Among the freedom fighters, Dr Rajendra Prasad had about the best academic record (barring Dr Ambedkar). He did his MA in Economics from the University of Calcutta. Impressed by his answers, an examiner had once commented on his answer sheet “examinee is better than examiner”. He served as a professor in English, and as principal of a college. Later, while pursuing his law studies in Kolkata he also worked as Professor of Economics at Calcutta City College. He won gold medal in the examination of Masters of Law. He did his Doctorate in Law.

He had a roaring law practice which he gave up at the peak of his career in the cause of freedom. Keeping his legal competence and suitability in mind, he was unanimously elected as the president of the Constituent Assembly. But, he was not a Nehru-camp follower. Nehru therefore tried his level best to sideline him. To scuttle Dr Rajendra Prasad’s chance to become the first president of India, Nehru had even bluffed! As per the book “Nehru: A Troubled Legacy” by a former intelligence officer RNP Singh, Nehru wrote to Rajendra Prasad on 10 September 1949 that he (Nehru) and Sardar Patel had decided that “the safest and best course” would be to have C Rajagopalachari as the first president of India, even though Nehru had never discussed the matter with Sardar Patel or obtained his concurrence. The bluff was exposed when Rajendra Prasad referred the issue to Patel. RNP Singh says: “Nehru had resorted to desperate measures to prevent Prasad from occupying the position of president and these measures included blatant lying.”

Nehru didn’t want Dr Rajendra Prasad to get elected for the second term as the President of India in 1957. Towards that end he carried out a campaign, even alleging in his speeches that people in high positions have a tendency to cling to their posts—not realising the irony of that comment on himself! However, despite Nehru’s manoeuvrings, Dr Rajendra Prasad got re-elected.

As per Durga Das, when Dr Rajendra Prasad was ill and it was suspected that he might not survive, Nehru was reported to have deputed Lal Bahadur Shastri, his trusted lieutenant, to search a place of funeral as far away as possible from that of Gandhi! Nehru didn’t want Dr Rajendra Prasad to get any prominence. However, Rajendra Prasad survived. When Dr Rajendra Prasad died in Bihar, and his funeral was held in Patna, Nehru did not attend, saying that he was busy with election campaign fund collection in Gujarat! That time Nehru had advised the then President Dr Radhakrishnan, “I do not see any reason for you to go.” Dr Radhakrishnan had replied: “No, I think I must go and attend the funeral. That respect is due to him and must be paid. I think you should give up your tour and come with me.” But, Nehru stuck to his programme.

Nehru was so conceited he wouldn’t allow President Dr Rajendra Prasad to visit foreign nations on the plea that he didn’t project a secular enough image abroad! In his first term, the President visited only Nepal. It was only in the second term that he visited some other Asian nations including Japan, and made an excellent impression on host nations. The US President Eisenhower invited him to the US, but Nehru scuttled the proposal. Please also check Blunder#87 on what games Nehru played with Dr Rajendra Prasad on Somnath.

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