T.N. Kaul's letter to Indira Gandhi

Print edition : April 03, 2015

Tehran, 28 February, 1959

My dear Indiraji,

Thank you for your letter of February 10. I entirely agree that your job is a most difficult one and it is not easy to improve things appreciably in the short period that you have at your disposal. I am, therefore, hesitant to make any suggestions, but since you have asked me not to hesitate and since you “do wish to at least establish certain trends which may later on lead the organisation in the right direction”, I venture to air some of my views for what they are worth. They are the views of an individual who, though out of India for the last 2 years, has had close contact with various political circles and is trying to look at things dispassionately from a national point of view. I am sure the views I express are nothing new and you must already be aware of them. I am, however, submitting them for your consideration only to emphasise the fact that these views are shared by a large number of young men and women of India today and unless they find an outlet under your leadership and that of your father, they may go astray in other directions.

2. I hope you will not mind my frankness in expressing these views and will let me know your reactions. I am embodying them in a separate brief note so that the authorship need not necessarily be revealed. May I assure you, in the end, that I have no personal or political ambitions of any sort, but, all the same, my services and cooperation are at your disposal in any field of activity and at any time that you can make use of them.

3. I wish you every success in your difficult post.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Shrimati Indira Gandhi,

Prime Minister’s House, New Delhi


The Congress Organisation in India today represents not one political ideology but has, among its members and leadership, people holding different ideas ranging perhaps from the extreme right to the extreme left. The main factor that is holding together this motley crowd is the leadership of Prime Minister Nehru, the challenge from other political Parties and the need for presenting a united front for the social and economic reconstruction of the country. Although many leaders and members of the Congress Party may not see eye to eye with the ideas of Nehru, they dare not oppose him openly partly because of his stature in the Party and the country and partly because they are not certain of the correctness of their own views. The leadership of Nehru is thus both a matter of strength as well as of weakness for the Congress Organisation—strength in providing some kind of unity at present and weakness because this unity is not soundly based and is bound to be shattered after Nehru.

2. Unfortunately the younger and more progressive elements in the Congress have not taken full advantage of Nehru’s leadership in strengthening their position within the Congress. They seem to rely too much on the Prime Minister and expect him to take the initiative in everything. On the other hand, the elder and more conservative elements in the Congress, while not openly opposing the Prime Minister, are exploiting his presence in the Congress and whittling down the progressive programme of this national Organization. In order to avoid the adverse effects of a split between the right and the left in the Congress Party after Nehru, it would be desirable to face the situation during the leadership of Nehru and avoid a later catastrophe. Naturally, many old bonds and personal friendships and associations in the top leadership of the Congress may be strained in finding a solution to this problem. On the other hand, it is possible that if there is a strong body of progressive opinion inside the Congress, they may, with Nehru’s help, be able to sway the “old guard” of the Congress with them. Be that as it may, the problem should be faced and faced now instead of being postponed till a later date, when the rift in the Congress may be so great that it will break up into a number of small, weak units and lose the advantage of national leadership it has at present.

3. This problem has to be tackled not only at the All India Organisational level, but, what is even more important, at the Pradesh and Mandal level. For this purpose, the President of the Congress may have to select a number of honest, reliable, selfless workers at all levels, specially in the States, to carry out the constructive, ideological programme of the Congress. A certain amount of weeding out at all levels may also be necessary. All this must be taken up immediately. Advantage should be taken of new blood and other groups who may be keen and willing to join the new Congress so vitalised. Use could be made, in particular, of the educated unemployed youths who are leaderless and aimless at present. If this is not taken up now, the Congress will gradually lose its hold on the peasants as it is losing its hold on the growing industrial labour. Considering that by the end of the Third Five Year Plan, we shall have an industrial labour population of about 15 to 20 million, the problem assumes serious proportions.

4. Then, there is the important question of selecting Congress candidates for the next General Elections. Unless thought is given to this question now, and weeding and selection started now, the whole thing will have to rushed through haphazardly at the last moment. In the selection of Congress candidates, great care should be exercised in weeding out old and useless elements and bring in new blood and those who have faith in the Congress ideology and following of their constituents. An all India Selection Committee and Pradesh Selection Committees should be formed in which the present State Government Ministries or factional leaders should have no say. Everyone should agree to abide by the selection of these Committees beforehand and those who do not give this previous approval should be weeded out now before the Selection Committees are formed. There are many persons outside the present Congress who would make excellent candidates.

5. Lastly, we must guard against certain national dangers like (i) the possible splitting up of India (ii) domination by a military or other dictatorship (iii) aligning India with one or the other power blocs in the world. For this purpose, only people with hundred per cent loyalty to India and India’s ideals should be appointed to key positions, where policy is formulated and executed, in the Congress Party and the Government. At present enough consideration does not seem to be given to this matter—either in Government or in the Party.