New Delhi: Launching the commemoration of 150th birth anniversary of Motilal Nehru, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said institutions evolved by leaders like him should be strengthened instead of being destroyed.
Paying rich tributes to Motilal, he listed his achievements like his role in evolving of Public Accounts Committee and protecting independence of Legislature from the influence of the Executive by establishing a separate cadre for the Central Legislative Assembly, now Parliament.
Deviating from his prepared speech, he spoke at length about the Nehru Commission Report, Motilal's role in the 1919 and 1928 sessions of the Indian National Congress and the "ideological differences" that he developed with his son Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.
"We can pay due respect to him in the 150th year if we follow his principles, respect institutions, strengthen institutions, you can achieve much more by strengthening and respecting institutions than by destroying those institutions," he said in the function attended by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and others.
Calling himself a "student of history", he said Motilal's 'Swaraj Party' acted as a "disciplined assault force" in the Legislative Assembly and he was credited with evolving the system of a Public Accounts Committee which is now one of the "most effective watchdogs" over executive in matters of money and finance.
Mukherjee also received the first set of coins and postal stamps released at the function to commemorate the event.
In her speech, Gandhi said Motilal Nehru was one of the leaders whose achievements have been "overlooked" in modern India and dwelled on his vital role in the Nehru Commission report and the draft Constitution, whose ingredients are part of India's Constitution.
Mukherjee said from 1861-1869, India produced some of the "brightest personalities" like Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Motilal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malaviya and Mahatma Gandhi who went onto become popular.
Calling Motilal an "outstanding moderate" who preferred the path of consultations and persuasion, the President said the veteran believed in liberal secularism, which he practiced and upheld with utmost conviction.
"He believed that able and persistent advocacy was sure to succeed at the bar of public opinion - just as it did at the bar of the Allahabad High Court. He believed that reforms and change should be achieved through such a medium," he said.
Though a late comer to the Gandhian methods of Satyagraha, Motilal Nehru soon became a pillar of strength in those very movements, he said.
He said the draft Constitution was, in effect, the first outline of a draft Constitution for India and noted that Motilal was greatly inspired by Gandhiji and stood steadfastly by him - right uptil his own death in 1931.
"It was always out of conviction and at times in deference to Gandhiji's 'superior judgement,' - which he acknowledged without any reservation. He even gave up his flourishing legal career to commit himself and his entire family to the national cause," he said.
Recalling that Motilal described himself as a "Constitutional Agitator", Mukherjee said this should be the maxim for every Indian.
Gandhi said Motilal's transition of leaving the life of luxury and taking to khadi was both "swift and decisive" and that he was known for his investigations into the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
On differences between Motilal and Jawaharlal, Gandhi said while the father insisted on "dominant status" for India his son gave a clarion call for "complete independence" and he was a steadfast supporter of Gandhiji.
Talking about his secular credentials, the Congress chief said in this era of extremism and violence one should take lessons from Motilal's life and emulate them.
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