PANAJI (Goa, India): Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Wednesday stirred a controversy by stating that India and Pakistan would have remained united had Jinnah become the Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru. He even called Nehru “self-centered”.
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama being welcomed at an event at the Goa Institute of Management in Goa’s Sankhalim town on Wednesday.
In an interaction at the Goa Institute of Management, the spiritual leader said, “Look at India, Mahatma Gandhi wanted Prime Ministership to go to Jinnah but Nehru refused to agree. I think Pandit Nehru was a little self-centered.”
He further said, “If Mahatma Gandhi’s wish had materialised then India and Pakistan would have been united.” Holding Nehru responsible for the partition, the Dalai Lama said, “I know Pandit Nehru very well, he was a very experienced person, very wise but sometimes mistake also happens.”
Tibetan spiritual leader said Jawaharlal Nehru had a “self-centred attitude” to become India’s first prime minister even though Mahatma Gandhi was in favour of Muhammad Ali Jinnah taking the top post at that time. He also claimed India’s partition would not have happened if Mahatma Gandhi’s wish of Jinnah becoming the prime minister had materialised.
The 83-year-old monk was addressing an event at the Goa Institute of Management in Goa’s Sankhalim town, located about 40 km from Panaji.
Responding to a student’s question on taking right decisions, he said, “I feel democratic systems are very good than the feudal system, which gives power of making decisions in the hands of a few people, which is more dangerous.”
“Now look at India. I think Mahatma Gandhiji was very much willing to give the prime ministership to Jinnah. But Pandit Nehru refused,” he said adding “I think it was a little bit self-centred attitude of Pandit Nehru that he should be the prime minister… Mahatma Gandhiji’s thinking, if it had materialised, then India, Pakistan would have been united,” he said.
“So Pandit Nehru, I know very well, (was) very experienced person, very wise but sometimes mistake also happens,” he said.
To a question on the biggest fear that he encountered in life, the spiritual leader recalled the day he had to escape from Tibet along with his supporters. “On the night of March 17, 1959, after 10th March crisis which was result of the problem that started in 1956, we had to escape,” he said.
Recalling how the problem in Tibet with China had started becoming worse, he said the attitude of Chinese officers kept on being more and more aggressive. “So then on 17th night, in spite of all my efforts to cool down the situation, that very day, I decided that I cannot remain here and I escaped. (In the) meantime, the feeling whether I will see tomorrow or not topped my mind,” he added.
The monk said the route from where they escaped was quite near the Chinese military base. While passing along a river they could see the military personnel, he said narrating his journey from the neighbouring country into India.
“So we were completely quiet. But we cannot control the noise of horses’ feet. We really felt scared,” he said.
He said next day at the dawn, they were passing through a mountain and there was “every danger” of Chinese soldiers coming from two different places to stop them. “That was a fearful journey.”
“At the age of 16, I lost my freedom. At the age of 24, I lost my country. For 17 years, there was lot of suffering and lot of destruction in the country, but we kept our determination,” the Dalai Lama said.
He said the China’s power is its military force. “We can say from the barrel of gun. Our strength is truth. Temporarily, the power of gun is more decisive but in the long run, the power of truth is much more stronger than the power of gun,” he said.
The monk said Tibetans never consider Chinese people as their enemy. “We respect them. We always look at them as our human brothers and sisters,” he added.
Reacting to the Dalai Lama’s comments, BJP senior leader Subramanian Swamy said that the Dalai Lama should have spoken about this before and it did not hold much value now.
Swamy said, “These are historical issues and hold value for historical debates. Yes, it is true that Mahatma Gandhi wanted Jinnah to be the Prime Minister as he would have been a minority Prime Minister and he could be removed once the British were gone. But it is also true that Jawaharlal Nehru only thought about himself. Gandhi was only thinking of how the British could be removed. But these are now academic questions and hardly make sense to discuss now.”