To those who had to deal with them, like for instance the legendary Winston Churchill, Gandhiji’s methods were mad. But there was a method and shrewdness in his madness and even more importantly there was a motive. And it is impossible for any one to really assess Gandhi with any degree of authenticity without running into this quasi- spiritual aspect of his character that drove him to such quaint eccentricities as his weekly day of silence (Monday) and his periodic fasts for self purification, which were also times for reflection and introspection about the next course of action... Gandhiji’s tactics were often or even usually manipulative to put it charitably. He used his personal charisma and stature to get things done – things that would not normally happen. Some times he spectacularly failed; most importantly perhaps in his attempt to prevent India’s partition.
But very often he succeeded. He would sulk and go into a fast unto death and leaders of all shades and color would gather around him to assure him that he would get what he wanted, even if it were a temporary band aid like a stoppage of Hindu- Muslim riots or some thing more permanent like Pakistan being given its share of the imperial treasury, so that its origins would not start from a foundation of bankruptcy. What did Gandhiji want? He wanted many things and his dreams and his vision may be captured in sentences like these:
“Gandhi wanted to construct a new society, a value-based new society. A society built on inequality, exploitation, and violence was no acceptable to him. In the words of Vinoba Bhave a key follower, the new social order of Gandhi's vision, is not based on violence nor on punitive power, but on a 'third power" which is the basis of non-violent, Sarvodaya Society”.
One can argue for ever on the relevance of what Gandhiji wanted for his country depending on where lives on the ideological rainbow. But Gandhiji, arguably India’s shrewdest and most astute king maker whose sulks and petulance could dethrone leaders of the stature of Netaji, Sardar Patel and Rajaji and elevate a Jawaharlal Nehru wanted very little directly for himself. All of his posturing and drama were for the benefit of the country and society as he saw it, not for any personal gain... All Desicritics.org articles by Shantanu Dutta