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Thursday, March 17, 2022

honest astute Gulzarilal Nanda !

This story purportedly about the man who occupied the seat of Indian Prime Minister is going in circles and most likely that you would have read as a WA forward or somewhere else in social media :“ A 94-year-old man was thrown out of a rented house by the landlord for not paying the rent. The old man had hardly any belongings except an old bed, some aluminum utensils, a plastic bucket and a mug etc. The old man requested the owner to give him some time to pay the rent. The neighbors also took pity on the old man, and they convinced the landlord to give him some time to pay the rent. The landlord reluctantly gave him some time to pay the rent.The old man took his belongings inside.”  .. . .. .. pathetic !! 

The man Nanda was in Ahmedabad, together with Anusuya Sarabhai, of the famous Sarabhai family, formed the Majoor Mahajan, believed to be the country's oldest labour organisation. His political activities led to internment in various jails. Just before he went to Dhulia Jail in 1931, Nanda promised the 10-year-old Pushpaben a wristwatch if she came first in class. Taking him at his word, says Pushpaben: "When I demanded my gift from him, Jamnalal Bajaj, who was his jailmate, jokingly came up with a ghada (a water pitcher) instead of a ghadi (watch)." When Nanda was Union home minister in the early '60s, he set up a special cell to lodge complaints against corrupt officials and politicians. He came under pressure to wind up the cell but didn't yield. Subsequently, a riot in Delhi - which he later discovered was engineered - led him to resign.


Gulzarilal Nanda (1898 – 1998) who was active in politics was an economist who specialized in labour issues. He was the Interim Prime Minister of India for two 13-day stints following the deaths of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964 and Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966. Both his terms ended after the ruling Indian National Congress's parliamentary party elected a new prime minister. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 1997. 

Nanda worked as a research scholar on labour problems at Allahabad University (1920–1921), and later a professor of economics at National College in Bombay.  The same year, he joined the Indian Non-Cooperation Movement against the British Raj. In 1922, he became secretary of the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association where he worked until 1946. He was imprisoned for Satyagraha in 1932, and again from 1942 to 1944.Nanda was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1957 elections, and was appointed Union Minister for Labour, Employment and Planning, and later, as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. He visited the Federal Republic of Germany, Yugoslavia, and Austria in 1959.  He was reelected to LS in 1962   from the Sabarkantha constituency in Gujarat.  He was Union Minister for Labour and Employment in 1962–1963, and Minister for Home Affairs in 1963–1966. He won again in 1967 & 1971.    

When the office of PM became empty following the death of existing Prime Ministers in 1964 & 1966 (Nehru & Lal Bahadur Shastri) – being the Home Minister, he was the Interim PM – a strategic period after war with China and Pakistan.   

On 15th Jan 1998 at ripe age of 99, Gulzarilal Nanda died in Ahmedabad at his daughter Dr Pushpaben Naik's home after a prolonged illness. He had been bedridden for sometime.  In 1971, when Indira Gandhi returned to power with a huge majority, he retired from politics, saying he found himself "out of tune" with the changed circumstances, and took to social and religious work. In later years, he guided the activities of the Navjeevan Sangh and the Manav Dharm mission, two organisations founded by him. 

What set Nanda apart from almost all the freedom fighters who held high offices in independent India was his complete freedom from material desire. He had no source of income and would not accept money from his children or from well-wishers. He had to be forced to sign an application for the freedom fighters pension of Rs 500 per month.  However, Nanda was ousted from the ashram and dairy farm he had nurtured in Kaithal in Haryana by people he trusted. He stayed in a rented house in New Delhi's Defence Colony in his old age,   then moved to Ahmedabad where he stayed with his daughter. 

His legal heirs were to face  trial in a city court after the Delhi high court (HC) dismissed  their petition seeking direction in a dispute over property in a posh South Delhi colony.Nanda had  entered into an agreement with Tej Singh of Greater Kailash in 1979 to sell his C-23, Chirag Enclave, property. As per the agreement, Nanda and son NG Nanda were to fulfill all requirements within a certain period. But they delayed the sale deed, forcing Tej to file a civil suit.During the suit’s pendency, Tej died, leaving son Gurbaksh to contest it. Nanda died on January 15, 1998. In the meantime, the case was transferred to another court and was listed for hearing on May 6, 2004. Unaware of the transfer, Gurbaksh could not appear before it.Interestingly, Nanda’s counsel told the court about his death after six years, resulting in dismissal of the suit on October 26, 2004. 

The case had gone on from 1998 to 2004 with the impression that Nanda was alive. Shocked by the revelation, Gurbaksh filed an application pleading for restoration of the suit. He said Nanda’s wife Laxmi should be brought on record to contest it. But the trial court dismissed the plea for delay.Dissatisfied, Gurbaksh moved HC in 2008, saying the delay was because Nanda’s counsel had kept information from him. HC then directed Nanda’s son and wife to contest the suit. But they filed a review petition that was dismissed by a division bench on Monday.  

Before concluding, read and know of this historical fact too :  On 7th Nov 1966, a   group of Hindu protestors, led by ascetics, naga sadhus and backed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jan Sangh approached the Indian Parliament seeking legislation to criminalize cow slaughter. It was the culmination of a long-term movement by the Hindu Right to protect the cow. Thousands of sadhus marched to Parliament in support seeking such legislation.   

As the sadhus were on hunger strike, Mrs Gandhi in a political move, initiated a Parliamentary committee   to analyze the feasibility of imposing a ban on cow slaughter. The front was consistently outvoted, the nominees eventually resigned, the committee never produced a report, and the politicians successfully shifted the focus of national politics away from the issue.  On that fateful day of Nov 7 1966, a very big group of sadhus tried entering the Parliament but were ruthlessly handled.  More than 8 people died – hundreds were injured.  PM Mrs Indira Gandhi removed Gulzarilal Nanda as Home Minister.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Mar 2022. 


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