Book review: Dhananjay Rai, M.K. Gandhi: Poorna Swaraj, Constructive Programme: Its Meaning and Place

Published date01 June 2024
AuthorAkash Singh Thakur
Date01 June 2024
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 431
In the time of hyperpolarisation whereby escaping ideologically tainted views is
not easy, in his work, Abhishek Choudhary makes a sincere attempt to contextu-
alise Vajpayee in his political temporality. A biographer has to strike a ne balance
between what he unearthed through his research and giving his interpretation to it.
This work achieves a distinction in this aspect. Choudhary’s use of archival
sources and weaving a historical narrative through those makes for a captivating
read for academics and general public alike. However, the absence of details
regarding Vajpayee’s relationship with colleagues like Nanaji Deshmukh and
Balraj Madhok has left some pertinent questions answered. Was there any element
of personal ambition that equally shaped Vajpayee’s political trajectory and inu-
enced intra-party dynamics is one such question that looms large.
Rupesh Ranjan
Centre for Political Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
Delhi, India
Dhananjay Rai, M.K. Gandhi: Poorna Swaraj, Constructive Programme: Its
Meaning and Place. Gurugram: Penguin/Vintage Books, 2023, lxxxviii +
220 pp., `599 (Hardcover). ISBN: 9780670098279.
DOI: 10.1177/00195561241236070
The book, M.K. Gandhi: Poorna Swaraj, Constructive Programme: Its Meaning
and Place, introduced by Dhananjay Rai is divided into three sections:
Introduction, Poorna Swaraj and Afterword. This book is a profound work that
seamlessly integrates literature, history, political theory and Gandhian philoso-
phy. It draws the attention of academia, policymakers and general readers towards
strengthening the political community in addressing challenges within the pre-
vailing structure of liberal political theory.
The book examines the important role of the text Constructive Programme in
Poorna Swaraj. Poorna Swaraj comprises two crucial elements: the ‘philosophical
proper’ (Hind Swaraj and Concept of Swaraj) and the ‘philosophical practical’
(Constructive Programmes) (p. x). While Hind Swaraj enjoys global recognition,
the Constructive Programme has not received comparable attention. The primary
motivation of the book is to bring the crucial text Constructive Programme to the
forefront and provide its idea with the necessary attention it deserves. The book
strategically addresses this oversight by delving into the challenges posed by liberal
political theory and posits re-reading the Constructive Programme as a solution.
The introduction of the book is a historical study of the Constructive Programme.
Here, the well-researched book delves into the historical context in which it was
written, inclusion of items and completion from 1917 to 1948. Notably, subtle
changes were made to the text over time. The introduction also highlights the sig-
nicance of the Constructive Programme bringing it into public discussion.

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