The Darkest days in Indian Politics

This is an excerpt from the Book “The Crusade and End of Indira Raj” written by S. K. Ghose (an unknown author but the foreword is by JP himself) and published in the year 1978. A complete chapter is extracted here just to show from contemporary records, what was the dirtiest period in Free India’s political history.  

Nixon & Mrs. Gandhi

The Watergate scandal saw Mr. Richard Nixon out of U.S. presidency on August 9, 1974. Mr. Gerald Ford, who assumed the Presidency, told the American nation “Our great republic is a Government of laws and not of men” (almost the exact words uttered by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when he inaugurated the All India Lawyers’ Conference at Patna one and a half decades ago) That was the first thing the Janata Party promised the nation when it assumed office at the Centre. By enacting the 39th Amendment Mrs Gandhi had placed herself above the law.

When Nixon took tearful leave of the White House and a devasted Presidency he told the men and women who had served him that ‘only a man in the deepest vally can know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” Mr. Nixon’s Watergate scandal was nothing compared to what had happened in India due to Mrs. Gandhi’s bid to remain on the top of the mountain she had ascended 11 years ago.

Nixon accepted that his political career was in shambles and he had no defence for his actions. No quitter, all the same he quit the White House without fuss. Mrs. Gandhi is still reluctant to accept that her political career too is in shambles. She stuck to her 1, Safdar Jang Road residence as long as she could and even offered to pay a fabulous rent to continue living in it. She didn’t express a word of regret for all that happened during the emergency. She merely accepted her responsibility for the party’s debacle at the polls (Six months after the Janata party’s assumption of office at the Centre she gathered up enough courage to even justify the emergency in a speech at Srinagar.)

In a statement issued on July 15, 1977, in reply to the charge of the Union Home Minister, Choudhury Charan Singh, that she had even thought of shooting some opposition leaders during the emergency, Mrs. Gandhi denied it and went on further to say that she did express her regret in her election speeches at the excesses committed during the emergency and promised it would never happen again. Public memory is not that short. What she did was to gloss over the atrocities and apologetically own them as “some mistakes.” The excellent under-statement  will not deceive even a child. Had Hitler been alive and confessed that Belsen, Dachau and Jadiga were “mistakes” how would the Nuremberg judges and the people of the world at large have taken it?

The lady protests too much! Let her memory be refreshed. May one ask why she did not utter a word of condemnation, when the Indira Brigade opened fire on a JP-led procession in Patna on June 5, 1974? Can she explain her silence on the attempt on Jp’s life at Ludhiana when a hefty ruffian tried to hold him in an iron embrace, broke one of his ribs and fled away only when Mr. Narayan cried out in pain? Again, why didn’t she say a word deploring the attack on JP’s motorcade nead Karnal while he was going from Delhi to Kurukshetra to inaugurate a Bihar type agitation in Haryana? There were many witnesses to the attack. Some of the persons in the motorcade included Madhu Limaye, Maniram Bhagri, Jagabandhu Adhikari and Jagannath Yadav. Karpoori Thakur, the present Chief Minister of Bihar, was in JP’s car.

The fact is that she is unrepentant and is still waiting on the wings after installing her puppet (no longer a puppet) as the President of the AICC. She is extremely fond of puppets. Somewhere she wrote or said that as a a child she used to play with dolls while her father was away in prison. It needs no psychiatrist to point out the reason why she became so fond of human puppets when she grew up. Mr. Brahmanand Reddi,  former Home Minister, who cannot escape the responsibility for the rapacities that were committed during the emergency along with Mrs. Gandhi, himself gave the game away after his election as Congress President when he declared that it was not his victory but of Mrs. Gandhi, “who still remains our esteemed leader”.

Mr. Nixon could atleast foresee his political doom because the Watergate scandal dragged on and the world press was full of it. Hin angry outburst “bomb the Washington Post” neither silenced the press nor the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Mrs. Gandhi had muzzled the press. She had also silenced the opposition (most of whose leaders she had sent to jail or underground) as well as her own partymen. The AIR and the Television were manned by her stooges. She heard and read only what Indira Gandhi had to say of the wonderful achievements of Indira Gandhi while the silly and the wily sycophants sang the praise of her Shahzada.

The fact that she started pulling the strings soon after her ignominious defeat clearly indicates that she learnt no lessons nor does she intend to do so. On the contrary she plans to remain in power politics. It means that if she is again able to capture power she will not only do it again but do it more effectively. The implications are awful and it is in this light that the ‘forgive and forget’ stand of some Janata stalwarts has to be examined. The issue is more than personal.

