History and nationalist project article by Swamy hindu dt 11-5-14
What concerns Indian nationalists is that in spite of the application of science to questions of history, Nehruvian historians refuse to update materials that go into making history books
It is good to see Digvijaya Singh of the Congress Party finding time from his life of leisure and party responsibilities to address ideological issues raised by me that arise from the task of re-writing our history text books and de-falsification of the same.
In his article “History, battleground for politics” published in The Hindu on October 10, Mr. Singh alleges that my call for burning Indian history books written by Nehruvian historians, made at a public meeting in Delhi, is part of a larger conspiracy of the Sangh Parivar to devalue the contribution made by Jawaharlal Nehru in our history. My answer to that would be my intention is not to conspire, since my contempt for Nehru is no secret. I am clear that it is important to resize the stature that Nehru enjoys in Indian history in order to match the reality of his achievement.
Sardar Patel’s contributions
For decades the Congress party has used its power to make Nehru appear as a giant rendering all other political personalities small before him. The fact is that the greatest achievements of the past 67 years of our recent history do not belong to Nehru or to his family — the credit for the integration of over 500 independent princely states in 1947-49 by their merger from what then was divided India to make it what it is today is due solely to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. After the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was merged with India on October 26, 1947, Nehru completely mishandled the territorial dispute issue by taking it to the U.N. and that too without Cabinet approval. The mess that Kashmir is in today can be attributed to Nehru’s lack of national vision. Yet Sardar Patel was not awarded the Bharat Ratna till 1991 when Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister and I as his senior-most cabinet minister rectified the omission. Nehru had taken the Bharat Ratna for himself in 1955, the very next year after it was instituted as a national award. As a nation builder, Nehru was a complete failure.
Mr. Singh states in his article that Nehru’s contribution to the freedom struggle under Gandhiji’s leadership is unmatched, and that he was the Mahatma’s chosen person to lead free India. My answer to that would be until 1942 it was C. Rajagopalachari who was the chosen successor but he lost his credibility among the masses due to his acceptance of Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan. Also had Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose returned safely to India after his Japan visit, he would have become the Prime Minister of India.
With Netaji gone, Gandhiji took a vote of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) presidents in 1946, and only one of the 16 PCC Presidents voted for Nehru. The other 15 voted for Sardar Patel. But Gandhiji asked Patel to withdraw in favour of Nehru for practical politics — to hasten British departure. History books of the future will record what the practical politics was, when all currently classified files are declassified.
Mr. Singh also states that the RSS-BJP combine and their followers do not have any one of their own who has contributed to the Indian freedom struggle. Hence they seek to appropriate Congress leaders as their own. Even “Chacha” Nehru and Indiraji have been owned by Prime Minister Modi recently, he says. My answer to that would be that Mr. Modi’s message that both Nehru and Indira’s birthdays should be celebrated by sweeping garbage out of the country should be appreciated in all its subtlety before he goes on to rejoice the transformation of Mr. Modi.
Of course, if Mr. Singh has digested the historical concoction handed down to us by Macaulay’s intellectual progenies, it would be difficult for him to name any one belonging to the Hindutva fraternity who had contributed to our independence struggle. Mr. Singh may, therefore, not have heard of Veer Savarkar who changed the outlook of generations of Indians with his book The Indian War of Independence — 1857. He might not have heard either of his great sacrifices in Andaman jail or his heroic escape from the British in Europe. Nor would he know about Hemu Vikramaditya or the great renaissance of the Vijayanagar Empire or the thorough beating the third Caliphate armies received on Rajasthan border at the hands of the Gujarat Prajapati dynasty and the Maharashtra-Andhra Chalukya Empire.
Lessons in history
Mr. Singh says that Mr. Modi is trying hard to distance himself from the hardcore religious and fundamentalist ideology in which he had been trained and associated with from early on. But he later says with mixed metaphor “Can a leopard conceal its spots?” So he fatuously prescribes how Mr. Modi should “tackle people like Mr. Swamy and other fringe elements” in order to emerge as a “true national leader.” In response all I would say is look at how Mr. Singh tutored Rahul Gandhi to be a national leader and what it led to… The Lok Sabha election result of 2014 is a testimony to that.
What really concerns nationalists in India is that in spite of the application of science to questions of history, Nehruvian historians are refusing to update and review the materials that go into making history books. The Aryan-Dravidian race theory has been demolished by recent researches in genetics based on DNA studies. It has been established that most Indians have the same DNA profile irrespective of caste, religion or region. Yet we find our text books talking about India being multiethnic.
The Sarasvati River had been called mythical by historians for the last 200 years. But now with the help of laser science it has been possible to locate the Vedic river underground and has now opened it up. Dwarka, the city of Lord Krishna, was similarly declared to be mythical. But under the dynamic leadership of Dr. S.R. Rao of the Archaeological Survey of India, Dwarka city was found under the ocean of the Gujarat coast. These discoveries find no reflection in our history textbooks.
The chronology that we are made to follow in history textbooks of today is such that Hindu civilisation is shown to arrive after the beginnings of the Judeo-Christian civilisation. Over 2,000 years of Hindu history has been truncated to zero for this purpose. Hence, just as Gandhiji started a revolution in India by urging the masses to burn British clothes, wear Khadi, and boycott British goods, we nationalists too advocate clarity with regards to our national identity by burning history books concocted by British imperialists.
(Subramanian Swamy is chairman of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Strategic Affairs Committee.)
Revamping Indian history: a nationalist project
What concerns nationalists in India is that in spite of the application of science to questions of history, Nehruvian historians refuse to update and review materials that go into making history books.
It is good to see Congress leader Digvijaya Singh taking the time off to respond to ideological issues which I had recently raised regarding the task of re-writing our history text books and de-falsification of the same.
In his article “History, battleground for politics” published in The Hinduon October 10, Mr. Singh alleges that my call for burning Indian history books written by Nehruvian historians, made at a public meeting in Delhi, is part of a larger conspiracy of the Sangh Parivar to devalue the contribution made by Jawaharlal Nehru in our history. My answer to that would be my intention is not to conspire since my contempt for Nehru is no secret. I am clear that it is important to re-size the stature that Nehru enjoys in Indian history in order to match the reality of his achievement.
Sardar Patel’s contributions
For decades the Congress party has used its power to make Nehru appear as a giant rendering all other political personalities small before him. The fact is that the greatest achievements of the past 67 years of our recent history do not belong to Nehru or to his family – the credit for the integration of over 500 independent princely states in 1947-49 by their merger from what then was divided India to make it what it is today is due solely to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. After the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was merged with India on October 26, 1947, Nehru completely mishandled the territorial dispute issue by taking it to the U.N. and that too without cabinet approval. The mess that Kashmir is in today can be attributed to Nehru’s lack of national vision. Yet Sardar Patel was not awarded the Bharat Ratna till 1991 when Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister and I, as his senior-most cabinet minister, rectified the error. Nehru had taken the Bharat Ratna for himself in 1955, the very next year after it was instituted as a national award. As a nation builder, Nehru was a complete failure.
Mr. Singh states in his article that Nehru’s contribution to the freedom struggle under Gandhiji’s leadership is unmatched, and that he was the Mahatma’s chosen person to lead free India. My answer to that would be until 1942 it was C. Rajagopalachari who was the chosen successor but he lost his credibility among the masses due to his acceptance of Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan. Also had Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose returned safely to India after his Japan visit he would have become the Prime Minister of India.
With Netaji gone, Gandhiji took a vote of Pradesh Congress Committee presidents in 1946, and only one of the 16 PCC Presidents voted for Nehru. The other 15 voted for Sardar Patel. But Gandhiji asked Patel to withdraw in favour of Nehru for practical politics—to hasten British departure. History books of the future will record what the practical politics was, when all currently classified files are declassified.
Mr. Singh also states that the RSS-BJP combine and their followers do not have any one of their own who has contributed to the Indian freedom struggle. Hence they seek to appropriate Congress leaders as their own. Even “Chacha” Nehru and Indiraji have been owned by Prime Minister Modi recently, he says. My answer to that would be that Prime Minister Modi’s message that both Nehru and Indira’s birthdays should be celebrated by sweeping garbage out of the country should be appreciated in all its subtlety before he goes on to rejoice the transformation of Mr. Modi.
Lessons in history
Of course if Mr. Singh has digested the historical concoction handed down to us by Macaulay’s intellectual progenies, it would be difficult for him to name any one belonging to the Hindutva fraternity who had contributed to our independence struggle. Mr. Singh may, therefore, not have heard of Veer Savarkar who changed the outlook of generations of Indians with his book The Indian War of Independence – 1857. He might not have heard either of his great sacrifices in Andaman jail or his heroic escape from the British in Europe. Nor would he know about Hemu Vikramaditya or the great renaissance of the Vijayanagar Empire or the thorough beating the third Caliphate armies received on Rajasthan border at the hands of the Gujarat Prajapati dynasty and the Maharashtra-Andhra Chalukya Empire.
Mr. Singh says that Mr. Modi is trying hard to distance himself from the hardcore religious and fundamentalist ideology in which he had been trained and associated with from early on. But he later says with mixed metaphor “Can a leopard conceal its spots?” So he fatuously prescribes how Mr. Modi should “tackle people like Mr. Swamy and other fringe elements” in order to emerge as a “true national leader”. In response all I would say is look at how Mr. Singh tutored Rahul Gandhi to be a national leader and what it led to… The Lok Sabha election result of 2014 is a testimony to that.
Nehruvian history vs. nationalist history
What really concerns nationalists in India is that in spite of the application of science to questions of history, Nehruvian historians are refusing to update and review the materials that go into making history books. The Aryan-Dravidian race theory has been demolished by recent researches in genetics based on DNA studies. It has been established that most Indians have the same DNA profile irrespective of caste, religion or region. Yet we find our text books talking about India being multi-racial.
The Sarasvati River had been called mythical by historians for the last 200 years. But now with the help of laser science it has been possible to locate the Vedic river underground and has now opened it up. Dwarka, the city of Lord Krishna, was similarly declared to be mythical. But under the dynamic leadership of Dr. S. R. Rao of the Archaeological Survey of India, Dwarka city was found under the ocean of the Gujarat coast. These discoveries find no reflection in our history textbooks.
The chronology that we are made to follow in history textbooks of today is such that Hindu civilisation is shown to arrive after the beginnings of the Judeo-Christian civilisation. Over 2000 years of Hindu history has been truncated to zero for this purpose. Hence, just as Gandhiji started a revolution in India by urging the masses to burn British clothes, wear Khadi, and boycott British goods, we nationalists too advocate clarity with regards to our national identity by burning history books concocted by British imperialists.
(Subramanian Swamy is chairman of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Strategic Affairs Committee.)
An article on Swamy in Lanka web
Sri Lanka too needs a Dr. Subramaniam Swamy!
Do we have a politician as clean as Dr. Swamy? Sadly, we do not. Have we a politician that has challenged Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers and other high ranking officials? Sadly, we do not. Do we have politicians of the calibre of Dr. Swamy who have got elected to office without coming through the backdoor as the one’s we have carrying policies detrimental to Sri Lanka’s identity? We do not. What is wonderful about Dr. Swamy and a thing that Sri Lanka’s politicians should envy is that Dr. Swamy is undoubtedly a Mr. Clean – no one in government or outside has yet found anything to charge him with any offence, let alone file a case against him in a court. We wish we had one like him in Sri Lanka.
Indian academician, politician, economist and legal activist while not been a lawyer is just a handful of names associated with Dr. Swamy. He certainly adds color to any debate and enthrals any listener. The people in Sri Lanka perhaps know him and admire him more than those in India. Our admiration for Dr. Swamy is strengthened by the fact that we see in him a person we hope we can aspire to have in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the question remains do we have a Dr. Subramaniam Swamy like politician-cum public interest advocate amongst us who does not slander opposition with accusations of corruption but actually takes legal action against them.
Entering politics in 1970, Dr. Swamy created a national stir by challenging Indira Gandhi’s Soviet influenced socialist planning. Dr. Swamy first argued in a court of law in 1982 when Ram Jethmalani filed a criminal defamation against Dr. Swamy. Though not a lawyer, but married to a lawyer, Dr. Swamy went to argue his own case and won too. Jethmalani lost the 3 other defamation cases filed against Dr. Swamy
Dr. Swamy has faced several defamations over the years – one being a case filed by Ramkrishna Hegde, then Chief Minister of Karnataka who Dr. Swamy accused of appropriating land in Bangalore for the benefit of his son-in-law. Dr. Swamy has made the same allegation against Kejriwal who too filed a defamation against Dr. Swamy.
There are close to 100 defamation cases filed against Dr. Swamy by jailed Chief Minister Jayalalitha alone from 1992 to 1996. All the 100 cases were eventually withdrawn by Jayalalitha.
Dr. Swamy has also been involved several public interest litigation cases all of which he has won.
For a politician like Dr. Swamy to say that he got involved in public litigation being a politician because the people were losing faith in politicians and with politicians accusing the other of being corrupt and nothing was being done about it, is commendable. We have enough of spouses taking salaries as Secretaries but what is their productivity to the country, Dr. Swamy even has appeared as clerk of his lawyer wife and showed his passion for public litigation in the interest of the country.
