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Thursday, 29th January, 1948

''Let constructive workers take over''

Gandhiji was paying his best attention to the future of the Congress. On a new constitution for the organisation he was working with the closest attention. It was almost as if he was drawing up a testament with very great care.

He had talks with R. R. Diwakar, Acharya Jugal Kishore and members of the Congress''s Constitution sub-committee. Then there followed talks with Babu Rajendra Prasad, Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur.

Now that freedom had been won for India, Bapu wanted the people to turn their attention to constructive activities. In them he saw a rationale and the means for Government to be run well: by having as its compass the welfare of the people; and by putting the control wheel in the hands of constructive workers.

With this at the back of his mind, in his interview with the American author, Mr. Vincent Sheean, Gandhiji said that the functions of Government could not be carried on without using force; he reiterated his conviction,A man who wants to be good, and to do good in all circumstances, must not hold power.

Is all Government to stand still then?'''' Sheean wanted to know. And the apostle, ever practical in thought and deed, replied, ``No. He, the man of non-violence, can send persons to Government who represent his purpose and will. If he goes there himself, he exposes himself to the corrupting influence of power. But my representative there holds, as it were, a power of attorney only during my pleasure. If he falls a prey to temptation, he can be recalled. But I cannot recall myself!

All this requires a high degree of intelligence on the part of the electorate. There are organisations of constructive work. I do not want to send their workers to Parliament. These workers I want to stay outside and keep Parliament under check. The constructive workers will do so by educating and guiding the voters.

Bapu told Sheean that his approach to moral behaviour was of the highest practical value to all mankind. I have given my time not to abstract studies, but to the practice of things that matter, he declared.

Sheean had read the Bhagavad Gita. He asked,The whole of it is in defence of a righteous war. The Second World War was fought as a righteous war. Yet violence is more rampant after it. What did the Mahatma think? Gandhiji replied,See what is happening in India, in Kashmir. Yet, I have faith. If I live long enough, my followers will see the futility of it (employing force), and come round to my way.

Gandhiji explained that though the Gita was presented in the physical setting of a battle-field, the righteous war in its text referred rather to the eternal duel between right and wrong that was going on all the time within the human heart. The thesis of the Gita was neither violence, nor non-violence; it advocated right, detached action pursued with right means, leaving the fruits of every action to the care of Almighty God.

The call of stern duty kept him going, but he seemed to be troubled by pre-sentiments as well. In a letter to a Gujarati friend, Bapu said, I am still knocking about in a dark world. I do not intend to stay here for long. Whatever has to be decided will be decided within the next four days.

At his prayer meeting on the 28th, there was a return again to the topic of South Africa, where his social and political career had begun long decades ago, and where Indians were still fighting for their rights.

The Mahatma said, In South Africa, our people are fighting. In India, we have no laws depriving the people of the right of owning land or living wherever they please. That is so in South Africa. Indians there are having to struggle to safeguard their rights and defend the honour of India. Their struggle has taken the form of Satyagraha. The Indians are few in number, but if they are true Satyagrahis, their victory is certain. I shall ask the Government of South Africa not to be too severe with the Satyagrahis who carry on their legitimate struggle with such decency. The Government should understand their grievances, and come to a settlement with them.

Up soon after 3 a.m. on Thursday, and ablutions and prayer over in the cold, dark hours when the wind outside howled bitterly, Bapu set himself to spinning on the Charkha and dictating his letters.

To a friend Sankaran, who had lost his daughter, Bapu said: What comfort can I give? Death is a true friend. It is only our ignorance which causes us grief. Sulochana''s spirit was yesterday, is today, and will remain tomorrow. The body, of course, must die. Sulochana''s body has gone taking her failings with her, leaving only the good behind. Let us not forget that or her. Be even more true now, in the discharge of your duty.