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Nehru may have had gay tendencies, reveals biographer - The Indian Express

Chidanand Rajghatta ()
5 February 1997

Title : Nehru may have had gay tendencies, reveals biographer
Author : Chidanand Rajghatta
Publication : The Indian Express
Date : February 5, 1997

The suggestion that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru may have had homosexual
experiences was made after extensive research and conversations
with those who knew him, according to Prof Stanley Wolpert, author
of Nehru: A Tryst With Destiny, a new biography which has outraged
sections of the Indian intelligentsia.

Speaking to The Indian Express from the University of California in
Los Angeles (UCLA) where he teaches Indian history, Prof Wolpert
said his conclusions were based on "interviews with a lot of people
and my own discussions with Nehru".

But the controversy, he added, was being blown out of proportion
because the references to Nehru's gay tendencies "constituted only
a small section of the book." The 'revelation' though is mentioned
on the book jacket.

Prof Wolpert said he did not broach the subject during his three
meetings with Nehru in 1957-58, when he spoke with the Indian
leader for his doctoral dissertation on the Indian freedom
movement. But his own interaction with Nehru during the meetings
also helped him to the conclusion, he added.

"My own aim as a scholar is to get as close to the truth as
possible... I believe in the Indian motto of Satyameva Jayate....
if I was not convinced enough I would not have written it ... those
who say 1 have overstated it should counter it with evidence, "the
historian said, while himself not proffering any "evidence."

In the book which has just hit the stands in the United States, and
is due for release in India shortly, Wolpert implies that Nehru had
several homosexual encounters during his early years in Allahabad,
and later at Harrow and Cambridge.

He also describes instances when Nehru dressed in drag "Wearing his
wig, made up with lipstick, powder and eye shadow, his body draped
in silks and satins, Jawahar most willingly offered himself up
night after night to those endless rehearsals for the Gaekwar's At
Home as a beautiful young girl, holding out her jug of wine and
loaf seductively to her poet lover, Omar," he writes in one

The book has received favourable reviews in the American press
Publishers Weekly describing it as a "warts-and-all portrait of
India's brilliant and charismatic first prime minister" in which
Wolpert "convincingly goes beneath Nehru's exalted image to reveal
some pesky demons." The New York Times Book Review described the
book as being "respectful of its subject but free of the
hagiography that has often diminished academic writing on Nehru."

Neither review touched on Nehru's supposed homosexual liaisons.

Asked why none of the previous biographies, including the more
recent one by M J Akbar, did not allude to this aspect of Nehru's
fife, Wolpert said "I have no idea."

In the book, Wolpert says Nehru's first attachment was with a young
man called Ferdinand Brooks who was his French teacher. Brooks was
a theosophist but Wolpert says before coming to India the
"handsome' man was a disciple and lover of Charles Webster
Leadbeater, a renegade Anglican curate who was accused of child
molestation and pederasty on several continents. Leadbeater openly
advocated mutual masturbation among young boys.

Wolpert also suggests Nehru may have had a gay relationship in
Harrow and makes much of Panditji's admiration for Oscar Wilde.

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