Dr. Swamy functioned as a Law Minister and became one of the few distinguished perhaps only Law Minister without being a lawyer to be given a farewell by the Supreme Court of India! We blink to even think that our Ministers can make notes good enough for another to borrow them but the judges of the Indian Courts have even borrowed notes of Dr. Swamy! We have a handful of lawyers who take cases free of charge but most of them we know lack even the basic levels of integrity.
His straightforward talk is the envy of most politicians. Ask a question like ‘are you for uniform civil code’ his answer will be surely Yes with a clear explanation why. He would ask why a country should have 2 different laws when before the law all citizens should be treated equally.
Dr Subramanian Swamy exposed the Himalayan corruption of DMK Party nominated Union Telecom Minister A. Raja in the 2g spectrum allocation scam by furnishing irrefutable documentary evidence to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and sought the latter’s permission as prescribed under the rules to prosecute Minister A. Raja. – The Indian Prime Minister took no action.
Dr Subramanian Swamy has also taken on the self-appointed undisputed dictator of the Congress with the media blacking out the legal and legitimate political battles he has launched in several courts of law and allegations that she and her family used LTTE to smuggle Indian artefacts out of India and are being sold in Italy. These allegations highlighted for the national good of the country has been purposely drowned by the media of India and shows affinity with Sri Lanka’s own media that picks and chooses who they go after.
No sooner Jayalalitha’s sentence was given, Dr. Subramanian Swamy was to say that before Christmas Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should prepare to go to prison in connection with a case over the acquisition of the National Herald newspaper. A day in the court with Dr. Swamy behind one’s back would be anyone’s nightmare! Dr. Swamy is accusing Sonia, Rahul and other Congress leaders of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying Rs.50lakhs allowing Young Indian Ltd company to acquire the Associated Journals Ltd, publisher of the defunct National Herald newspaper. It emerges that the Young Indian was a sham to convert public money for personal use to acquire control of over Rs.2000 crore worth of assets. He has even accused her of contracting the LTTE to kill Rajiv Gnadhi and spoke of Bofors kickbacks going to Sonia’s family and not to Rajiv. Swamy had even provided Indira Gandhi documentary evidence of Sonia functioning as an insurance agent for Oriental Fire and General Insurance Company using the Prime Minister’s official residence forcing Indira to ask Sonia to give up ‘employment’. His diplomacy is such he became the first ruling party politician to travel to China and Israel and became the 1st Indian after 25years to go to Mount Kailash in Tibet in 1981.
There is not enough to write about Dr. Swamy. He is an enigma to even India. What is good for Sri Lanka’s own politicians to realize is that Dr. Swamy functions in the true interest of the people in a single handed effort to uncover the truth in an unaggressive manner a trait that our politicians lack. Such scholars we lack and the likelihood of them ever emerging in the present climate with which young leaders are groomed as politicians gives little hope either. Even among the one’s we have clinging to power and unwilling to relinquish power unless members of their families are given leadership roles, shows that Sri Lanka lacks leaders with national interest coming first. We have had the luck to have a handful of officials who have steered the war effort and with whom our trust is placed in, evidence of which is visibly available in the magnitude of changes that have taken place where post-war development is concerned. There is little need to name them for we all know who they are.
The corruption prevails as a result of coalition partners and the silence that is required to keep them part of the government. It is like a ransom held across the country and politicians need to seriously sit down and decide is this the way we are to progress into the future.
No Government which has to hopelessly depend upon its coalition partners, can carry out the desired reforms. To expose the corrupt only the uncorrupt can point fingers. Corruption at different levels does not help the country reach any milestones. Those that watch and allow corruption do so only to use that for their advantage at a later date.
One Subramanian Swamy is not enough for a country like India, but he has stood out and has become a beacon for all to follow. One Subramanian Swamy is ample for Sri Lanka and with such a large set of politicians in both government and opposition how many can measure up to the standard of Dr. Swamy. In Sri Lanka we may say not to trust an Indian, but Dr. Swamy has shown in no small way that he stands up for truth and in a world of lies and distortions truth must win the day.
The calibre of the personality of Dr. Subramanian Swamy should provide food for thought for all politicians in Sri Lanka – both Government and Opposition. None can boast of coming anywhere near his level of integrity.
Nation must come first. People’s interests must come next. Politicians are servants of the People and not the other way round. It is with the money of the taxpayer that all politicians enjoy their perks and they should know to return what they take by not ruining the nation.
Shenali D Waduge
Dr Subramanian Swamy addressing a Public Meeting to express Solidarity with Israel in Mumbai on Sunday
INDO ISRAEL FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATION Public Meeting organised in Mumbai at Veer Savarkar Auditorium, Shivaji Park, Mumbai on Sunday 3rd Aug 2014 to EXPRESS SOLIDARITY WITH ISRAEL in its War Against Terrorism.
Meeting addressed by Dr Subramanian Swamy said that it is in India’s National Interest that we support Israel as India & Israel can benefit each other and Israel has stood by India in all issues over the period of time & Shri Madhav Bhandari graced the occasion.
Shri Vinayak Dixit( President) gave details of the Association & Jagdish Shetty( General Secretary) gave details of the programme & Shri Jeymin Panchal proposed a Vote of Thanks.
The response of the people was over-whelming and hundreds of supporters were outside the Auditorum and they watched the event on the Closed circuits TVs & Screen in the Ground Floor & Cafeteria area.
Mr Matan Zamir, Dy. Consul General of Israel in Mumbai also attended and thanked the Citizens of Mumbai for their support.
Iraq Crisis, Global Security and implications for India on July 8th, 2014
Speech in three parts
- What is the Iraq crisis?
- How does it impact Global security
- What are the implications for India, and what should we do?
- The Iraq crisis arises not so much from the brutal take-over by ISIS of Mosul and Tikrit, and parts of Syria, but from June 29, 2014 announcement of the formations of the Caliphate, and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi as the Caliph, known as Caliph Ibrahim, a successor to Prophet Mohammed.
- The new “Caliph” has given a call to all “Ummah” Muslims to follow him and obey him in declaring Global Jihad to Islamize the World. Nostradamus&Aurobindo prediction.
- For the next five years, the map of the proposed conquest of nations has been published. The second Caliph, Umar, had achieved up to India.
- The crisis is the call Global Jihad and internationalization of the Muslim community with no national attachment, acceptance of Sharia and restrictions on women; Fatwa.
What is the Iraq Crisis?
Global Security Impact
- Muslim nations produce 85% of oil. Iraq, Qatar (gas), and Saudi Arabia in particular.
- If this Caliph follows the brutal murder route, Global security would face organized international terrorist onslaught.
- Every country’s local Muslim population would become infected, so each country could face internal insurgency.
- Islamic Global strategy of Prophet Mohammed was three fold:
- Darul Islam,
- DarulAhad with Al Taqqiya
- Non-Muslim majority nations are DarulHarab if the majority is not united. If united then Al Taqqiya
- Great upheaval and bloodshed will results
Implications for India
- India is facing huge Muslim population in West-Pakistan and Afghanistan, and East of Bangladesh. Within India 150 million Muslims.
- The last invasion by Umar was unstoppable in Europe and in Asia till Umar declared that he would conquer India.
- Two dynasties, GurjaraPratihara and Chalukya came together and defeated the Caliph’s army on the Sind-Rajasthan border. This was in 738 AD. Next 400 years safe, till internal treachery took place.
- But then we had Hindu Unity and the Chalukyaconcept of Chakravartin. We also had no Muslim population
- Today we lack both. What we need today is Hindustani unity – of Hindu and those others who accept that their ancestors were Hindus.
- To foster that we need a Renaissance –
- A link language
- Correct history (DNA)
Fortune India December 2013
Fortune India December 2013 – article on Subramanian Swamy…
Befriending Sri Lanka should be India’s concern
Without UNSC backing by way of a Resolution, an UNHRC Resolution is not even worth the paper on which it is written. Hence the British PM’s threat at CHOGM to enforce human rights justice by external intervention is laughable
The world witnessed a historic event in May 2009, when in a final Sri Lankan military assault, the treacherous and murderous terrorist outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was decimated. Its chief V Prabhakaran and his main associates were killed on May 19, 2009.
The Sri Lankan President successfully led his nation to bring the 29-year-long sordid affair of terrorism in the island to a decisive end by military means. Much has improved in Sri Lanka since the historic May 19, 2009. Coming to terms with Prabhakaran’s death, the rump LTTE, surviving in the island, laid down their arms. Subsequently many of them have been rehabilitated in the mainstream.
Today, Tamil families living in Sri Lanka no more fear the forced recruitment of their children by the LTTE. The extortion of funds from civilians to finance terrorist operations has also ended. Normalcy has returned in daily life after three decades.
The Sri Lankan people gave the President a huge mandate in the subsequently held general elections. With the war victor halo and the public mandate, it is clear that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is crucially positioned to take necessary and effective steps to solve the remaining pending and pressing issue — a healthy Sinhala-Tamil reconciliation — by finding a mutually acceptable way to heal the residual Sinhala-Tamil divide, and bring about a meeting of minds.
Decades of brutal insurgency have polarised communities and undermined institutions that guarantee civilian rights.
The immediate task before President Rajapaksa is to accomplish the rehabilitation of the remaining victims of the insurgency, to provide solace to the bereaved families whose kin were killed in the crossfire, the displaced and the injured. However, the more fundamental long-term challenge for Sri Lanka is to provide succour to those who are scarred mentally and emotionally by the brutalities and are uncertain about their place in Sri Lanka’s future.
The Sri Lankan Tamils are facing the delicate situation. The war conducted by the Sri Lankan armed forces against a sinister terrorist organisation had — due to the extremist Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu and the violent authoritarianism of the LTTE demanding that it be recognised as the sole representative of the Tamils — more or less polarised into a conflict between the Sinhala and the Tamil communities. This was confounded by the political miscalculations of some short-sighted leaders on both sides of the Palk Straits over the last three decades.
The LTTE, in fact, had led that polarisation, and Tamil leadership fell into the quicksand created by it. They were egged on across the Palk Strait by selfish leaders in Tamil Nadu, many of whom were being financed by the LTTE.
Today in 2013, more than four years later, we are faced with two conflicting imperatives —
First, there is a need for the Sri Lankan government to treat and co-opt the Tamils in national endeavours as a linguist (not ethnic) minority within the framework of a quasi-unitary Constitution.
Second, to heal the wounds of the mind and body of the Sri Lankans, who are victims of both the LTTE terrorism and the collateral human rights damage implicit in an anti-insurgency and anti-terrorist military action. Such damage has happened in many countries and even in a traditional war such the Allies attack on Germany and the atomic bombing of Japan during World War II.
The first imperative requires forgetting the past injustices, human rights violations, and horrors of armed conflict in order to move forward, while the second imperative needs remembering the past and bringing the offenders of gross human rights violations to book to serve as a deterrent for the future.
The contradiction in the goals implicit in the two issues is difficult to resolve in Sri Lanka. It was easier in the aftermath of a traditional war, like that in 1945, when the Nuremberg Trials took place, while reconstruction of Europe commenced simultaneously. In 1945, the winners and losers were identifiable as national identities, and victor-imposed solutions had the moral sanction against a defeated opponent led by a depraved leadership.
In Sri Lanka, the two issues are almost impossibly entangled because the human rights violations have been committed in a morally just military campaign of the Sri Lankan Sinhala-dominated army of a democratically elected Government against the most brutal and well-organised terrorism of the Tamil Tigers, and whose outfit was financed by a narcotics and money laundering international network.
In such a milieu, there are no clear winners and losers. Hence, a UN sponsored and enforced solution or a Nuremburg Trial-type resolution of the second issue is so counter-productive that it could lay the foundation for the emergence of the same problem that existed pre-2009 but with the possibility of deepening and festering the wounds of the insurgency war.
Hence, in my view, the UNHRC session not be devoted to ensuring the passage of a censuring and blistering Resolution which cannot be enforced in Sri Lanka, in view of the clear division in the veto-holding members of the UN Security Council.
Without UNSC backing by way of a Resolution, an UNHRC Resolution is not even worth the paper on which it is written. Hence the British PM’s threat at CHOGM to enforce human rights justice by external intervention is laughable.
Instead, I suggest the mover of the Resolution at next March UNHCR session — the United States, India and China as members — should engage Sri Lanka and persuade the leadership to secure a commitment for internationally prevalent and accepted devolution of the Sri Lankan Constitution. And the devolution should be consistent with the cultural ethos of the Sri Lankan mainstream.
While the concept of rigid federal autonomy, in my view, is alien to the Hindu-Buddhist cultural ethos of the majority of the people of the South Asian nations, plurality is the foundation of the culture of the sub-continent. This is why the SAARC nations have been by and large democratic and held Constitutional mandated periodic elections and peaceful transfer of power.
Hence, a future government of India should take the initiative, and put forward a Resolution before the UN Human Rights Commission, to begin bilateral discussion with Sri Lanka, and support back-channel efforts to work out a mutually acceptable Resolution.
