Government on the Anvil
1. No Linguistic States - While speaking on the Andhra State Bill in the Council of States on 2/9/1953 BRA said that linguistic states would lead to the disintegration of India. He blamed the Home Minister for having made no special provisions in the Bill to safeguard the rights of the SC against the tyranny of the majority. On another point he was blamed for having drafted the Constitution without some provisions to which BRA said, ‘I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody. If our people want to carry on, they must remember that the majorities just cannot ignore the minorities by saying: Oh no, to recognize you is to harm democracy’. I should say that the greatest harm would come by injuring minorities. Criticizing BRA’s plea for more safeguard for minorities, P Kodanda Rao said: ‘it was very sad that our modern day Manu should style himself as an untouchable’. Some likened BRA to a mother who denounced her own child and invited all & sundry to tear it from limb to limb.
BRA criticized the Govt for resorting to Art 356 of the Constitution to continue with President’s rule in Pepsu. In the same speech he attacked the govt for making two Chief Ministers i.e. Rajagopalachari who was a member of the Legislature Council & Morarji Desai who had been defeated in the general elections. He decried their promotion as two instances of the most violent attacks on the Constitution by the Govt.
Speaking on the Estate Duty Bill on 18/9/1953 in the Council of States, he warned the govt that revenue from estate duty might not commensurate with the cost of collection & administration. He added that India should not blindly follow Europe, what was good for Europe could not be good for India. The bitter attacks by BRA on the govt had the desired effect. In end 1953 a Bill titled ‘The Untouchability (Offenses) Act 1953 was published and later introduced in March 1954. The bill aimed at rooting out untouchability & the practice would be punished with jail etc.
2. BRA on Foreign Policy - BRA’s health again deteriorated, although bedridden he performed the inaugural ceremony of Atre Pictures Marathi offering ‘Mahatma Phooley’ in January 1954. In April he decided to contest the Bhandara Lok Sabha seat. He said that because the country was going to ruins he was fighting the election so that he might give people another point of view from the Opposition. He made a frontal attack on the Nehru govt and Nehru’s leadership. He said that Nehru’s foreign policy had made India a friendless country, that Nehru had bungled on the Kashmir issue - sheltered dishonest men & that India was encircled by a kind of United States of Islam on one side & Russia/China on the other for conquest of Asia to bring it under communism. ‘If you want to be effective,’ BRA added, ‘then you must have guns & not mere soft speech’. BRA lost the election by 8,381 votes to a Congress Harijan candidate.
BRA criticized Russia in the Rajya Sabha. U.S.A. & Britian were planning SEATO to prevent Russia & China from making further aggression & occupying any further part of the world. According to BRA SEATO was not an organization for committing aggression on any country, but was purely defensive in nature. Repugnance to SEATO, he added, seemed to flow from some sort of estrangement between Nehru & U S A and fear of what Russia would think if India joined SEATO. He drew attention that India had been completely encircled on one side by Pakistan & other Muslim countries & on the other side by allowing China to take possession of Lhasa.
Nehru BRA proceeded, should not depend upon the Pancsheel accepted by Mao and recorded in the Tibet treaty of non-aggression. If Mao had any faith in Panchsheel, which was the essential part of Buddhism he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his country in a very different way. ‘The keynote of our foreign policy’, he bitingly remarked, ‘is to solve the problems of other countries & not to solve the problems of our own country’.
3. Safeguarding Constitution/Personal Philosophy - September 1954 BRA attacked the govt policy towards the Untouchables & the attitude of the caste Hindus. He was opposed to the amendment of the constitution every Saturday & made a fervent plea for reimposition of the salt tax & creation of Gandhi Trust Fund for uplift of Untouchables.
It seems BRA was making amends for his provoked outburst against the constitution. So whenever the Govt laid its hands on it, he availed himself of every opportunity to retrieve his position & defend its stability / sanctity. At this juncture the govt moved the 3rd Amendment Bill seeking to alter an item in the legislative lists in the 7th Schedule. The Bill sought to give legal powers to the Commerce & Industry Ministry to control production. BRA carpingly criticized the manner in which the Govt was amending the Constitution from time to time without any mandate from the people. It was four years & some months old, but within that period it had been amended twice and this was the third amendment. He wanted the govt to realize, he growled, the essential difference between the constitution & law. They should treat the Constitution in a more respectful manner. This time BRA’s stand was upheld by leading newspapers in the country.
On 3/10/1954, the All India Radio broadcast a speech of BRA titled ‘My Personal Philosophy’. ‘Every man should have a philosophy of life, for everyone must have a standard by which to measure his conduct. Negatively I reject the Hindu social philosophy propounded in the Geeta & which had made the caste system & system of graded inequality the law of Hindu social life. Positively, my social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality & fraternity. My philosophy is not borrowed has roots in religion not political science. I have derived them from the teachings of Buddha. Law is secular which anybody may break while fraternity or religion is sacred which everybody must respect. My philosophy had a mission. I have to do the work of conversion, for I have to make followers of the Triguna theory give it up & accept mine. Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideals as set out in the preamble to the Constitution affirm a life of liberty, equality & fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them’. He profoundly believed that what was political ideal for most Indians would become a social ideal for all.