ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: The Congress and the Country.

Weekly Note from Volume X, No 3, January 18, 1958.

Every time the Congress meets, specially in its plenary session, the question arises in the minds of everybody, except of course in those of the high-ups in the Congress Camp and the members of the Government, what exactly is the relation between the Congress as a party and the Congress Government, and that between either and the country and its people. The habit of identifying the Congress with the people or rather whatever that is best and progressive in them, has hardened into a habit with all the high-ups in the Congress to such an extent that one has to be thankful to Pandit Nehru when he graciously concedes that the language controversy in the country is not really ‘acrimonious’ as stated in the resolution on the subject presented to the Steering Committee but that it was merely unfortunate. The resolution marks an advance in that it accepts that “the approach has to be flexible and practical and should be made by general consensus of opinion”. The proviso, “by general consensus of opinion”, however, does not really mean what it says. For the assumption is that the adoption of Hindi by 1965 as the official language was also by general consensus of opinion since it was passed by the Constituent Assembly. The provision in the Constitution cannot be touched, notwithstanding Pandit Nehru’s elaboration that decisions on the language question should be widely accepted, that is to say, there should not be majority decisions imposed on a minority. That is to say, such decisions should be only arrived at by “general consensus of opinion”. On the broader question of Party and Government, which is a perpetual puzzle, there was a sharp rebuke from Pandit Nehru that the Congress could not send direct ives to Government every now and then. Though the immediate occasion for this outburst was the discussion on the language question, which was already being considered by a Parliamentary Committee, one could see its relevance in the economic resolutions, particularly in the most important of these, viz, the one relating to land reform and food production.

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