The Indian National Congress
Decay Of Congress
THE CONGRESS will die a natural and deserved death if and when it substitutes reason and when it substitutes reason and moral influence by GOONDAISM. (H, 18-6-1938, p.149)
All that is wanted is the will to clear the Congress of Augean stables. But if the heads of Congress committees are indifferent or supine, the corruption cannot be dealt with." If the salt loses its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" (H, 22-10-1938, p. 299)
Rome's decline began long before it fell. The Congress, which has been nursed for over fifty years by the best brains of the country, will not fall at all, if the corruption is handled in time. (H, 28-1-1939, p. 444)
Congress And Nonviolence
The congress influence can be effectively exercised only if it retains its non-violence. Its only capital is its moral authority. Any other position may lead to internecine feud and bloodshed. (H, 29-7-1939, p.218)
To take the name of non-violence when there is the sword in your heart is not only hypocritical and dishonest but cowardly. Our non-violence VIS-A VIS the British Government has been the non-violence of the weak. Otherwise, why should there be all these wrangles among ourselves?
There is nothing more demoralizing than fake non-violence of the weak and impotent. If we had the requisite non-violence in us, our public life would be characterized by utmost toleration. There will then be room for as many parties as there are opinions. Differences of opinion would be an indication of healthy independence of mind which is the law of life, not party intrigues and party strife. The latter are incompatible with independence. (H, 6-10-1946, p. 338)
The congress will cease to be popular if it cannot deserve popularity in times of stress. If it cannot provide work for the workless and hungry, I it cannot protect the people from depredations or teach them how to face them, if it cannot help them in the face of danger, it will lose its prestige and popularity. (H, 18-1-1942, p. 4)
There can be only one party in the Congress, i.e., that of congressmen and no other. That is not to say that there is no room in the Congress for individuals or groups holding different opinions. I do not believe in dead uniformity. "All men are born equal and free" is not Nature's law in the literal sense. All men are born equal in intellect, for instance, but the doctrine of equality will be vindicated if those who have superior intellect will use it not for self-advancement at the expense of others, but for the service of those who are less favoured in that respect than they. Today there are all sorts in the Congress .. (H, 6-10-1946, p. 338)
With the advent of power, Congressmen have begun to think that everything belongs to them. In a way it is true. But this does not imply that all sense of discipline should be thrown to t he winds. Discipline and true humility should be a matter of pride for Congressmen. (H, 1-6-1947, p. 176)
The Congress shall be above party intrigues and be a symbol of unity and service of the whole of India. (ibid, p. 175)
Goal Of Poorna Swaraj
The Indian National Congress, which is the oldest national political organization and which has after many battles fought her non-violent way to freedom, cannot be allowed to die. It can only die with the nation. A living organism ever grows or it dies. The Congress has won political freedom, but it has yet to win economic freedom, social and moral freedom. These freedoms are harder than the political, if only because they are constructive, less exciting and not spectacular. All-embracing constructive work evokes the energy of all the units of the millions.
The Congress has got the preliminary and necessary part of her freedom. The hardest has yet to come. In its difficult ascent to democracy, it has inevitably created rotten boroughs leading to corruption and creation of institutions, popular and democratic only in name. How to get out of the weedy and unwieldy growth?
The Congress must do away with its special register of members, at no time exceeding one cores, not even then easily identifiable. It had an unknown register of millions who could never be wanted. Its register should now be co-extensive with all the men and women on the voters' rolls in the country. The Congress business should be to see that no faked name gets in and no legitimate name is left out. On its own register it will have a body of servants of the nation who would be workers doing the work allotted to them from time to time.
Unfortunately for the country, they will be drawn chiefly, for the time being, from the city dwellers, most of whom would be required to work for and in the villages of India. The ranks must be filled in increasing numbers from villagers.
Servants Of The People
These servants will be expected to operate upon and serve the voters registered according to law in their own surroundings. Many persons and parties will woo them. The very best will win. Thus and in no other way can the Congress regain its fast ebbing, unique position in the country. But yesterday the Congress was unwittingly the servant of the nation, it was KHUDA-I -KHIDMATGAR-God's servant. Let it now proclaim to itself and the world that it is only God's servant-nothing more, nothing less. If it engages in the ungainly skirmish for power, it will find one fine morning that it is no more. Thank God, it is now no longer in sole possession of the field. (H, 1-2-1948, p. 4)
Lok Sevak Sangh*
Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means provided by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India's progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the A. I. C .C. resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh under the following rules, with power to alter them as occasion may demand. (*Gandhiji's idea of a transformed Congress was published in Harijan under the title "His Last Will and Testament".)
Every Panchayat of five adult men or women being villagers or village-minded shall form a unit.
Two such contiguous Panchayat shall form a working party under a leader elected from among themselves. When there are one hundred such Panchayat, the fifty grade leaders shall elect from among themselves a second grade leader and so on, the first grade leaders meanwhile working under the second grade leader. parallel groups of two hundred Panchayats shall continue to be formed till they cover the whole of India, each succeeding group of Panchayats electing second grade leader after the manner of the first. All second grade leaders shall serve jointly for the whole of India and severally for their respective areas. The second grade leaders may elect, whenever they deem necessary, from among themselves a chief who will, during pleasure, regulate and command all the groups.
(As the final formation of provinces or districts is still in a state of flux, no attempt has been made to divide this group of servants into Provincial or District Councils and jurisdiction over the whole of India has been vested in the group or groups that may have been formed at any given time. It should be noted that this body of servants derive their authority or power from service ungrudgingly and wisely done to their master, the whole of India.)
Qualifications Of Workers
Every worker shall be a habitual wearer of Khadi made from self-spun yarn or certified by the A. I. S. A., and must be a teetotaler. If a Hindu, he must have abjured untouchability in any shape or form in his own person or in his family and must be a believer in the ideal of inter-communal unity, equal respect and regard for all religions and equality of opportunity and status for all irrespective or race, creed or sex. He shall come in personal contact with every villager within his jurisdiction. He shall enroll and train workers from amongst the villagers and shall keep a register of all these. He shall keep a record of his work from day to day. He shall organize the villagers so as to make them self-contained and self-supporting through their agriculture and handicrafts. He shall educate the village folk in sanitation and hygiene and take all measures for prevention of ill health and disease among them. He shall organize the education to he village folk from birth to death along the lines NAYI TALIM, in accordance with the policy laid down by the Hindustani Talimi Sangh. He shall see that those whose names are missing on the statutory voters' roll are duly entered therein. He shall encourage those who have not yet acquired the legal qualification to acquire it for getting the right of franchise. For the above purposes and others to be added from time to time, he shall train and fit himself in accordance with the rules laid down by the Sangh for the due performance of duty.
The Sangh shall affiliate the following autonomous bodies: A.I.S.A., A.I.V.I.A., Hindustani Talimi Sangh, Harijan Sevak Sangh, Goseva Sangh.
The Sangh shall raise finances for the fulfillment of its mission from among the villagers and others, special stress being laid on the collection of poor man's pice. (H 15-2-1948, p. 32)