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148. Rebuke to a Journalistic 'Son'
An occasion when the Mahatma was greatly upset and felt called upon severely to castigate a member of the journalistic profession was when the Free Press Journal, edited by Shri S. Sadanand, wrote in its issue of 12th July 1944, with reference to the new formula submitted by Shri G. Rajagopalachari to Mr. M. A. Jinnah for a Congress-League "rapprochement", that Gandhiji had been 'misled' by Shri Rajagopalachari and others surrounding him. Gandhiji privately remonstrated with the editor against the baseless insinuation and the latter offered some sort of apology to Gandhiji, but apparently it did not satisfy Gandhiji, for he wrote as follows to Shri Sadanand on 13th July:
My dear Sadanand,
Your wire. Though this reply is to you as a journalist and for publication, the manner of my reply will be on the basis of your claim to be my son, a claim which you have often repeated.
You have verbally accepted my amends but in action rejected them. Re-read the opening parts of your telegrams and you will understand my meaning. If you do, you will make a public acknowledgement of the offence you have given me even in the act of accepting amends.
As a pleasing contrast to this, I may tell you that the four reporters whom I had the pleasure of meeting yesterday were graceful enough to accept my amends and to understand fully its implication.
I have a categorical reply for every one of the questions you have asked me. But I very much fear that they are not sincere but meant to advertise your bravery, and newspaper propaganda of an unworthy type.
I have read with much pain your writings in your issue of 12-7-'44. They caption a wicked attack upon Rajaji and milder one on esteemed public men. You are doing a great injustice to yourself and shaming your nationalism by attacking Rajaji, who, to my knowledge, has no axe to grind, has forsaken everything for love of his country and has risked popularity in pursuing the dictates of his conscience. Let me tell you that Rajaji has not discussed his politics with me. My dissent from his politics, as I understand him in jail, continues.
Now that I have been involuntarily and prematurely drawn into political controversy I shall certainly discuss them with him as I am doing with respect in spite of wide political divergence.
Courtesy towards opponents and eagerness to under­stand their view-points is the A B C of non-violence. But, you of all persons should know that they are not likely to deflect me from the straight and narrow path I have chosen to tread. They can but strengthen me in my resolve to follow it, never weaken me.
And I should be an utterly unworthy leader or exponent of non-violence if I could be led astray by emi­nent leaders or Constant companions like Rajaji.
In a way the honest mistake made by Mr. Gelder, as his premature publication of an abridgement of the notes of interviews with him appears to have been, is a blessing in that the country once again has an opportunity of knowing the measure of my compromising nature. I have no reason to be ashamed of it, and I have never considered a sign of weakness in me but strength.
If you will prove a worthy son of mine, you will revise the whole of your policy and use your journalistic gifts so as to serve the country by the way of truth and non-violence.
You have had a fair portion of material goods out of your journalistic venture. Now dare to be poor, if need be, and instead of feeding the public on sensationalism, give them nothing but solid gold. And, if you do not know how to do so, accept a humbler vocation. You will then at least have the credit of ceasing to do mischief.
I hope that you will publish this without alteration.
Yours sincerely,
(Sd.) M. K. Gandhi
On July 14, the following telegram was sent to Mahatma Gandhi, at Panchgani:
Your letter. Sadanand now at Delhi. Returning latest "Tuesday. Will then attend. — Frejournal.
Gandhiji replied:
Dilkhush, Panchgani,
Dear Editor-in-Charge,
I have your wire. My letter to Shri Sadanand is a public reply to a public question and is meant for publi­cation. The proper thing was to have waited for my reply "before publishing the complaint against me. Delay appears to me to be suspicious.
If Shri Sadanand is away, and if direction is considered necessary, in a matter of ordinary course, you have means of taking directions by 'phone'.
Yours sincerely,
(Sd.) M. K. Gandhi
Gandhiji's letter to Shri Sadanand was at last published in the issue of the Free Press Journal of 19th July 1944 with the following "in explanation' from the pen of Shri Sadanand:
Bombay, July 18, 1944
Gandhiji's letter to me dated July 13, the telegram to Gandhiji dated July 14 and Gandhiji's reply dated July 15, are published in these columns.
There could not be an earlier publication, as I returned from Delhi only this (18th) afternoon.
Gandhiji has honoured me by recalling my allegiance to him, as a son. I claim to be true to that allegiance, even today.
It is within Gandhiji's knowledge, that, according to my concept a son may not defend himself against parental chastisement.
I see no reason to break the golden rule on this occasion.
(Sd.) S. Sadanand