‘It is unfair to judge Nehru on Kashmir’ – Shashi Tharoor

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Photo: Paromita Chatterjee
Photo: Paromita Chatterjee

There are many who think that the ascent of the NDA government signalled the end of Nehru era. What is your take on that?

It is clear that the present government is anxious to repudiate Nehru and what he stood for. But this is not easy because Indian society and institutions retain the legacy of the Nehruvian era.

During the first NDA government also such a fear had arisen, which later vanished. In many ways Vajpayee himself was a Nehruvian. Narendra Modi is clearly not, though he has not dramatically moved away from Nehruvian policies.

However, the instincts of the BJP leadership are the opposite of what Nehru stood for. Nehru was a democrat while the BJP has been centralising power in an alarming way. Nehru was a secularist while the BJP has been promoting a certain level of intolerance in our country.

You wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister for not suitably commemorating Jawaharlal Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary.

I think the BJP’s argument is that it is not the individual but the ideology they are standing against. As far as 125th anniversary is concerned, that was childish. We should celebrate our national icons irrespective of politics. Once you have passed into history, you ought to be beyond politics.


“The moment we overcome one nuclearholocaust threat comes another. It reminds me of the importance of Nehru’s initiatives in the nonaligned movement. ”

Kushal Poddar | Author, Social Activist, Lawyer, Kolkata


I would hope that the 100th birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee would be celebrated with respect by all parties, even if we are in power then.