The Socialist Party which has joined hands with Congress Party for the coming Uttar Pradesh elections claims to follow Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, one of the most brilliant politicians India had ever produced.
And what his ‘followers’ did would have made him turn in his grave. As a cub reporter more than 55 years ago I met ‘Doctorsaheb’ as he was called by all who knew him well.
The founder editor of the daily I had joined in 1957 at the age of 17 was with Lohia, Nehru and Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) in jail during freedom struggle. There they formed the Congress Socialist Party, which later broke away.(Mentioned in my book ‘A TOWN CALLED PENURY -the Changing Culture of Indian Journalism’).
So when ‘Doctorsaheb’ was in town in early 1960s, the editor’s car and myself were kept at his disposal to take him wherever he wanted.
Though one of the best writers of English in Indian politics then (see his many books like ‘Interval During Politics’ and ‘Wheel of History‘), he refused to speak in that language as “the common man did not understand it.” However, he used to dictate some statements in English to me (perhaps thinking I was a kid and may commit mistakes in translating).
When he advocated an alliance with the Jana Sangh (the earlier Avatar of BJP) in the 1960s, I questioned if it was a right move. He was angry first but cooled down and told me, “Congress is like a huge boulder. I am hitting my head on it in the hope of causing just a crack in it. Such an alliance alone can achieve that.”
Dr Lohia felt Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru had a single-point agenda – to grab power , for power’s sake and keeping it. He felt it must be fought collectively. Thus Dr Lohia is the father of coalition politics in India.
Dr Lohia, who did his Ph.D in Germany during the British rule on Gandhiji’s Salt Satyagraha, was a Calcutta Marwari who was never interested in power or making money. When he returned from Germany and landed in Madras (now Chennai) he did not have money for train fare to Calcutta (now Kolkata). So he walked into The Hindu newspaper office, introduced himself, asked how much they paid per 1000 words of an article, wrote one on their typewriter just long enough to pay his fare, got paid immediately and left.
And his so-called followers have an alliance with Congress just to remain in power!
It is like starting a ‘Mahatma Gandhi Slaughterhouse’ to ‘honour’ the apostle of non-violence and vegetarianism.