Birthday: May 6, 1861
Died At Age: 69
Sun Sign: Taurus
Born Country: India
Born in: Agra
Famous as: Political Leader
Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males
political ideology: Indian National Congress
Spouse/Ex-: Swarup Rani Nehru
father: Gangadhar Nehru
mother: Jeevarani Nehru
siblings: Bansidhar Nehru, Nandlal Nehru
children: Jawaharlal Nehru, Krishna Hutheesing, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
Died on: February 6, 1931
place of death: Lucknow
education: University of Cambridge, Allahabad University
Who was Motilal Nehru?
Motilal Nehru was an Indian lawyer and an important activist in India’s freedom movement. He was also the main patriarch of the most powerful political family of India – the Nehru-Gandhi family. He was the father of the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and the grandfather of the first woman Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi. He was also the father of the politician Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. An important leader of the Indian National Congress, he had also served as its president twice. He was one of the wealthiest and most sought-after lawyers during his time. He was known for his elitist and westernized habits which he had inculcated owing to his multiple visits to Europe. His regular visits to Europe angered his conservative community that asked him to perform a reformation ceremony which he refused blatantly. At the same time, he was considered to be less revolutionary as compared to his son or even Mohandas Gandhi as he abided by British rules most of the time. He handed over the party to his son Jawaharlal Nehru when he started actively participating in its daily activities. He was not much active in the independence movement during the later years of his life due to his ailing health.
Many of the cases that Motilal Nehru took up were civil cases involving rich families. He soon made a name for himself amongst the elite in Allahabad where he started practicing later. In 1909, he received the approval to attend the Privy Council of Great Britain.
In 1919, he launched a newspaper called ‘The Independent’ to challenge the existing newspaper ‘The Leader’ that was too liberal for Motilal’s thoughts. In the same year, he then became the president of the Congress Party in Amritsar.
He extended his support to non-cooperation at the special Congress session held in Calcutta in September 1920. He ended up getting arrested for this movement.
In 1923, he was elected into the newly formed Central Legislative Assembly of British India and became the leader of the opposition. During this tenure, he was able to delay various finance bills and other legislations. He even agreed to join a committee with the sole purpose of making the British allow Indian officers in the Indian Army.
In March 1926, while he was a member in the assembly, he demanded from the British a representative conference to draft a constitution that would accord full dominion status to India. The British rejected this demand and as a result, Motilal resigned from the assembly and returned to rejoin the Congress Party.
In 1929, Motilal stepped down from the post of the party president and allowed his son Jawaharlal Nehru to become the Congress president. He was elated at his son taking over the party even though they had certain differences in various matters.
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Family & Personal Life
Motilal Nehru was married to Swarup Rani Nehru (née Thussu). In 1889, his wife gave birth to Jawaharlal, and then to Vijayalakshmi Pandit in 1900 and Krishna in 1907. His children Jawaharlal and Vijayalakshmi were both active politicians and played important roles in India’s struggle for freedom.
Motilal purchased a house in Allahabad and called it ‘Anand Bhavan,’ which translates to the ‘abode of happiness’ in English. This was a large house in the civil lines of the city.
Motilal’s declining health kept him away from politics and also from various historical events of 1929-31, especially during the times when Congress ended up adopting complete independence as the ultimate goal.
During the Salt Satyagraha, he was imprisoned but was released soon as his health was deteriorating. He breathed his last on 6th February 1931. He died peacefully with the satisfaction of having Mohandas Gandhi and his son near him during his last days.
His legacy continues to this day as he was the patriarch of India’s leading powerful political Nehru-Gandhi family. His family has produced three prime ministers: his son Jawaharlal, granddaughter Indira, and great-grandson Rajiv Gandhi. His great-great-grandsons Rahul and Varun and great-great-granddaughter Priyanka are playing an important role in Indian politics even today.