Proposal for reconciliation
There are many proposals on the desk of the Sri Lankan President, so I see little point in giving another fully structured proposal. Rather I shall concentrate here on certain fundamentals of any viable and mutually acceptable reconciliation between the Sinhala majority and the Tamil minority, the core of which is devolution of powers under the Constitution:
First, no proposal for reconciliation can be pushed for acceptance in Sri Lanka from abroad, whether from India, or United Nations or from any European busybody. The proposal must emerge indigenously in Sri Lanka after full democratic consultations with the stakeholders, none of whom shall have a veto, and adopted by the Sri Lanka Parliament by way of a resolution or, if necessary, by a Constitutional amendment.
Second, the final reconciliation proposal should be based on the draft prepared by the Joint Select Committee of the Sri Lankan Parliament; so far the Tamil National Alliance has been boycotting. Now that a former Supreme Court Judge has been elected by a huge mandate as the CM of Northern Province, it should be possible for TNA to enter the Parliamentary process.
Third, the Sri Lanka’s Constitution may provide for provinces but yet remains Unitary in character in the sense that the Parliament will have power under the Constitution to dismiss and take over the administration of a State for specified contingencies such as a state being unable to enforce the relevant provisions of the Constitution.
Fourth, Sri Lanka by a Constitutional Amendment become a Union of States, with exclusive and concurrent power delegated under the Constitution for the Union and the States to exercise and accordingly, a Union, Concurrent, and State Lists will be incorporated in the Constitution enumerating the subjects under the three categories.
Fifth, the Chief Minister as Head of the state government should have primary responsibility to maintain public order through a Central Reserve Police and a contingent of the Armed Forces stationed in a special conclave in the state to intervene for the maintenance of public order whenever the President determines with ex-post facto approval of the Parliament that a situation has arisen that requires such an intervention.
Sixth, the Parliament enact an amendment to the Constitution to empower the Union to appoint Special District Magistrates whenever necessary and whose power will supersede the orders issued in exercise of State Magistrates power to maintain public order.
Agenda for India’s youth
Dr Subramanian Swamy
ACCORDING to me, India is at the crossroads of destiny today: Either we take the path to break out of shackles acquired from a millennium of occupation of the nation by foreign religion-driven invaders, and cemented by Nehru and his successor-clones as Prime Ministers, or we continue tread on the road to further assimilate these shackles in our mindset and ultimately again surrender to our foreign tormentors.
What are these shackles? These are four dimensional:
(i) A bogus foreign imposed concept of Indian identity that has made youngsters get divided on artificial distinctions such as varna, jati, region and language. Hence on our Agenda we must shape and wield our youth into a united Virat Hindutva—imbibed Hindustani.
(ii) A reluctance to retaliate against terrorists, hijackers, brutalisers of the women, and other aggressors for fear of disturbing their personal status quo, or risk of losing what we have left. As a consequence we have become passive and docile instead of having virat gunas, of courage, sacrifice, and tenacity.
(iii) India has a huge youth population which make us a strong candidate for a demographic dividend. But our rudderless youth imbibed in Nehruism is increasingly fixated on material progress even at the cost of sacrificing spiritual values, leading youth to become greedy for cash to throw around, and to accumulate wealth by hook or crook, thus become corrupt, and soon degenerate.
(iv) A lack of an Indian language for a national idiom of communication, the lack of which is forcing us to communicate in a foreign language with each other across the states. This makes for low grade titillation and night club brawls as the currency of modernisation, and by peer pressure compelling thereby our youth to become westernised and immoral.
How then to unshackle ourselves and India become Virat Hindutva—imbibed Hindustan?
(1) Indian Identity
In today’s India as a nation state, youth are confused if India is a British imperialist by-product, or is an ancient nation of continuing unbroken civilisation. In other words, is the word ‘India’ used the same way that we today use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Europe’ to denote a sub-continental region of separate nations and cultures, or was India always a nation of one culture of a people with a common history?
The battle to settle the answer to this question is on today between the nationalist Indian and the internationalist liberal or how to be a nationalist Indian and keep at bay the internationalist liberal of Nehru’s vintage.
We are one indigenous people according the recent DNA genetic studies. Every nation thus must have an identity to be regarded distinct. The youth of India have to be inculcated with that outlook and thus accept Hindutva as the foundation of India’s culture.
Following Samuel Huntington’s contribution to definition of an identity of the two components: Salience, which is the importance that the citizen attributes to national identity over the other many sub-identities. Second, Substance, which is what the citizens think they have in common, and which distinguishes them from others of other countries.
Salience in India is imbedded in the concept of Chakravartin, which Chanakya had spelt out with great clarity, while Substance is what Hindus have always searched for and found unity in all our diversities in, thanks to our spiritual and religious leaders, especially most recently Swami Vivekananda and Sri Paramacharya of Kanchi Mutt.
And that substance in Indian identity invariably is the Hindu-ness of our people, which we now call as Hindutva. Thus our Agenda for Change must include the youth accepting that an Indian is one who is a Hindu or one who acknowledges that his ancestors are Hindus. This concept would include willing Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews. Thus, religion of any Indian can charge, but not the Hindu-ness or Hindutva.
We should invite Muslims and Christian youth to join us Hindus on the basis of this common ancestry or even their voluntary return to our fold as Hindus, in this grand endeavour as Hindustanis, on the substance of our shared and common ancestry.
For this we have to jettison our adherence to birth-based varna and jati which blocks re-coverts to Hinduism from assimilation in Hindu society.
Hindutva has to be inculcated in our people from values and norms that emerge out of a Hindu renaissance, that is, a Hindu theology which is shorn of the accumulated but unacceptable baggage of the past, as also by co-opting new scientific discoveries, perceptions and by synergising with modernity.
Deendayal Upadhyaya outlined how to modernise the concept of Hindutva as follows:
“We have to discard the status quo mentality and usher in a new era. Indeed our efforts at reconstruction need not be clouded by prejudice or disregard for all that is inherited from our past. On the other hand, there is no need to cling to past institutions and traditions which have outlived their utility”. This is the essence of renaissance.
This is the only way that Hindustan can become a modern Hindu Rashtra.
(2) Virat Hindutva
Patriotic Hindu youth should understand the present structural limitation in the theology of Hinduism, that is individualism, is mistakenly taken as apathy, but it is now required of us to find ways to rectify it for the national good.
It is worthy of notice that, recognising this limitation, Hindu spiritual leaders in the past have from time to time come forward to rectify it, whenever the need arose e.g., as the Sringeri Shankaracharya did by founding the Vijayanagaram dynasty or Swami Ramdas did with Shivaji and the Mahratta campaign. Such involvement of sanyasis is required even more urgently today.
In fact, this is the real substance of India as Swami Vivekananda had aptly put it when he stated that: “National union of India must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces. A Nation in India must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune…. The common ground that we have is our sacred traditions, our religion. That is the only common ground… upon that we shall have to build.”
(3) Demographic Dividend
When a country starts having economic development, population growth begins to accelerate not because families start having more babies but because infant mortality sharply declines and expectation of life rises—people start living longer. This means that the death rate of a developing country quickly declines and faster than the birth rate declines. This leads to an acceleration of population growth, and since 1951 till 2000 was regarded as a “problem”.
Today we no more refer to population growth as a problem but as a ‘demographic dividend’. Why? Because modern economic growth is not more about more capital and more employment, but about more innovation—news ways of combining capital and labour through new technology. For example the difference between the postman and email via internet.
India has the possibility of a demographic dividend because in the next several decades the average age of the country will be relatively young while the ratio of younger people to retired persons will be favourable. Young people from universities are the vehicles of new innovation.
India therefore must take steps such as educating its youth, fixing infrastructure and lowering corruption levels to bring this demographic dividend to fruition.
India thus has the potential for a demographic dividend, if its Agenda for Change calls for investment to educate its large young population for acquiring skills, in infrastructure, and works to stop corruption so that competition and merit can triumph over cronyism..
But there and pitfalls ahead: India’s developing story based on reaping the demographic dividend is now marred by some unintended developments, principally illegal immigration mostly Muslims from Bangladesh and the higher population growth of Muslims within the country.
Muslim society, if not ready to confront the orthodoxy of clerics, wallows in retrograde practices which retard economic growth. It is not poverty that is the reason for Muslim backwardness. From Tunisia to Indonesia, oil revenues have vastly reduced poverty to levels prevailing in developed countries.
Yet these countries have not produced any innovation worthy of note, or a world class university despite no shortage of funds, since they are cleric dominated nations. Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan at one stage inspired the thought that these nations would be trend setters in modernity, liberal tolerant thought, and gender equality. But one by one they have capitulated archaic practices, intolerance, and crude gender discrimination.
This is infecting Muslim majority areas such as Kashmir and Northern Kerala, and even in districts and town Panchayats. Hence, the illegal immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh and a fast growing Muslim population without it being willingly co-opted into the enlightened questioning Hindu ethos of India, would be a drag on economic progress of the nation, and later, become the enemy within. India’s most precious Demographic Dividend then would turn sour and divisive like in Lebanon.
That is why amongst Muslim youths in India it should be our Agenda for them to adopt the Hindutva ethos of a questioning mind and to proudly accept the truth that they are descendents of Hindus.
For all of us, national identity should be first priority and all other sub-identities of low priority.
(4) Developing Sanskrit as a Link Language
Sanskrit and the Devanagari script, in addition to the mother tongue and its script, will one day in the future, be Hindustan’s link language. In the Agenda for Change, the youth must be afforded the opportunity to learn Sanskrit as an alternative to Hindi.
All the main Indian languages have already a large percentage of their vocabulary common with Sanskrit. Even Tamil, which is considered as ancient, has 40 per cent words in common with Sanskrit. The scripts of all Indian languages are derived or evolved from Brahmi script. Hence, in the Agenda there has to be a commitment to re-throne Sanskrit with Devanagari script as virat Hindustan’s link language, and which is to be achieved through Hindi in a compulsory 3-language formula of mother tongue, Hindi, and English in all schools with a steady Sanskritisation of Hindi’s vocabulary till Sanskritised Hindi becomes indistinguishable from Sanskrit and thus replaced by the latter.
(The writer is former Union Law Minister)
Please refer the web link for original post:
The Italian Helicopter Sale Scam
In August 1999, just after the so-called Kargil military conflict, the Indian army made a strong plea for a high altitude flying helicopter, since the two combat areas where maximum Indian casualties took place was Tiger Hill at 18, 000 feet and Siachen at 17,500 feet. IAF Chetak and Cheetah could land at those heights but could carry only 4 combat troops per flight.
The IAF also pitched in for new generation helicopter to replace Mi-8 version for the VVIP ferrying, which was incapable of night flying and above 9000 feet.
With the parameters in mind, the IAF was authorized to issue a RFP, in March 2002. Four suppliers applied. After a preliminary analysis, three suppliers were selected for flight evaluation.
Agusta Westland’s A-101 failed to make the list after flight evaluation–because it could fly at 18, 000 feet and above. India’s swadeshi produced Dhruv helicopter could fly 20,000 feet, but was not certified at that time, and so it was never considered.
That left two—Russian Mi-172 and M/s Eurocopter EC-225. After Operational Requirements were considered, the Russian copter got disqualified. That left one choice—EC-225, which was therefore selected by the IAF. It was decided to order 8 helicopters.
Enter Brijesh Mishra. He, as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, called a meeting on November 19, 2003. He rebuked the IAF for not being cognizant of the needs of VVIP, who he observed rarely go flying above 14, 000 feet. He added that if even if they do, as Defence Minister George Fernandes used to, viz., fly to Siachen, then such VVIPs can used the Chetak.
Mishra made sure that IAF understood what he was saying by shooting off a letter dated December 22, 2003 to the IAF disapproving of the framing the Operational Requirements[ORs] without consulting him or SPG Chief on VVIP needs including the height of the helicopter entry door.
Exit NDA from union government and enter UPA. But Mishra’s letter was curiously honoured by the UPA government on the invisible informal direction, through the PMO, of Ms. Sonia Gandhi.
Therefore meetings were re-convened of the IAF, with PMO and SPG invited from March 2005, and the new ORs finalized in September 2006. The max heights were revised downwards to 4500 meters i.e., 14, 000 feet. It was also decided to order from 8 to 12 helicopters, with four specially decorated for VVIPs. A call for intent to buy was then issued. Six vendors responded.
Agusta Westland of Italy was back in the reckoning in the RFP along with five others. The formalities of testing and evaluation were gone through.
By February 2008, only two were left for choice: S-92 of M/s Sikorsky of US, and AW-101 of Agusta Westland of Italy[originally of UK, but which went bankrupt after selling helicopters to Pawan Hans in the 1980s. Italian government then bought it].
Field trials attended by the SPG as well disqualified the S-92 on the basis of a specially quality requirements [SQR]. Thereafter SPG Chief Wanchoo flew for two weeks visit to Italy in 2009 to give the Italians the good news—they had been selected thanks to the “rehanuma” Ms. Sonia Gandhi.
The deal worth over Euro 556 million was inked and sealed on February 8, 2010 after the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared a month earlier.
The nitty gritty of who gets what was worked out by Mr. Abhishek Verma, the son of the Hindi teacher of Ms. Sonia Gandhi. In gratitude for the Hindi taught, Ms. Sonia Gandhi agreed to become Patron of Verma Foundation AG, a benefactor of the deserving in the field of arms trade.
