New Delhi: At a time when Jawaharlal Nehru`s contribution is being brought into question, an authority on him said on Saturday that India`s first prime minister was "one of world`s greatest visionaries".
"I would argue that Nehru was one of the world`s and this country`s greatest visionaries, at a time when the world was changing rapidly and radically...," Prof Judith M Brown said.
She was delivering the 45th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture `From prison to Teen Murti: The making of a Prime Minister`. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is the Chairperson of Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, welcomed her.
Nehru, she said, had an acute intellect and a leaping idealism and he followed where these took him "even if that meant that Teen Murti so often seemed to become for him another sort of prison....".
She also said "another institution which contributed to Nehru`s sense of imprisonment as Prime Minister was the Congress party itself."
Congress, she said, had developed a particular character as a result of its place as the major party of nationalist opposition to the imperial regime before 1947.
Noting that in the early 1950s, Congress was often been called an "umbrella party" sheltering many different attitudes and interests, she said these surfaced in factional divisions and in opposition to radical policies.
This in turn made the party so much less of a tool for change that Nehru and Gandhi had hoped for in their different ways.
"Nehru`s anguish at the nature of the party suggests that it, too, was one of the bars which made Teen Murti seem as much a prison as the imperial jail had been," she said.