Kshama Hi Paramo Dharmah (to forgive is divine) is all right for the few who genuinely believe in it. They may even frown upon India’s ancient Danda Niti (the law on crime and punishment) and be prepared to forgive the worst crime perpetrated on the people in India’s long history. That is understable though ill luck may once again make them the victims of a more tyrannical regime if Mrs. Gandhi and her cohorts manage to stage a come back to power. They may become Saheeds again for upholding the principle of forgive and forget. But have they the right to jeopardize the lives of millions of countrymen at the altar of a high-faultin personal ethics? The answer must be a resounding ‘No”.

Is there no way out to kill the snake without breaking the stick, as a Bengali saying goes? There is. Without being vindictive the government can still deal effectively with Mrs Gandhi and keep her out of mischief. Here again comes the analogy of Mr. Nixon. The government has to bring home the crimes she had committed and then grant pardon. President Ford granted such a pardon to Nixon and the acceptance of that pardon by Nixon meant acceptance of his guilt. Similar pardon may be granted to her if she accepts it will mean she accepts her guilt, which will make it impossible for her to return to power again. The Janata Party leaders at least owe this much to the people who voted them to power. But will it be possible? She is making even such an easy way out for herself difficult by her present stance in which she has started justifying all the crimes she perpetrated on the people and the Constitution.

If she is unrepentant, Mr. Brahmanand Reddi, like his “esteemed leader” has not so far expressed a word of regret for all the excesses of the emergency nor held out any promise that there would not be any repetition if the Congress, which has a ‘great future’, returned to power. True, more clever Congress politicians with lingering hopes of turning the tables, have been faithfully promising to the people that what had happened during the emergency would never happen again. It should not be forgotten that they had all kept mum when the Attorney General, Mr. Niren De, had justified before the Supreme Court the powers that the Indira Government had assumed to detain anybody it liked, to kill anybody it liked and even starve to death anybody it liked and accepted the position that the victims would be allowed no remedy against such action. Even Hitler, notorious for his atrocities on the Jews, did not have the gumption to declare assumption of such powers though the horrors he perpetrated have now become part of history.

The promises of these Congress leaders do not stand a moment’s scrutiny. These are the very people, ex-Ministers and members of Parliament, who had sworn in the name of God or solemnly affirmed their loyalty to the Constitution and pledged themselves to protect it and uphold it. Yet they did not hesitate to butcher the Constitution. If they could treat their sacred pledges with such contempt, where is the guarantee that they would not break their promises and give the go by to the pious intention they are mouthing today? After all, the road to hell is paved with pious intentions. More so, when their “esteemed leader” is biding her time to re-enter the stage in the role of the leading lady once gain. It should not be overlooked that they have not lost their teeth despite they suffered at the hustings for their misdeeds. After slaughtering democracy they are now cheekily pointing the accusing finger towards the Janata Party for “trampling democratic norms. Father forgive them for they know not what they do!

Congressmen have suddenly become solicitious for the Naxalites forgetting that it was their government which had suppressed them and even liquidated many of them. When I tried to defend in the Bihar Vidhan Parishad the release of George Fernandes and the withdrawal of the Baroda Dynamite Case I was continuously interrupted. I pointed out that even if he was involved in the case the Janata Government was fully justified in releasing him because Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of non violence, had interceded on behalf of Bhagat Singh for clemency. I said even if it was argued that what was pardonable during the British regime could not be pardonable in free India, such argument did not hold water. For tyranny was tyranny and it did not become more bearable because it was indigenous. When in a letter I enquired from George about it he replied, “Tyranny is tyranny. In fact, it is worse when the tyrant is a native.”

Mrs. Gandhi’s sarcastic comment on JP for staying with Mr. Ramnath Goenka was revived with vengeance following the dispute over payment of interim relief to the employees of the Indian Express group of newspapers. Those now in the opposition could not even tolerate such a man, a lifelong social worker who had never been interested in power, staying with a friend. How it was twisted! The Express Tower in Bombay had become a centre of extra-constitutional authority! That was why Mr. Goenka was not conceding the legitimate demand of the employees and the Janata Government was silent about it. The dispute has now been happily settled.

Although Mr Y B Chavan the Leader of the Opposition the Lok Sabha had admitted that mistakes had been committed during the emergency, which should never be repeated a sizeable number of important Congressmen have not taken their cue from him. They are still ardent believers in dinner diplomacy. You have only to listen to their speeches to find that the attacks on JP by the Defenders of the Earth (in Mrs Gandhi) have not ceased. They forget that JP is not in the Janata Party though he is its founding father. Even so, he is its strongest support while the Lady whose voice they are echoing is now proving to be their weakest reed.            

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