That bribes were paid in this deal is well established by the Italian government investigation. A 568 page Report prepared by Italian Special Police has been filed in the Milan Court which can be officially accessed by the CBI if they ask the Court with a Letter Rogatory[LR] and not by flying off for a jaunt as they have done lst week.
This Report accessed by me informally refers to a total bribe paid of Euro 51 million or about Rs 470 crores. Of this Rs 200 crores has been paid, reverentially referred to as “The Family”. The receivers are relatives of Ms. Sonia Gandhi.
The great facilitator in this deal, Mr Brijesh Mishra has a daughter, Jyotsna, married to an Italian belt manufacturer, who live in Italy. It needs to be found out she got anything. Brijesh Mishra in 2011 was decorated with Padma Vibhushan by our Rashtrapati.
What can we Indians do now? First, the CBI must be forced to take out a LR, and go to Milan to access the Italian documents. The government should set a SIT of CBI, ED, SFIO, RAW and IB under CBI chairmanship. Second, Abhishek Verma must be taken into custody for interrogation. Ex IAF Chief Tyagi must be also interrogated along with his relatives and intermediaries such as Aeromatrix. Third, Christian Michel must be traced through the Interpol and arrested for interrogation. Thereafter, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, and his two Italian aunties, Anushka and Nadia [on the duo’s next visit to India] should be questioned on whether they had met him before the deal was inked and sealed, in Dubai at Hyatt Hotel in the company of a Keralite liquor Dada. Fourth, one us Indian activists against corruption, such as Action Committee Against Corruption in India [ACACI] should go to the Supreme Court with a PIL and ask CBI to be monitored in its investigation. Fifth, the Defence Minister must invoke Article 23 of the Purchase Contract to suspend the purchases [only 4 of the 12 helicopters delivered so far] with a threat of cancellation if they don’t come clean on what happened. Finally, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh should tender a public apology for approving this corrupt deal in the CCS, knowing fully well what was happening.
Article also appeared in Organiser.
AGENDA on flaws of Juvenile law in India
The juvenile accused of the Delhi rape case is not a petty unlawful who could be reformed. Instead, he acted like a hardened criminal who knew what he was doing. Imagine if Ajmal Kasab was a minor: Would we have handled him with kid gloves?
Centuries ago, a great thinker called Plato had stated what has now become a real-life scenario in India, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
On the unfortunate evening of December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old girl, a budding physiotherapy student, and her male friend were awaiting a bus at the Munirka bus stand around 9:30 pm. One bus conductor invited the two youngsters to board his private chartered bus on the pretext of dropping them to their destination. Once the girl and her friend boarded the bus, they realised that the conductor was a malicious person who, with four others, started making lewd advances. The male friend tried to intervene but was overpowered and beaten up with an iron rod. The girl kept fighting but was hit hard and fell down.
Thereafter, all heavens fell on the poor girl. On the floor of the speeding bus, the bus conductor and the five others, including the driver, took turns to rape her. But this was not enough for the bus conductor: He raped the victim twice, once while she was unconscious due to the trauma inflicted on her. Then, he inserted an iron rod into her private parts to wrench out her uterus as well as intestines. He explained to his associates that it was necessary for the destruction of evidence. After an hour of this inconceivable savagery, the victim and her male friend were stripped naked and thrown out of the bus into the freezing winter night.
After some delay the victim was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital where multiple surgeries were done to save her life. She fought bravely to live and in great pain conveyed her mother to “never let that conductor escape from law”. But the damage was so severe that even transplants of her organs were of no avail. On December 26, the victim, who displayed indomitable spirit to live against all odds and her determination to punish the guilty, was sent to a Singapore hospital in a comatose state to avail better treatment. But it was already too late by then as the girl breathed her last on December 29, leaving behind a nation whose conscience was totally shaken by the brutality of the incident. Everyone thought if this could happen in the most secured zone of the Capital at a time when Delhi was buzzing with people, then no one was safe in the country.
A WILY CRIMINAL
But the question remains: Why do we need to tell the account which happened one-and-a-half months ago? The story needs reiteration because it tells us that the bus conductor, who now claims to be a minor (below the age of 18 years), is not a petty unlawful who could be reformed; instead, he acted like a hardened criminal who knew what he was doing; he committed the act eagerly and tried to destroy the evidence of his heinous crime.
Also, the fact that the bus conductor acted swiftly to claim his ‘minor-hood’ shows his cold, demented mindset. He himself told the police that he was a juvenile and hence enjoyed special protection and waiver from criminal law. The police at the inspector level were stumped. A hidden hand moved swiftly to make the police “respect the law”, which is codified for delinquents under the age of 18 years in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and as amended in 2006 and 2010.
Had this 18-year cutoff not been there, the accused would have been prosecuted under Section 83 read with Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and received a minimum punishment of seven years of imprisonment. But the trouble with the laws these days is that criminals know their rights better than their wrongs.
The accused was a few months short of 18 years of age and if we all acquiesce, he would not be prosecuted under IPC but “reformed and rehabilitated” in a homely atmosphere under Sections 2(g), 15 and 16 of the Juvenile Justice Act (2000), under which after a maximum of three years he would be let free. Even Ajmal Kasab, involved in the dastardly 26/11 Mumbai attacks, would have been treated ‘humanely’ had he attacked India when he was a few years younger.
The inspiration for this Act came from the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child 1989, the United Nation Standard Minimum Rules for Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules) 1985, and the United Nation Rules for Protection of Children Deprived of their Liberty 1990. India is a signatory of the above mentioned conventions and rules. The Preamble and the statement of objects and reasons of the Act state the same expressly and categorically.
This Act is a piece of “beneficial”, not criminal law, legislation and has been formulated to protect the innocence of our nation’s greatest asset — its children and youth. But in the current case, the extreme malice and depravity with which the accused has allegedly committed the crime shows that it is not the action of a juvenile delinquent who the law supposes to be of tender age and mind and not fully capable of being responsible for his actions, but rather these are actions of the most evil of men for whom this beneficial legislation clearly is not meant.
BETWEEN THE LINES
The question for the nation is: Should we allow the cold print of a law, the Juvenile Justice Act, framed for children committing crimes like pick-pocketing, bicycle theft, etc, be used unthinkingly to benefit, by exempting from prosecution under criminal law, those committing heinous crimes such as rape and murder, which cannot be committed unless the culprit knew what he was doing.
Also, the Act is not in complete consonance with these conventions and rules. The Beijing Rules 4(1) describes the concept of age of “Criminal Responsibility” as for which there are various factors which have to be considered in deciding when and at what age would a juvenile be held criminally responsible for his/her actions. These factors include but are not restricted to moral and psychological development, individual discernment and understanding, seriousness of the offence involved, record and previous history of the juvenile, etc. Furthermore, there is no blanket ban or prohibition in not holding the juvenile accused accountable for his offences.
Article 17.1(c) of the Beijing Rules state that even though endeavour is to be made to avoid incarceration in certain situations/offences, sentence of imprisonment has to be passed not only to punish the offender but also to protect public safety. The UNCRC 1989 and Beijing Rules 1985 recognised that neither there can be any hard-and-fast rule nor can there be a blanket protection solely on age criteria, and in appropriate cases criminal behaviour has to be punished with lengthy imprisonment.
In the United States, the Criminal Justice System recognises the concept of age of Criminal Responsibility and juveniles who are 14 years of age and above and guilty
of grievous crimes are held responsible for the same. They are tried under the Criminal Justice System like an adult. The law in England recognises the fact that knowledge and ability to reason are still developing, but the notion that a 10-year-old (the age of Criminal Responsibility) does not know right from wrong seems contrary to common sense in an age of compulsory education from the age of five, when children seem to develop faster both mentally and physically.
Thus, we need to read into the juvenile age limit of 18 years, the UN Convention ordained caveat, which India has already ratified in 1992 that this age limit is subject to the Beijing Rules 4(1) and ascertainment of the juvenile not being emotionally and intellectually mature to know what he or she was doing is necessary. This has already been incorporated in Rule 3 of the Juvenile Justice Act but surprisingly, because of the Law Ministry’s poor drafting, left out of the Act itself!
Hence, the UPA Government must issue an Ordinance to clarify that a juvenile accused as below 18 years is subject to satisfying Rule 4(1) of the Beijing Rules; otherwise, the juvenile accused will be tried under the IPC. The juvenile accused must be made an example of today to keep our faith in our legal system and to provide justice to the Delhi braveheart.
I conclude with the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “It would conduce to national progress and save a great deal of time and trouble if we cultivated the habit of never supporting the resolutions either by speaking or voting for them if we had not either the intention or the ability to carry them out.”
Parmacharya Sri Chandrashekhar Saraswati – God in human form
Parmacharya Sri Chandrashekhar Saraswati – God in human form
I have bowed before only one sanyasi in my life, and that is Sri Chandrasekhar Saraswathi, known to the world as the Parmacharya. It is not that I am arrogant or that I have no respect for sanyasis and sadhus. In fact I respect many sadhus in this country for their learning and social services. But my upbringing, first in an English convent school, and then ten years in USA had created a distance between me and traditional Hindu culture of bowing and prostrating before any elder, or anyone in saffron clothes. Therefore, I was the “modern” Indian, believer in science, and with little concern for spiritual diversions.
In fact till the age of 30, I had not even heard of a god like human being called Sri Chandrasekhar Saraswathi. It was a chance meeting with an Indian student at Harvard in his room in the university hostel, that I saw a picture of Parmacharya on top of this student’s TV set. I asked him: “Who is he? And why are you keeping his picture?” The student just avoided the question. I also forgot about it, except that Parmacharya shining smiling face in that photograph got etched in my memory. Six years later, as my Pan American Airways plane was about to land at Delhi airport during the Emergency, I saw that smiling Parmacharya’s face reappear before me for a brief second for no reason at that time. I was coming to Delhi surreptitiously to make my now famous appearance in Parliament and subsequent disappearance, while a MISA warrant was pending for my arrest in the Emergency. At that moment, as the plane landed, I resolved that whenever the Emergency gets over, I shall search for Parmacharya and meet him.
In 1977, after the Emergency was over, and the Janata Party in Power I went to Kanchipuram to see the Parmacharya. It was in sheer curiosity that I went. Some friends arranged for me to come before him. It was a hot June evening, and Parmacharya was sitting in a cottage, a few kilometers outside Kanchipuram. As soon as he saw me, he abruptly got up, and turned his back on me, and went inside the cottage. My friends who took me there were greatly embarrassed, and I was puzzled. Since no body including the other sadhus at that ashram had any idea what went wrong, I told my friends that we should leave, since Parmacharya was not interested in giving me “darshan”.
From the cottage, we walked a few hundred yards to where my car, by which I had come to the ashram, had been parked. Just as I was getting into the car, a priest came running to me. He said “Parmacharya wants to see you, so please come back”. Again puzzled, I walked back to the cottage.
Back at the cottage, a smiling Parmacharya was waiting for me. He first asked me in Tamil: “Do you understand Tamil?” I nodded. In those days, I hardly knew much Tamil, but I hoped the Parmacharya would speak in the simplest Tamil to make it easy to understand.
He then asked me another question: “Who gave you permission to leave my cottage?” The Tamil word he used for “permission” was of Sanskrit origin, which I immediately understood. So in my broken Tamil with a mixture of English words, I replied: “Since you turned your back on me and went inside the cottage, I thought you did not want to see me.” This reply greatly irritated the priest standing in attendance on the Parmacharya.
He said “You cannot talk like this to the Parmacharya”. But Parmacharya asked him to be silent, and then said that when he saw me, he was reminded of a press cutting he had been keeping in store inside the cottage and he had gone inside to fetch it.
“Here it is” he said. “Open it and read it. I opened the folded press cutting, and with some difficulty, I read the Tamil question answer piece printed in Dinamani Kadir, a magazine of Indian Express group. The press cutting had a photograph of me and below it the question asked by a reader: “Is the hero of the Emergency struggle, Dr.Subramanian Swamy a Tamilian?” And the answer given was, “Yes he is a native of Cholavandhan of Madurai District.”
Parmacharya asked me, “Is this your photograph, and is the answer given to the question correct?” I nodded. Then Parmacharya said: “Now you may go. But in the future when you come, you cannot leave till I give you permission to leave.” Everyone around me was naturally very impressed, that Parmacharya had given so much special attention especially since in those days, he often went on manuvvat (silence vow). As I left a sense of elation at the meeting with Parmacharya. I wanted to come back again. I could not understand why a “modern” person like me should want to see a sanyasi, but I felt the urge strongly.
A month later, the Tamilnadu Assembly elections were on, and I was passing Kanchipuram in the campaign rail. So I told the Janata Party workers to spare me some time to pay a visit to the Parmacharya.
When I again reached the same cottage, a priest was waiting for me. He said: “Parmacharya is expecting you.” I asked: “How is this possible, when I decided at that last minute to come, without appointment?” The priest replied. “That is a silly thing to ask. Parmacharya is divine. He knows every thing”.
Sure enough a radiant smiling Parmacharya received me. I thought that this time too, our meeting would last a few minutes, and after a few pleasantries, I can continue on my election campaign. But not so. Parmacharya spoke to me for 1-1 1/2 hours on all important subjects. He gave me guidelines on how to conduct myself in politics and what was necessary to protect the national interest of the country.
