandhi is adhering to their breaking-India script, a key ingredient of which is a relentless offensive against the RSS. 

But this time around, Rahul Gandhi has touched a dangerous new nadir when he openly invited foreign powers to intervene in India’s politics. Some commentators have interpreted this as a call for regime change. But even this is neither new nor terribly original. 

In 2002, a group of Left academics and activists flew to the US to “depose” before the evangelical government body, the USCIRF, about the Gujarat riots. In a “hearing” titled “COMMUNAL VIOLENCE IN GUJARAT, INDIA AND THE U.S. RESPONSE” on June 10, 2002, Kamal Mitra Chenoy — a Professor at JNU who had also briefly flirted with the Aam Aadmi Party — requested the American government to politically intervene in India. Also present at the “hearing” were Teesta Setalvad and Father Cedric Prakash.   

Rahul Gandhi is thus adhering to this same old script, echoing this breaking-India crew because they have become his guides. And India as an independent, sovereign nation, cannot dismiss or take this lightly. This is no Javed Akhtar-style cheap, filmy dialogue like the nafrat ki bazar mein pyar ki dukaan charade. Remember: Rahul Gandhi genuinely aspires to become India’s Prime Minister no matter the method or the cost. 

The author is the founder and chief editor, The Dharma Dispatch. Views expressed are personal.

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