Dalai Lama apologises for ‘self-centred’ comments on Jawaharlal Nehru

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The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Friday apologised for his comments in India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru calling him self-centred.

Speaking to reporters in Delhi on the sidelines of an event, the 83-year-old Nobel Laureate said, “My statements (on Nehru) have created a controversy. I apologise if I said something wrong.”

Dalai Lama had courted huge controversy on 8 August after he sensationally accused Nehru of being a self-centred man, whose personal political ambition led to the partition of India in 1947. He had said, “Mahatma Gandhi wanted to give the prime ministership to (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah. But Nehru refused. He was self-centred. He said, ‘I wanted to be Prime Minister’. India and Pakistan would have been united (had Jinnah been made Prime Minister at the time).”

His comments elicited angry reactions from many who felt that the Buddhist spiritual leader was being ungrateful since it was Nehru who gave him refuge in India in the wake of religious persecution of his supporters in Tibet after China annexed the mountain country in 1950.

Author Salil Tripathi wrote on Twitter, “Yes, @DalaiLama, Nehru was so selfish that he decided to give you and your followers refuge, land, and space to keep your legitimate freedom movement alive. Nehru never spoke of being divine; he was a flawed, great leader. What happened to you?” Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted, “With great respect his Holiness @DalaiLama is wrong that Nehru was celf centred&therefore opposed Gandhi’s suggestion of making Jinnah Prime Minister of India. The historical record suggests otherwise.”

On Friday, Dalai Lama thanked Nehru for supporting the Tibetans’ cause when thousands of them, including monks, fled their motherland in the 50s.

“I had a close relationship with Nehru, who suggested to have separate schools to preserve the Tibetan thought. He (Nehru) supported the Tibetans’ cause,” the 14th Dalai Lama said.

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