He told me that in politics, I should never bother about money or position, because both would follow me whenever an occasion demanded. But I should not be afraid to stand alone. He told me that all great persons of India were those who changed the thinking of the people from a particular set way of thought to a new way of thinking. “That is the permanent achievement for a politician, not merely becoming Minister or Prime Minister. Great persons, starting with Adi Shankara, to Mahatma Gandhi dared to stand alone and change the trend of people’s thought. But did either hold a government position?” he asked me. He said “If you dare to think out fresh solutions for current problems, without bothering about your popularity, and without caring for whether a government position comes to you or not, you will have my blessings.” When he said that I felt a strange sensation of happiness. I suddenly felt very strong.
During the period since my first meeting with the Parmacharya, I had thought a lot about him, heard his praise from so many people. From what I learnt and what I saw of him, I began to feel his divinity. There was no other human like him. If nothing else, he was one sadhu who did not bless Indira Gandhi during the Emergency when in the height of her power and at the height if the nation’s sycophancy, she came and prostrated before him. And yet when Indira Gandhi was down during the Janata rule, he received her and gave his blessings to her after she repented for the Emergency.
It is this thought, every time (that if I do something sincerely, and for what is for the good of the people) that Parmacharya’s blessings will be with me and see me through the interim period of public and media criticism and unpopularity, that has given me this courage that today even my enemies do not deny that I possess. In such endeavours, even though in the beginning when most thought that I was doomed, I came out it successful in the end because of his blessing.
In the next few instalments I shall, without drawing the Parmacharya’s name into the controversy, reveal many such initiatives that I took with his blessings. From 1977 to his day of Samadhi, I met the Parmacharya so many times and received his oral benediction and advice. But I never gave it publicity or got myself photographed. During his life time, I did not boast of my proximity to him either, although whenever I came to the Kanchi Mutt, always without appointment, he would see me. If he was asleep, he was awakened by his close helpers to whom he had obviously given instructions about me. There may not be another god in human form for another 100 years, but it was my honour to have known him and received his blessings. He may not be here today in human form, but because of what he had instructed me, I know and feel his is around.
Parmacharya – Part II
After wonderful discourse from Maha Periyawal Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswathi in 1977, I went to have Parmacharya’s darshan numerous times. Whenever I had a difficult question that I could not answer, I would go and ask him for guidance. He gave me audience also in abundance. I got to see him whenever I came to Kanchipuram, or at Belgam in Karnataka or at Satara in Maharashtra or wherever else he was. But I did not publicize these darshan sessions in the newspapers as some others were doing. This was greatly appreciated by the Mutt officials and pujaris.
When Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, defeating the Janata Party, I was upset, and wondered if Emergency would be declared again. So I went with a group of Janata workers to the Karnataka – Maharashtra border, where Sri Parmacharya was camping on his walking tour. When I reached him, he was sitting in a hut almost as if he was waiting for me. As soon as he saw me, he got up and started briskly walking to a nearby temple. I just stood there watching him. Soon he stopped walking and sent someone to ask me to come to him alone.
When I reached where he was standing, he said to me anticipating my question; “It is a good thing that Indira Gandhi has got an absolute majority. At this juncture, the country needs a stable government, and only Indira Gandhi is in a position to give that stability.” “But what if she declares another Emergency and tries to put us all in jail?” I asked.
To this question, Parmacharya only smiled and put his hand up in his known style of bestowing his blessings. I did not realize at that time, that Indira Gandhi had before elections, gone to Hubli in Karnataka where he was camping and prostrated before the Parmacharya. On her own, she had vowed to him and had said that if she came back to power, she will not repeat the mistakes of the past of declaring an Emergency. Then she asked for his blessings, which the Parmacharya had given by raising his hand and showing his palm.
As I was leaving, Parmacharya asked me if I could work to unite the opposition and include the communists in it. “Communists!” I asked in utter incredulity. I added: “The Soviet Union has just invaded Afghanistan (December 27, 1979), and are preparing to capture Pakistan, and then soon they will swallow India. How can we believe the Communists?”
“Not like that at all” said Parmacharya to me. He clearly gave me a hint that Communists will never be a danger to India. In fact he gave me a clear indication that in some years to come the Soviet Union will not be there at all. I just could not believe what I heard. But eleven years later, that is exactly what happened. The Soviet Union broke up in 1991 into 16 countries, a development no human being foresaw. Parmacharya was above human, a divine soul. He could see it. To this day I regret that I did not act on his advice because I spent nearly a decade (ten years 1980 -90) opposing Communism, little realizing that it was going to collapse of its own weight. I earned the Communists enmity for nothing. That is the only advice of Parmacharya I did not act on. On other occasions, I blindly followed whatever he told me. Of course, the golden rule with Parmacharya was that he would not on his own offer any advice, but when I asked him, he showed me the way. When my mind was made up on anything, I did not ask him what I should do. Of course if I did not have his blessings, I rarely succeeded.
In 1987 for example, I tried to land with some fisherman in the island of Katchathivu to assert the rights of fisherman under the Indo-Sri Lanka accord. MGR was Chief Minister then. He had me arrested in Madurai and put me up in Tamilnadu Hotel instead of Madurai jail. The then DGP, told me clearly that unless I give up the Katchathivu trip and agreed to return to Chennai, they would keep me under arrest. Those days I knew little criminal Law, so I agreed to return to Chennai not knowing my rights. After arriving in the city I drove to Kanchipuram and saw the Parmacharya. I told him of my humiliation and my inability to go to Katchathivu. Parmacharya smiled at me as if I was a child. He told me: “You go to Delhi and file a case in the Supreme Court against the arrest, and ask the court to direct the Tamilnadu government to make arrangements for you to go Katchathivu”.
So I flew that evening to Delhi. My wife is an advocate in the Supreme Court, so I asked her to draft my writ petition. She was shocked by my request, “The Supreme Court will laugh at you if you come directly on a question of arrest. You must first go before Magistrate in Madurai, then Sessions Court, the High Court, and then only to Supreme Court” she said.
I insisted that she draft the petition. So finally she said “As an advocate, I don’t want to look foolish in the Court. So I will draft your petition but the rest you do. I won’t associate with it.” But my blind faith in Parmacharya kept me going. With the petition filed, I appeared in the Court of the Chief Justice Venkataramiah. I arrived in the Court a few minutes before the Chief Justice took his seat. Many lawyers who recognized me met me to ask why I had come, they all laughed. All of them said: “Your Petition will not only be dismissed, but also the Chief Justice will pass remarks against your stupidity, and for wasting the time of the Supreme Court.”
When my Petition came up for hearing, a miracle happened. Chief Justice Venkataramaiah asked the Tamilnadu Counsel (then Kuldip Singh, who became a famous Judge himself later) why the Government had arrested me. Taken by surprise at the Petition not being dismissed, Kuldip Singh stammered. “Kuldip Singh went on to explain that a pro-LTTE mob was against me going to Katchathivu, and the LTTE had also issued a threat to finish me. Chief Justice Venkataramaiah then burst out at Kuldip Singh. He thundered “Are you fit to call yourself a democratic government? If mob wants to stop Dr.Swamy, you arrest the mob not Dr.Swamy.”
The Chief Justice then passed an order that the Government should make all the necessary arrangements for me to go to Katchathivu. No one in court could believe it. Some asked me: “Are you related to Venkataramaiah?” I am not only not related, but those days I did not even know him. But I had the blessings of Parmacharya, and I was doing as he asked me to.
That was the divine power of Parmacharya ; when he asked you to do anything, he also took measures to see that the right thing happened.
After the Supreme Court verdict, I met Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Parliament House. Kuldip Singh had already informed him of the court verdict. So he told me: “Why did you not speak to me first? I would have told MGR to allow you. In any case, when you plan to go to Katchathivu, the navy and air force will give you cover. But the fishing boat on which you travel has to be provided by you.”
On May 8, 1988, I landed on Katchathivu and planted the Janata Party’s saffron and green flag, and prayed at the St.Anthony Church there. As I approached the island, there were navel patrol boats on either side of my fishing vessel which I had taken on hire. Two air force planes were flying over me. I felt grand like a king. My salutations went to the Parmacharya. He made the impossible possible. From being arrested in Madurai to being royally escorted to Katchathivu, only Parmacharya could arrange.
Parmacharya- Part III
In 1981, I became successful in persuading the Chinese government in re-opening for Hindu pilgrims the route to Kailash and Manasarovar. After 3 years of persuading the Chinese, in April 1981 the Chinese strongman Deng Xiao Ping invited me to China to meet him. In that meeting, he told me that as a “special favour to me and my efforts and in recognition of my steady advocacy of improved Sino-Indian relations [ he used the term "lao peng yeou" 'meeting old friend' ] he was asking the officials to meet Indian counter parts to work out the arrangements for pilgrims to visit Kailash. Deng had in jest asked me “But you must go first”. He had said it jokingly, but I was keen to see Kailash and Manasarovar. So when I met Mrs. Gandhi in Delhi to tell her of my meeting with Deng, I told her that I will lead the first batch of pilgrims and that she should agree. She laughed and said “of course. I wish I could go too.”
The opening of Kailash and Manasarovar had been considered impossible by our Foreign Ministry officials. China is a communist country and Kailash and Manasarovar is in the most sensitive area of Tibet. Therefore how could China allow Indians, even if as Pilgrims, to walk into Tibet? But the impossible happened because throughout the three years of talks with the Chinese, Parmacharya not only gave his blessings to me for this venture but encouraged me. “We must be friends with China and Israel” he would keep telling me whenever I came to him for darshan and anugraha (blessings).
When the Kailash and Manasarovar re-opening was announced, the first batch consisting of 20 pilgrims was slated to go in the end of August. That meant in 30 days of walking from the end of August to late September. By the time, we return, it would be end of September. At those heights in the Himalayas, September meant snow and ice cold temperatures, and that we would have to walk! Foreign ministry officials told me that since the route had not been in use for nearly 25 years, it would be a rough walk. We would have to clear bushes on the way, and perhaps encounter animals and snakes!
To make matters worse, Inderjit Gupta, then a CPI Lok Sabha MP, and good friend of many years, asked my wife to prevent me from going on this trip since I would not return. “It requires mountaineers to trek this route, not people like us” he told her. Others told me that I should think of my family (of two daughters then age 11 and 8) and not venture on such foolishness. In fact one BJP MP, perhaps more out of jealousy than concern, told me that it is punya (blessing) to die on the route to Kailash. If that were so, I wondered, why not a single BJP or RSS leader has ever gone on a pilgrimage to Kailash? Perhaps because there are no Muslims there, nor a Masjid to demolish! BJP is anti-Muslim but not pro -Hindu, so Kailash means nothing of political value to them.
But the net result of all this was that a scare was created in my family and social circles. Many urged me to forget going to Kailash. I had done my duty, they said, in getting the route opened, but it is not necessary to go there. My daughters reminded me of my promise made the previous year that I would be with them on my birthday, which fell on September 15th. The previous year I had to be away to address a meeting in Bihar. If I went to Kailash I would again not be in Delhi on my birthday. This troubled me.
So anguished and confused by all this I flew to Bangalore, and drove down to where Parmacharya was camping. He was reading a book when I saw him. He put down his book and glasses, and asked me what brought me to him. “Kailash and Manasarovar route has been opened with your blessings. I have been asked by our Government to lead the first batch of pilgrims. But all my colleagues in Parliament are scaring me with stories of what can go wrong with me on this hazardous trip”. Parmacharya said in a comforting voice “Nothing will happen. You go and come. The opening of Kailash route is a great achievement for our country”
“I have only regret. That I will not be able to be with my daughters in Delhi on my birthday” I added. “When is your birthday?” He asked. “September 15th. But the journey back will not be completed before September 30th.” Parmacharya only smiled. He puts his palm in blessing and merely said: “you go and come”. I left on September 1st on my journey.
My journey to Manasarovar lake and then for a darshan of Kailash went very smoothly thanks to Parmacharya’s blessings. I returned to the Tibet-India border on September 13th, and camped that night at Kalapani, a military cantonment on the Indian side. That night, faraway from Delhi on the Himalayas, I could not help thinking of my daughters and my promise to them to be with them on my birthday. It would be another 15 days of walking before I could reach the plains and then Delhi.
Next morning at breakfast, the camp commandant came to me with a telex from Delhi. It said that on Prime Minister’s instruction, an air force helicopter would be coming that morning at 10 AM from Bareilly to pick me up and take me back to Bareilly, from where I will be taken by car to Delhi. I was thrilled. This meant that I would be in Delhi on September 14th evening, and be with my family on the next day for my birthday! What a miracle!
I was that time just an MP, and that too from the opposition. And yet this privilege was extended to me. The only reason for this was the blessing of Parmacharya. With this blessing, any miracle could happen. I was honoured to witness it. I prayed to Lord Shiva and Durga at the Kalapani temple at 18,000 feet above sea level, with snow all around. I said a special thanks to Parmacharya. When I returned to Delhi, and thereafter went to see Parmacharya, I explained all that happened. He merely smiled.
