Born: May 6, 1861
Died: February 6, 1931
Achievements: Elected as Congress President twice; formed Swaraj
Party and was Leader of the Opposition in the Central Legislative
Assembly; prepared a draft Constitution for India.
Motilal Nehru was a doyen of Indian freedom struggle. He was the
patriarch of what later became modern India's most powerful political
dynasty. He was one of the most brilliant lawyers of the
pre-independence India. He was elected as Congress President twice and
is famous as the father of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal
Nehru. He was affectionately called as Pandit Motilal Nehru.
Motilal Nehru was born on May 6, 1861 in Delhi in a Kashmiri brahmin family.
His father was Gangadhar and his mother was Jeevarani. Motilal Nehru's
father died before Motilal was born. Moti Lal Nehru was brought up by
his elder brother Nandalal who was a junior lawyer in Allahabad.
Motilal Nehru became one of the first generation of young Indians to
receive 'Western-style' college education. He attended Muir College at
Agra, but failed to appear for the final year B.A examinations. He then
decided to join legal profession and appeared for law examination.
Motilal Nehru secured first place in law examination and started his
practice as lawyer in Kanpur in 1883.
Later Motilal Nehru settled in Allahabad and earned a mark for himself
as one of the best lawyers of the country. He used to earns in lakhs every
month and lived with great splendor and pomp. He bought a large family
home in the Civil Lines of Allahabad and christened it as Anand Bhavan.
He frequently visited Europe and adopted Western lifestyle. In 1909 he
reached the pinnacle of his legal career by gaining the approval to appear
in the Privy Council of Great Britain. In 1910, Motilal contested the
election to the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces and won.
The arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on Indian political scene transformed Motilal
Nehru. Jalianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919 shattered his faith
in British rule and he decided to enter freedom struggle. The British
government appointed a Commission to inquire into the Jalianwala Bagh
incident. The Congress boycotted this commission. It appointed its own
Inquiry Committee. Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Chittranjan Das were
among its members. Following Mahatma Gandhi's call for Non Cooperation
movement, he gave up his legal practice. He also shunned his luxurious
lifestyle, gave away his Western clothes and articles and started wearing
Motilal Nehru was elected as Congress President in 1919 and 1920. In 1923,
he founded the Swaraj party along with Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das. The
object of the Swaraj Part was to enter the Legislative Assembly as elected
members to oppose the government. Motilal Nehru first became the Secretary
and later the President of Swaraj party. He became the Leader of the Opposition
in the Central Legislative Assembly and vociferously opposed and exposed the
decisions of the government.
When the Simon Commission was appointed in 1927, Motilal Nehru was asked
to draw up a draft constitution for free India. The constitution, drawn
up by him, proposed Dominion status for India. The radical wing of the
Congress led by Jawaharlal Nehru, and Subash Chandra Bose opposed Dominion
status and favoured full freedom.
Motilal Nehru was arrested in 1930, in the wake of Civil Disobedience
Movement. He was released in 1931, in view of his deteriorating health.
Motilal Nehru passed away on February 6, 1931 in Lucknow.