Yesterday on November 14, 2018, political parties across the nation were remembering India’s first and the longest serving Prime Minister-Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his 129th birth anniversary. The Congress party tweeted, “India’s first and the longest serving Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru dedicated his life to the nation. He laid the foundations of strong democratic institutions which shaped our modern day democracy. Today we honour the man & the legacy.”
India's first and the longest serving Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru dedicated his life to the nation. He laid the foundations of strong democratic institutions which shaped our modern day democracy. Today we honour the man & the legacy. #RememberingNehru pic.twitter.com/O7AxiOFlGp
— Congress (@INCIndia) November 14, 2018
Among Nehru’s other illustrious legacies which the subsequent Congress leaders, especially his own family members, religiously followed are the number of scams and crony capitalism which flourished under his rule. Nehru’s rule was marred with many scams. To begin with, just as India became independent and even before India became a republic, the plundering of the nation through scams was started by the Congress under the tutelage of Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Jeep Scam–
It was the first ever scam of Independent India pioneered under Jawaharlal Nehru. At the centre of the Jeep scam was the then Indian High Commissioner to the UK and a favourite of PM Nehru, V K Krishna Menon who later was even made the Defence Minister. Backed by the PMO, Menon bypassed the code of procedure and inked a Rs. 80 lakh contract with a foreign firm for the supply of 200 jeeps for the Indian army. Despite paying the contract money upfront, only 155 jeeps arrived. Nehru not only ended the probe abruptly but also made V K Krishna Menon the Defence Minister.
Haridas Mundhra Scandal-
On December 16, 1957, Nehru’s son-in-law, Feroze Gandhi exposed the then Congress Finance Minister TT Krishnamachari who had allowed the state-owned LIC to invest Rs 1.26 crore in enterprises related to Haridas Mundhra, Calcutta-based Stock Speculator for his own interest and in order to use it as a tool to help himself in manipulating the stock markets. Eventually, Haridas Mundhra scandal led to the resignation of TT Krishnamachari. This scandal was a huge setback to the clean image of Nehru’s government.
Feroze Gandhi’s popularity also rose and he got the title of ‘Giant Killer. Jawaharlal Nehru was completely helpless as one his favourites was destroyed and that too by his own son-in-law. The scandal also went on to expose Pandit Nehru. He delivered long speeches on anti-corruption but remained completely blind when it came to curb the corruption of his own government. It showed how complacent Nehru was about fighting the corruption. It was being said that Nehru was soft on corruption carried out by his close friends.
Pratap Singh Kairon Scam-
Feroze Gandhi opposed the candidature of Pratap Singh Kairon as CM of Punjab because he and his family were facing serious allegations of corruption. Feroze Gandhi accused Kairon of being in partnership with smugglers and worse. According to a Inuth report, “What explanation is there”, Gandhi would demand: “when a person with six previous convictions to his credit…had the daring to appear before a court of law and file an affidavit to the effect that the Chief Minister had directed the withdrawal of the case pending against him and that the order would reach the court from the Home Secretary?” But Pratap Singh Kairon was one of Nehru’s favourite so the entire party threw its weight in support for Kairon. Nehru considered the first Punjab Chief Minister, Pratap Singh Kairon, to be “A man of the people, simple in his life and devoting his great energy to the work for which he was responsible….” Four years after the sudden death of Feroze Gandhi, Kairon had to resign after he was indicted by the Das Commission in 1964 for allowing his family members to exploit his influence and powers to amass wealth. The commission concluded that “There is no getting away from the fact that S. Pratap Singh Kairon knew or had ample reason to suspect that his sons and relatives were allegedly exploiting his influence and powers… In view of his inaction in the face of the circumstances here in before alluded to, he must be held to have connived at the doings of his sons and relatives, his colleagues and the government officers.”
Teja Loan Corruption Scandal-
Shipping magnate Jayant Dharma Teja had setup Jayanti Shipping Company with paid up capital of less than Rs 200 and took government loans worth Rs 22 crore. Later on, authorities found that he was actually siphoning off money to his Liechtenstein bank account after which he left the country. He was finally arrested in London in 1970 and was also awarded with six years of sentence, but he escaped later.
Teja created an image of himself of a hugely successful NRI. There were stories about him that he worked very hard, started almost from scratch and created huge fortune on his own, and he had an urge to do something for his motherland. Since shipping was his forte, he claimed that he wanted to exponentially expand India’s puny maritime fleet. For that he asked for government’s support through investment. According to the reddif mail report, some bureaucrats, particularly in the directorate general of shipping-dubbed by Teja ‘abominable no-men’-expressed deep reservations about claims made by him. Inevitably, the matter reached to the Cabinet. Nehru told his colleagues: ‘Thoda kuch de do (Give him a little something).’ The government machinery translated this into over a crore of rupees. Teja turned out to be probably the first economic offender of India.
To quote from Bertil Falk’s book-‘Feroze, the forgotten Gandhi’– about Feroze Gandhi, “When Feroze Gandhi started to hunt corrupt businessmen and capitalists and in passing, got institutions nationalised, he stumbled upon the fact that people of the administration were involved in corrupt dealings. It soon dawned on him that even the Congress party was infected by corruption, which was at its worst there because his party was the party in power. He realised that it happened right under the very nose of his father-in-law, the prime minister.”
The Santhanam Committee (1964), investigating administrative corruption, said “Corruption has, in recent years, spread even to those levels of administration from which it was conspicuously absent in the past”. The Committee attributed the spread of corruption since independence to “The sudden extension of the economic activities of the Government with a large armoury of rules and regulations, controls, licenses and permits provided new and large opportunities. The quest for political power at different levels made successful achievement of the objective more important than the means adopted.”
Jawaharlal Nehru would be glad to know that his family members have adhered to his teachings and have only expanded upon his work. The Congress party has been indulged in serious corruption scandals and scams since long. Before Modi government came to power in 2014, the nation was reeling under corruption and loot of public money. Now, after Congress has been voted out of power, the country feels afresh and has started moving on the path of progress.