In 1986, I was passing Kanchipuram, so I made a detour and went to the Kanchi Mutt. Parmacharya was there giving Darshan to hundreds of people. I also stood in the crowd. But the pujaris saw me and whispered to the Parmacharya that I had come. So he asked me to come close and sit before him. After the crowds had left, he looked at me as if to ask me why I had come. The Babri Masjid issue then was hotting up, and so I said Parmacharya that I was planning to visit Ayodhya to study the situation. I asked the Mahaswami what stand should I take.
Parmacharya looked at me very sternly and said “you are a politician. Why do you have to take a stand on a religious issue? You stay out of it. You spend your energies on improving our economy or our relations with China and Israel.” I was taken aback by his stern remarks. But I persisted and said “At least the Government will have to take a stand”. He said: “Let the government make it possible for the religious leaders of both religions to come together and work out a compromise. But you stay out of it.
I then told Parmacharya that my friend, and leading Babri Masjid agitator Mr.Syed Shahabuddin wanted to see his holiness, and whether I could do bring him next time. The pujaris around the Parmacharya protested. They said that Shahabuddin was anti-Hindu, and he should not be allowed inside the Mutt.
The Parmacharya waved away their objections. He gave me permission to bring him to the Mutt. Then he said to the Pujaris. “Only Subramanian Swamy knows the art of befriending Americans, Chinese and Israelis at the same time. He can also be a friend of Shahabuddin.” Then turning to me, he said: “Keep this quality. Never be afraid of making friends with anyone.” I have followed this advice despite heavy criticism from the media. I have made friends with Morarji, Chandrasekhar and Indira Gandhi after terrific quarrels with them. Sometimes one needs to quarrel to come to an understanding of each other’s strength. Generally, I love to oppose those in authority because for a strong democracy, opposition is necessary. But Indian society being feudal, those in power underestimate who oppose them. And in my case, people in power have always underestimated me because they think I am alone. But they don’t realize I have friends everywhere, in all political parties and in all important countries. That is why I have won all my battles against Government. Because I have never betrayed anyone, these friendships remain for a long time. In 1990, I could have betrayed Chandrasekhar and fallen for temptation offered by Rajiv Gandhi to become PM. But when I discouraged this idea, Rajv Gandhi’s esteem of me and trust in me went sky high. Because of the trust I develop my friends from all over the world confide in me. People ask me often “How do you get so much accurate information”. This is the answer. I have secret friends and open enemies. Most other people have the opposite: secret enemies and open friends.
Thus Shahabuddin trusted me to bring him to the Mutt with honour. In early 1987, I brought Shahabuddin to see Parmacharya.
Parmacharya -Part IV
I brought the fierce Muslims-rights agitator Mr.Syed Shahabuddin to Kanchipuram to have a darshan of the Parmacharya. Shahabuddin had told me many a times that he had a urge to see the Parmacharya. He never explained why. Nor I asked him why since I assumed everyone would like to see a living God on earth.
Although Shahabuddin is a strict Muslim, he accepted two fundamental points defining a patriotic Indian Muslim. The first point, a patriot would accept that though he is a Muslim, his ancestors are Hindus since 99.9 percent of Muslims of India are descendents of converts. Muslims who think that their ancestors are Persians or Arabs or from Tajikistan, can never be patriotic Indians, because they live in a myth. They are psychologically uprooted from India. The second point is that although the present day Indian culture is composite, in which all communities and religions have contributed, the core of this culture is Hindu in character and substance. Hence even if one changes one religion, it need not lead to a change of culture. Religion is personal, culture belongs to the nation.
Shahabuddin had accepted the two points and that is why I defended him against the charge that he was communal. But the RSS [which is not pro-Hindu, but merely anti-Muslim], saw in Shahabuddin a convenient hate figure, and dubbed him a “second Jinnah”. Naturally bigots of the RSS protested when they came to know that I was bringing Shahabuddin to meet Parmacharya. When we arrived at the Kanchi Mutt, the Mutt-Pujaris told me that Parmacharya had wanted me to bring Shahabuddin right into the inner part of the Mutt where he was staying. We were made to sit before a shut door, and told Parmacharya would come soon.
The door was opened by Parmacharya himself. When Shahabuddin saw him, he started to weep, with tears rolling down his cheeks. He folded his hands in a ‘namaste’ and said “Oh my Lord Parmacharya, please save my community and save the nation”. I was taken aback [Much later when we were back on our way to Chennai, I asked Shahabuddin why he broke down , before the Parmacharya. He simply said that he could not control himself when he saw the radiant face of the Parmacharya.]
Parmacharya asked Shahabuddin what troubled him. He said “The Babri Masjid has been shut to Muslims by a Court Order and I pray to you to help us open it to us”. [At that time, 1988 there was no talk of its demolition by RSS]. Parmacharya told him that Hindus and Muslims should work out a compromise. He suggested a number of proposals, such as joint prayers, or Hindu Prayers on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Muslims Namaz on other days with Sunday being denied to both. All these compromise proposals, Shahabuddin said, would be unacceptable to devout Muslims.
I added in my proposal. Koran prohibits Namaz in constructions built by demolishing other religions holy places : therefore if it can be proved that a temple was demolished by Babar’s men to build the mosque in Ayodhya, and then the Muslims themselves should agree to the Babri Masjid demolition.
Parmacharya looked at me with a benign smile. He had earlier warned me to stay away from this issue, instead asked me to concentrate on political and economic issues. But Shahabuddin quickly agreed that Koran prohibited reading namaz in such places, but contested that Babri Masjid was built on a temple site. He said he had construction blue prints to prove his point. Two hours of discussion had taken place, and therefore the Mutt pujaris were getting impatient. A big crowd was waiting for the Parmacharya’s darshan. So Parmacharya closed his discussion by asking Shahabuddin to bring his blue prints and come again. Surprisingly, again Shahabuddin prostrated before him, and then we both left.
Shahabuddin never came back again. But two years later, I became the Law Minister. I confronted the Muslim organizations with a proposal that the Government would appoint a Supreme Court Judge in a one man Commission of inquiry to determine whether or not there was a temple before the Babri Masjid was built. And if the conclusion was that there was a temple, then Muslims must agree to give up the Masjid. If not, then the Hindus would vacate the masjid.
Surprisingly, while all the Muslim organisations agreed to my proposal, the fanatic Hindu organizations refused to agree. Our government did not last long enough for me to go ahead with the Commission of Inquiry anyway disregarding the fanatics. Nor could I persuade the successor Narasimha Rao Government to follow my proposal. It would have amicably resolved the issue. But alas, Babri Masjid was finally demolished in bitterness.
Perhaps Parmacharya was telling me not to get involved from the beginning because he foresaw that it would be demolished as a part of destiny. If Babar’s violence was undone 450 years later, then RSS violence on December 6, 1992 could also be undone someday, but I hope, by understanding and love. Otherwise the cycle of violence will continue in the country, with the Hindus and Muslims not reconciled to each other.
In April 1990, I received an urgent summons from Parmacharya to come to Kanchipuram. So I rushed. When I saw him, he merely smiled, put up his palm in blessing and then waved me on to go away! I was puzzled. Why was I asked to rush to the Kanchi Mutt from Delhi, merely to be sent away? The Mutt pujaris told me that on Parmacharya’s instructions the Mutt had decided that I was to share the dais with Rajiv Gandhi on the occasion of Parmacharya’s 97th birthday in May that year, to be celebrated in Kanchipuram. It turned out that no other politician except Rajiv and myself were to share the platform. It was a great honour, not only that I would be with Rajiv, but more that it was on Parmacharya’s instructions. But why did he so honour me?
That May meeting turned out to be crucial for me, because it created a rapport with Rajiv which I did not have before. Rajiv too had great regard for the Parmacharya and therefore his selection of me to pair with Rajiv, meant for Rajiv that I could be trusted. From that date onwards, Rajiv trusted me blindly with no reservations.
Parmacharya thus not only altered my outlook, but he also ensured from time to time that I came on the right path. Once for example, in 1992, the two junior swamis, Jayendra Saraswati and Vijendra Saraswati had asked me to collect some funds for a Ghatikasthanam library that they wanted to build in honour of the Parmacharya. They even printed letter heads to make me the “Patron” of the project, but insisted on a donation.
With great difficulty, I collected Rs.15 lakhs and gave it to them as Janata Party’s gift. When Parmacharya came to know about it, he sent me a query: “Why should you donate to the Mutt when you are yourself begging for funds from the people to run your party? Please do not do it in the future”. Since then I have stopped giving donations to any cause. Beggars cannot donate.
Naturally, when Parmacharya attained samadhi in 1994, I felt like an orphan in public life. HE was always there when I had a dilemma to set things right. But I had the God’s grace to see him, a living divinity, for 17 years. Many of his opinions and directions I can never reveal, because he said them knowing fully well that I will keep it to myself. But by guided and listening to him, I have become so strong mentally as a person, that I feel that no one can cow me down or demoralize me no matter how bad a situation I am in.
Parmacharya taught me that the easiest way to finish an enemy is to make him a friend. He had urged me not to hate the sinner, but the sin. Of course, sometimes the easiest way is not available because of ego clash, and so the sinner has to fought to be made to realize the sin. But one has to keep in mind that there is a God’s scheme, redemption for the sinner what we call as prayaschitam. The ultimate revenge belongs to the divine. As human beings we have no right to revenge; only self-defence and righteous struggle. As Hindus, this is easy to understand because we believe in the law of Karma. People who see me fighting fiercely with Indira Gandhi, Chandrasekhar and Jayalalitha and then working with them get confused or even disgusted at what they perceive as my opportunism. I do not make up with those I quarrel with at height of their power, but when they cease to be in office. The reason for this flexibility in making friends out of enemies of yester year is the advice that Parmacharya once gave me in 1977: “India is plagued by divisions, and the egos of our rajas had played havoc with our national security, making it easy for foreigners to conquer us. Therefore, never hesitate to create unity, without of course compromising on the fundamental concepts of morality. India has never forgotten those who unite the nation.” I have defined three such fundamental moral principles.
These three fundamental concepts of morality are
I shall not speak lie, even if I withhold truth.
I shall practice what I shall preach.
What I do will be transparent for all to see. I consider myself therefore free to plan my political strategy as I see best, without regard to criticism from my political opponents, but within these three moral limits.
Our enemy : Terrorism
Our enemy is terrorism…
The killer instinct & my enemies
I am quite embarrassed when perfect strangers accost me nowadays in air flights to ask me who is my “next target” for political annihilation; or when my friends meet me in the Central Hall of Parliament to inquire if I could set my “gun sights” on someone they do not like, as if I am some kind of Clint Eastwood who single-handedly can destroy someone, or at least his reputation.
I am embarrassed because I was brought up instead to be a soft intellectual, who having secured a Ph.D in Economics at Harvard, became a teacher in the same world famous university for ten years, and who went to do research jointly with two of the world’s most famous economists Nobel Laureates Paul A Samuelson and Simon Kuznets. I was so well-regarded that- when I was defeated in my third-term Lok Sabha bid from Bombay- Harvard University , despite my absence from academics for 15 years – promptly re-invited me to come back to teach (which I did for two years, 1985-86).
Now this intellectual attainment does not square up with the Hollywood Clint Eastwood image, nor am I happy to have that image. I am in politics for certain well defined ideology, which ideology happily has been internationalized today by all the major political parties. For the last 25 years I have advocated that the Indian Government adopt a market economy, rectify the pro-USSR tilt and balance out the foreign policy to befriend USA, Israel and China, and to motivate a cultural renaissance especially in the Hindu community.
But media appetite is not for such heavy ideological matters. Thus, for no fault of mine, my quarrels and political blood-spilling have received much more media attention. And ever since I campaigned and was successful in dethroning Jayalalitha, at the heels of demolishing Ramakrishna Hegde, these unwanted enquires about my “next target” have become legion.
I have as a philosophy never ‘targeted’ anyone. I have only defended myself against harassment, sidelining or attempted political elimination. But my defence has been vigorous, systematic, and effective to the point that the attacker has been either immobilized, or discredited, or politically disabled. In turn, this had tended to create the media impression that I am “making trouble”, when in fact as the prey I have not simply taken things lying down. But I have never made the first ‘strike’ against anyone.
As a further norm of my philosophy, I have never sought to demolish any honest critic; nor it is my duty to expose to destroy any and every corrupt person. It is the duty of the government and of the people to elect such a government, to prosecute all corrupt persons without fear or favour. As a public person, I can effectively fight corruption only with the state apparatus. Without government office, an individual can do only so much. Therefore one has to be selective. Obviously those corrupt persons who seek to harm me are the obvious candidates for selection.
