Delhi: Stories and anecdotes about India's first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru have been doing the rounds over the years.
One such anecdote was told recently by Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava, whose grandfather, Virendra or Vir ji, was a revolutionary who fought the freedom struggle alongside Bhagat Singh.
In a blog, published in The Indian Express, she narrates an interesting story about how her grandfather confronted Nehru on rumours of his remarriage and how India's first PM reacted:
Read excerpts of the blog below -
The year was 1935, my grandfather Virendra or Vir ji as everyone knew him, was working at the family newspaper Pratap in Lahore when he first got acquainted with Jawahar Lal Nehru. The leader was in Badenweiler, Germany for his ailing wife Kamla’s treatment.
Nehru returned to India the following year after his wife’s death. It was then my grandfather met him at Anand Bhavan in Allahabad to convince him to campaign in Punjab. “Impossible” was Nehru’s prompt response, “Congress will not be able to get a majority even if I spend a whole month there”. Finally, he agreed. “I can give you two days, but can you arrange an aircraft?” It was 1936, a plane was rented and used in election campaigning in India for the first time.
As soon as Pitaji left Allahabad, he heard strong rumours of Nehru re-marrying. No journalist would want a scoop like that to slip away, so my grandfather bravely sent a telegram. “Our Allahabad correspondent informs us that you are about to re-marry. Please confirm”. “Fantastic nonsense”, came the reply.
Pitaji campaigned with Nehru and remembered how the Sialkot airport was packed with British folks who were “curious to see this khadi clad man creating serious problems for their government..."
...The next time they met was after Nehru had been arrested and turned back from the Kashmir border by the Maharaja’s government. He decided to go around Lahore in an open convertible for a show of strength. Pitaji was one of barely a handful of people who had such a car, a German Adler that is no longer in the market, and drove him personally...
...On the way they saw a house lit up for a marriage and Nehru asked Pitaji, “What is that?” My grandfather replied that someone was probably getting married. “I was also married on a Basant day” saying that, Nehru stayed silent for the rest of the journey. They met many times afterwards and it was not always work. Once a little under the weather, Nehru complained how ‘they have imprisoned me here’ and asked my grandfather to drive him around for some fresh air.
It was dark, he was anonymous and they sat by the banks of a canal for several hours. When they returned home Nehru thanked him saying, “I was able to relax in such a peaceful atmosphere after a long time. Otherwise people never leave me alone...”