It has been my lot throughout my life to be confronted and to confront the corrupt and powerful. As a student for my Masters degree in the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) Calcutta, the then Chairman, P.C.Mahalanobis took a dislike to me because he and my father were rivals in the government statistical organisation. Mahalanobis was a corrupt leftist. I had come to the ISI as an innocent student with a brilliant first class B.A. Honours degree in mathematics. But Mahalanobis’ dislike of me filtered down to the professors. For no reason except to please him, they began failing me in every subject. A ruined career stared me in the face. So I decided to retaliate ( a foolish resolve on first thought, since I was then a 19 year old student facing the darling of the Left, USSR and Nehru: P.C.Mahalanobis). But I dropped everything, parked myself in the library, and read whatever Mahalanobis had written as a scholar. I found that his celebrated Second Five Year Plan model, the so-called Mahalanobis model, was actually stolen from M.A.Feldman, an obscure Soviet economist of the 1930s. This discovery I could not use against Mahalanobis however, because neither the USSR nor the then docile Indian press would take notice. But I discovered that Mahalanobis’s magnum opus something called ‘Fractile Analysis’, had recently been published in a scholarly international journal. That research was, I found worthless when scrutinized under the microscope of modern mathematics. It was, literally, well-known earlier research re-hashed. Mathematics laid bare the plagiarism. Mahalanobis was too big to be challenged by other Indian scholars. But I had nothing to lose.
Naturally when I wrote out my critique and set it to the journal, it was hot stuff. The journal published it, and asked Mahalanobis for a rejoinder. He had none. His reputation abroad was therefore in tatters. He never recovered from it. A 19 year old writing out complex mathematical equations was a novelty for Harvard’s Economics Department to whose notice the journal article came. They offered me a scholarship for a Ph.D Course. My ruined career prospects did a 180 turn! I never looked back thereafter. Had I not been cornered like a cat, I would never have ventured to demolish Mahalanobis.
The same problem I faced, years later, with Ramakrishna Hegde. Hegde belonged to that class of politicians who practice bogus humility to impress the middle class, who engage in sham intellectualism by having articles and books ghost written for a price to make society ladies going ‘ooh aah’ at the India International Centre, and behind it all are mediocre crooks.
From day 1 of the Janata Party formation in 1977, Hegde was consumed by jealousy. I was already a middle class hero then because of my anti-Emergency struggle, and was a former Harvard University Professor to boot, of genuine intellectual credentials. I did not have to be synthetic in anyway for all the things that Hegde had to be. From 1977 to 1984, he harassed me in Indian style par excellence: pin pricking. Finally he managed to put me against Chandrasekhar, who in a fit of rage as he was prone to, expelled me from the Janata Party. Hegde went on to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Chandrashekar’s political largesse, and then turned against him too. I returned to the Janata Party after patching up with Chandrasekhar. During the period of six years 1983-1988 as Chief Minister, Hegde had lost his head. His media con-tricks made him a middle class hero. But behind the stage, he was committing one corrupt act after another in the mistaken belief that if had Rs.1000 Crores in loot, he could buy his way to the Prime Ministership. By the time I returned to the Janata Party, I had studied and documented three of Hedge’s major cases of corruption or misuse of power which I made public: Telephone Tapping [later proved by a parliamentary probe], Bangalore Land Grab for his son-in-law (1000 acres) [later proved by Justice Kuldip Singh Commission], and Illegal Commission collecting in the sale of torpedoes in the HDW submarine [confirmed by Corp of Detectives (COD) Karnataka Government investigation]. Since 1990, when V.P.Singh asked him to quit his Planning Commission Deputy Chairmanship after the Kuldip Singh Commission Report was submitted, Hegde has remained a political leper. He cannot now get out that rut, because the synthetic moral halo that he contrived to wear has vanished.
The fight with Ms.Jayalalitha was the toughest of my life. It also took the longest (3 – 1/2 years) time. It was the toughest because unlike other ‘targets’ there was no counter veiling power to ensure some kind of ‘level-playing field’. In case of Mahalanobis, it was the international community of scholars, whom I could address. They did not depend on Mahalanobis for research grants. Indian scholars in economics were a castrated lot since they depended on the government for grants and positions. In Hegde’s case, Rajiv Gandhi’s central government was a buffer. If I came up with queries, they were ready to answer, as in the case of Telephone Tapping or in appointing Kuldip Singh Commission. In Ms.Jayalalitha’s case, all the political parties were politically wooing her, or eyeing her booty. That is why practically every party from BJP to CPM filed affidavits in the Supreme Court supporting her stand that a Governor has no locus stand to give sanction to prosecute a Chief Minister after Dr.Chenna Reddy had given me sanction to prosecute Ms.Jayalalitha. Now they are to rue their stand in the Laloo Yadav issue. The Central government headed by Narasimha Rao was most reluctant to be of help, because Mr.Rao’s son and confidants were all being effectively ‘serviced’ by her people. When Mr.Rao appointed me to head a GATT Commission in 1994, even Moopanar and Chidamabaram tried to organize a signature campaign in the Congress Parliamentary Party against my appointment because it would, in Chidambaram’s words send a wrong signal to Ms.Jayalalitha, with whom they were at that time as late as February 1996 on best behaviour. Such was the array of forces in favour of Ms.Jayalalitha. That is why it was so tough to fight her. During my struggle against her, Karunanidhi hid in Gopalapuram most of the time.
But the breakthrough in my campaign against Ms.Jayalalitha came by the inexorable law of fermentation: if you keep hammering away, and it is the truth, then the people will sooner or later revolt. Day in and day out, I brought out one fact out after another. My old school boy and teacher-student network fed me with document and data. Press conference and Court writ petitions did the rest, Ms.Jayalalitha’s attempt to foist false cases on me only re-affirmed the substance of my campaign against her. When the General Elections came, people spoke.
But Ms.Jayalalitha during her tenure as Chief Minister tried to get me to jail in a number of ridiculous cases. One was under TADA by faking a photograph, another was under the severe Protection of Civil Rights Act [PCRA] for abusing the scheduled castes– by calling the LTTE as an “international pariah!”, and yet another for attempting to murder her!! Each time the Supreme Court came to my rescue.
I had therefore no option but to go after my political predator, and immobilize her. But lacking a developed Party cadre, I could not cash the public popularity I thus got. The political zamindars (and in reality too), Karunanidhi and Moopanar came out of their hibernation, and harvested the wave I generated by my struggle, But they are no better than her. They are trying now to silence me by the same methods, only less skilfully. I am therefore again not without a target. Fortunately, each time my predators make the mistake of underestimating me. And I with each success, have acquired a more experienced killer instinct.
My friend turned Foe turned friend : Chandrashekhar
Chandrashekhar – Part I Subramanian Swamy Former Prime Minister
Former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar and I had known each other on a personal basis since 1974. Three years earlier in 1971, he had won my admiration by writing an editorial in a magazine, he was bringing out called Young Indian, in which he praised my book then just published titled Indian Economic Planning -An Alternative Approach. Mrs. Gandhi had denounced the book in Parliament as a “dangerous thesis”. My thesis was that socialism would not work in India, and would breed governmental corruption. If we wanted to remove poverty and develop nuclear weapons then we should give up our dependence on the Soviet model of governmental controls and move to market economy. I did not advocate like Rajaji a “free market”, but a market economy in which the government will have a role to play as an “umpire” between consumers and producers. But both consumers and producers will be free to act within simple rules. Rajaji had advocated the “survival of the fittest” principle, and saw no role for the government to protect the weak against the strong using unfair means.
In my book, I had also advocated that for our exports we should develop relations with Israel and China. Naturally my book brought a torrent of abuse from the communists who denounced me as an “American agent” because they could not answer my arguments. Time has proved me right because today we are moving towards a market economy and have improved our relations with Israel and China.
Chandrashekhar in his editorial understood my distinction between free market capitalist economy advocated by Swatantra Party and my concept of market capitalist economy. The former was for “free competition” and the latter for “fair competition”. Today I am against opening the doors blindly to multinational corporations because that “free competition” will kill our local industry due multinational’s access to capital which our industry does not have. But “fair competition” will ensure that if multinational have some advantage, the government provides some support (such as cheap credit) to local industry to make the contest or competition equal. I also believe that if Americans ask us to open the market for their capital, we should demand that they open their country to our labour to freely go there. Why should capital have free entry but not labour?
To hide these attractive nationalistic ideas, Mrs. Gandhi’s Congress and the Communists not only denounced me as an American agent, but got me removed from my Professor’s post at the IIT, Delhi (which post was restored to me in 1991 after 20 years by the Delhi Court). In these circumstances, for Chandrashekhar, then a Congress working committee and a friend of Indira Gandhi, to come out publicly in my support took all by surprise, but won my admiration for his courage.
I first met Chandrashekhar in 1974 at the Lucknow coffee house located in the famous Hazratbal area. In those days, politicians used to meet intellectuals in coffee houses. Five star hotels had not come into fashion. Both Chandrashekhar and I had been made candidates for Rajya Sabha by our respective parties. He was surrounded by Congress party workers and me of Jan Sangh. I went up to him and introduced myself to him. Congress party workers snarled at me for my anti -Congress statements. But Chandrashekhar got up from his chair and silenced them. He then introduced me to them as an original thinker to whom Congress should listen to.
After that Chandrashekhar met me often in Parliament and the friendship grew. It reached a peak during the Emergency, when he wrote glowingly about my daring escape from Parliament.
Chandrashekhar was made President of the newly formed Janata party in 1977, but because I had become a friend of Morarji, a strain developed in our relations. Because I remained steadfast with Morarji, and Chandrashekhar’s close circle contained two of the most poisonous minds in Indian politics — Vajpayee and Ramakrishna Hegde– the relation between us fluctuated and reached a flash point in 1984 when with Morarji’s backing I contested for the post of Janata party President against Chandrashekhar in the party polls. I was Deputy Leader in Parliament then. It was a literal Mahabharata with every newspaper giving front page coverage. Although I lost the election, I got 25 percent of the vote under very imperfect conditions of polling. Morarji refused to accept the verdict saying it was rigged. But Chandrashekhar’s circle knew that if not now, two years later at the next party poll, I would certainly be elected President of the party.
The modern Mantharas (Kaikeyi’s adviser in Ramayana) began to work on Chandrashekhar. Chandrashekhar suddenly announcing my expulsion from the party for six years, a few weeks before the Lok Sabha polls. Both Chandrashekhar and I were defeated for the same reason — we opposed operation Bluestar in the Amristar Golden temple.
In the mean time, Ramakrishna Hegde got re-elected to become the CM of the Karnataka government. Like Moopanar has become a media-favourite today, Hegde became the media darling. This went to his head and soon he began plotting against Chandrashekhar, and to remove him from the President ship of the party. This not only hurt Chandrashekhar because it was he who against the part wishes in 1983, had foisted Hegde as the CM over the claim of Deve Gowda. He also realized that till the time I was in the party, Mr.Hegde used to run to Chandrashekhar for protection, to save him from all the corruption charges that I had been collecting against Hegde (these charges were all proved later by the Justice Kuldip Singh Commission).
Therefore, one day in 1986, Mr.Jayant Malhoutra (now Rajya Sabha MP) came to see me. He was a very good friend of Chandrashekhar. He said that he had talked to Chandrashekhar, and he felt that now he (Chandrashekhar) understood why Hegde was so keen to get rid of me from the party. Malhoutra asked me that since Chandrashekhar realizes this, could not I and Chandrashekhar become friends again.
At first I protested. “How can I when he has expelled me for six years, and made me suffer?” But after some persuasion, I agreed on the principle that when we meet, it will be “bygones will be bygones” and we will think only of the future. Malhoutra talked Chandrashekhar on the phone and got his agreement.
We met in Chandrashekhar’s Bhondsi Ashram in February 1987. When he saw me, he became emotional and embraced me. He and I said nothing for sometime, sipping tea in his cottage. Then we talked of the past memories of JP. And finally, he said “Swamy no one can beat you in intelligence or in gathering information. I need your help, so does the nation. Let us work together again”.
Friendship was re-established as if nothing had happened these last few years. It was so firmly re-established that it never went sour again despite political differences; for example during my struggle against Ms.Jayalalitha, Chandrashekhar felt that I was making it easy for DMK to return to power. While he was against all the violence let loose against me, he had a deep conviction that DMK should not be facilitated to power. But despite this, our friendship has been unaffected.
Chandrashekhar -Part II
Once the friendship with Chandrashekhar was re-established, we began working together in a true spirit of friendship. In late 1987, I suggested to him that he had a chance to be PM, but for that he should expand the Janata Party base. I told him that the Charan Singh’s base was intact with his son Ajit Singh, and that he (Ajit) should be invited to merge his Lok Dal into the Janata Party. At that time, the Janata Party had a majority government in Karnataka under Ramakrishna Hegde as CM. With another 12 MPs in Lok Sabha, it can become the largest opposition party. The BJP had just 2 MPs. So I suggested to Chandrashekhar, that he should offer the Janata Party Presidentship to Ajit Singh, and get his party to merge in Janata . At first, Chandrashekhar was shocked by the suggestion, but I convinced him that Hegde had used the resources of the Karnataka government to mount a massive whisper campaign against him. Many newspapers were writing editorials to condemn Chandrashekhar for sticking to the Janata Party President’s post. Newspapers like the Hindu and Indian Express began painting Hegde as some kind of Messiah, a Mr.Clean, just as they have done recently with regard to Moopanar. It was clear that a campaign was on to make Hegde the Janata Party President, and then position him for the 1989 Lok Sabha elections as the Janata Party’s PM candidate.
Of course, I was against the idea because I had known that Hegde was an immoral character and a crook. I certainly was not going to allow him to become Prime Minister if it was in my power to stop him. So I convinced Chandrashekhar that he was anyway going to lose his Presidentship due to Hegde’s high voltage campaign. I also told him that after the merger of the Lok Dal with Janata, Ajit and I would jointly work to make him Prime Minister with in the next two years.
A good quality about Chandrashekhar is that if he is convinced about something, he acts swiftly. He does not hesitate thereafter. He thus quickly moved and called a Janata Working Committee Meeting to bring about the Lok Dal merger with the Janata Party. Hegde was so shocked by the speed of our action that he could not block the move. After all Janata Party was going to expand we argued, getting Lok Dal MLAs in UP, Bihar and Rajasthan to join the party. Ajit Singh thus became President and I was made General Secretary of the Party. Considering that in 1984, I had been expelled from the Janata Party for six years by Chandrashekhar, the same Chandrashekhar now before even three years of the six over, brushed aside all objections, admitted me to the party and made me once again General Secretary of the party. Hegde and his friends in the news-media made much of the “opportunism” of Chandrashekhar. There was however no opportunism because after all both Chandrashekhar and I were out of power in those days. By becoming friends, what, compromise did we make? If political enemies become friends, why anyone should object. I have made a rule in politics: never start a fight; but if someone starts it, never stop the fight till either the opponent gives up or is finished. Chandrashekhar had offered the hand of friendship, so I made up with him.
Hegde remained un-reconciled to this merger because he understood what it meant. With Deve Gowda joining us to form a foursome group of Chandrashekhar, Ajit, Gowda and myself, I felt time had come to put Hegde in his place. I looked for an opportunity, which arrived when Indian Express published a transcript of a telephone conversation between Gowda and Ajit plotting against Hegde. The Janata party was shocked, more by the fact that this conversation was tapped and published, than by the content of Gowda. Ajit plot. The party therefore asked me to investigate and give a report to the Parliamentary board. I knew that Hegde and Indian Express were close to each other, so I was confident that Hegde must be the culprit. But how to establish it?
As luck would have it, when I took a flight to Bangalore in July 1988 to investigate this telephone tapping, on the plane sat next to me a top Intelligence Bureau Officer. He introduced himself and said that he was my admirer because his younger brother was my student when I taught him economics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. His younger brother had told him what a good Professor I had been. He said to me: “We IB people are sick of today’s politicians because they are corrupt. We see them naked. But I admire you because you are different”. I jumped at this God sent opportunity of meeting an IB officer, and asked him about telephone tapping. It was he who gave me the tip that later completely exposed Hegde. The IB officer told me to check with the Telephone Exchange whether any written requisition were made for tapping as required under Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act. He also warned me that in some states like Tamil Nadu, the Inspector General of Intelligence illegally tapped telephones by bribing the linesman or the operator at the exchange. In such cases, he said, there will be no records. I thanked him for his tip, and after my plane landed in Bangalore, I raced to a telephone and called my friend, the Communications Minister Mr.Vir Bahadur Singh in Delhi. I requested him to procure the file, if it existed of requisitions for telephone tapping made by Hegde. A few days later, in Delhi Vir Bahadur Singh confirmed the existence of such a file and that he had a copy. Through my friends in the bureaucracy later, I got a Photostat copy of the entire file. According to this file, Hegde ordered the tapping of 51 telephones belonging to Janata Party MLAs and MPs, and surprisingly even seven of his girl friends! Telephone tapping is permitted by law against anti-social elements, but Hegde was tapping the phones of his own party colleagues and girl friends rather than keeping a tab on anti-social elements.
My report to the parliamentary board on telephone tapping finished Hegde. He had to resign from the Chief Ministership, which he did after publicly shedding copious tears. Hegde’s resignation would have directly benefited Chandrashekhar in the long run, but for the rise of V.P.Singh who had been expelled by the Congress party. With the Bofors scandal filling the pages of the newspapers, V.P. Singh began to be projected as the next PM. People like Hegde, seeing themselves blocked in the Janata Party began advocating the formation of a new party under V.P.Singh’s leadership. I tried to stop this formation, but suffered a setback when Ajit Singh deserted us and joined with V.P.Singh. I could never understand how Ajit Singh could give up the Presidentship of a party to become a General Secretary in V.P.Singh’s Janata Dal but Ajit was immature and inexperienced. This betrayal ( betrayal because Ajit Singh had assured Chandrashekhar that he will remain with him and canvass for his Prime Ministership) disheartened Chandrashekhar. Soon he too joined the Janata Dal. Therefore except for Deve Gowda and myself, all others joined V.P.Singh. I became the President of the Janata Party and Deve Gowda agreed to organize the Karnataka unit of the party. Gowda remained with me till 1992, but he too joined the Janata Dal. I thus became the only member of the Janata Party of 1977 who still remains in the party. It was lonely, but I went to seek the advice of Paramacharya Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswati. He told me not to worry, and asked me to rebuild the Janata Party even if it takes years. It is because of Paramacharya’s blessings that I have dared to keep the Janata Party alive and rebuild it even if it takes time.
After the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, the Janata Dal under V.P.Singh came to power in a coalition arrangement. Chandrashekhar was kept out the entire power structure and sidelined. One day I found him sitting alone in the Central Hall of Parliament. I walked up to him and sat by his side. He looked quite sad because he felt that V.P.Singh would divide politics of the country by his advocacy of caste via the Mandal Commission Report. He said that while he fully supported the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report, he felt that V.P.Singh was using it to create caste warfare.
Then he sighed deeply, and said that a riot between castes has become inevitable. “I feel useless today” he said in an emotional tone. “But what about trying to become PM to stop this rot?” I asked.
“Be serious, he retorted. How can I?” “Well, I have a plan if you agree” I replied.
Thus began the Operation Topple of the V.P.Singh Government.
Chandrashekhar – Part III
The plan for putting Chandrashekhar into the PM’s chair was arithmetically simple: Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress plus allies such as AIADMK were 220 in number. The deficit thus for a Parliamentary majority was 52. If I could mobilize 52 MPs from the Janata Dal, then it would serve two legal purposes, one of providing a majority and two, of being more than one-third of the Janata Dal to legally split the Party.
Chandrashekhar’s supporters were only 7 MPs, so there was the problem of securing the remaining 45. Arithmetically simple, but in terms of human chemistry, it was a night mare.
I discussed the matter with Rajiv Gandhi for the first time; the Chandrashekhar government formation in March 1990, three months after V.P.Singh came to power. Rajiv was keen for this new formation because he felt that V.P.Singh was not loyal to the nation’s interests. I too never liked Mr.V.P.Singh because I found him a hypocrite. He talked about fighting corruption, but his political friends were the most corrupt in the country, such as Ramakrishna Hegde and Arun Nehru. So I was prepared to believe the worst about him. Toppling his government was pleasure for me.
But it took me a while to convince Rajiv that Chandrashekhar was “PM material”. Rajiv told me that he was uncomfortable with Chandrashekhar because most Congress leaders distrusted him. I told Rajiv that there is no other leader in the Janata Dal on whose name I can mobilize 52 MPs. I told him that I would guarantee that Chandrashekhar gave him due respect.
On that note, Rajiv agreed. We also decided that we would meet everyday at 1 A.M! So every day for six months of plotting to bring down the V.P.Singh government. I met Rajiv Gandhi at 10, Janpath from 1 AM to 3 AM. No one except George, his Secretary and occasionally Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, was seen in the premises in those unearthly hours.
Rajiv Gandhi would sit with his computer in which the names of all the MPs, their bio data, names of their friends, their allegiance to leaders, their weaknesses, etc. had been stored. So we drew up a list of 76 MPs who were unhappy with V.P.Singh for some political reason or the other, and could be recruited.
Thereafter we would everyday take up a list of 5-7 names and I would meet them during the day and report back to Rajiv and his computer. Again at 1 AM Rajiv and I would meet and discuss the prospects of which MP is likely to join and who might not.
Throughout this operation, Chandrashekhar did very little to help. The entire operation was a Rajiv-Swamy managed show. This continuous meeting between me and Rajiv developed a bond between us. Therefore, when the operation was near completion, in end of October of 1990, and as per plan, Chandrashekhar was slated to take oath in the first week of November, I got a call from Rajiv one day at 4 AM after I had gone to sleep. In his typically sweet and shy voice, he said “Swamy, are you free to come now to see me. I will give some excellent coffee and chocolates”.
When I entered Rajiv’s study room at 10, Janpath at 4.30 AM, he said in a soft voice, but fresh as ever: “Swamy, I want you as PM, not Chandrashekhar” shocked by this, I said “Why at this late stage?” My party people are comfortable with you, but they don’t like Chandrashekhar”. “Will the President (R.Venkataraman) agree to administer me the oath?” I asked, hoping to discourage Rajiv at this change of heart.
“I will send R.K.Dhawan to the President with the proposal. He dare not refuse him,” he said. “Why?” I asked. Rajiv only smiled but refused to elaborate. “But, Rajiv,” I went on ,”the 52 MPs have agreed to come out of Janata Dal to make Chandrashekhar PM, not me”. “Yes, but now that they have come out, they cannot go back. You take oath, and they will fall in line”.
Much as I would have loved to grab that chance to be PM, I knew it would not work. I would earn the wrath of the 52 MPs who may fall in line, but they would despise me for cheating them. My age was 50 years then, and suppose it became a fiasco? I would have to live in disgrace. I was at that time too young to retire from politics but also too old to restart my academic career in the University.
For sometime, I kept sipping coffee and eating chocolates. Then I told Rajiv, getting emotional at his trust in me: “Rajiv, I shall never forget his honour, the faith you have in me. But it is gone too far now to change Chandrashekhar.” Let him be, and after one year it will be time for the Presidential elections, at which time Chandrashekhar can become President and you may become PM then. I shall work for it.”
At 6 AM, a sleepy Rajiv relented. It will be difficult to work with Chandrashekhar. We will have to go to the polls, but let us go through with the plan as it is for now.” Thus most reluctantly, Rajiv went through with the plan. But he did not turn up for the oath ceremony of the Council of ministers. As usual, Chandrashekhar being the strong headed independent minded person, he took into the Council of Ministers, Mrs.Menaka Gandhi and Sanjay Singh, both disliked by Rajiv Gandhi. So Rajiv boycotted the oath ceremony in protest without any warning.
After taking oath as a senior Minister, holding the portfolios of Commerce and Law & Justice. I went to 10, Janpath to call on Rajiv and thank him. He received me warmly, and gave lot of sweets to eat and celebrate.
“Why did you not come for the oath ceremony” I asked? “What for?. You said that the Chandrashekhar government was a necessary transition from V.P.Singh’s government to the General Elections. I have done my duty as per my agreement with you. There is nothing to celebrate however” he said.
But it was clear that he was already angry with Chandrashekhar. Will the Government last even one week? I wondered. When I next met Chandrashekhar, I urged him to meet Rajiv and clear things up. Chandrashekhar was equally upset. “Do you think that for the PM’s post, I will prostrate before Rajiv?”
It was a miracle that Chandrashekhar lasted seven months because from day one, Rajiv and Chandrashekhar were at logger heads. I can claim that had I not been in the middle, Chandrashekhar government not only would not have come into being, but when it did, it would not have lasted more than one week.
But as Prime Minister, Chandrashekhar was very good and decisive. Our government set many things right.
Chandrasekhar – Part IV
After Chandrasekhar became Prime Minister, it became clear to me that it was only a question of time before Rajiv Gandhi brought the Government down. I was keen that our Government does not go out in disgrace without doing anything during the time it lasts – though it may be only few months.
The main plus about Chandrasekhar was his decisiveness. If he became convinced of something, he would not be afraid of annoying anybody to do it. There fore I was hopeful that the PM and I together would achieve something. In our system of Government, the Cabinet is Supreme. This is widely known. But what is not widely known is the existence of a “super Cabinet” called the cabinet committee on political affairs (CCPA), which consists of the PM, Home Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister and any other Minister the PM specially nominates. The intelligence services such as RAW, IB and Military Intelligence have to give clearance for a Minister to become a member of this super Cabinet, because it is the CCPA which reviews intelligence reports and not the full Cabinet.
Chandrasekhar’s CCPA had Devi Lal, the Deputy PM, Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister and myself. I was nominated by Chandrasekhar. The PM was the Home Minister and defence Minister as well, so the CCPA consisted of us four. In actual practice, CCPA meant only Chandrasekhar and myself because Devi Lal showed not much interest in its proceedings since CCPA meetings were based on voluminous documents which were in English which language he did not understand. Yashwant Sinha was mostly interested in socialising which his unexpected Ministerial status gave a huge fillip, so he was generally missing or late. Therefore Chandrasekhar, I, along with RAW, IB, and MI Chiefs and senior civil servants usually met to discuss the issues confronting the nation in the CCPA meetings.
From the very first meeting, four issues were of concern to us: 1. Mandal agitation and how to cool it down.
2. RSS’s Babri Masjid campaign and how to counter it. 3.The alarming network of LTTE in Tamilnadu and other states such as Assam and 4. the economy and how to save it from collapse and bankruptcy.
It is to the credit of Chandrasekhar that he handled the Mandal agitation beautifully and cooled it down. Had general elections been held before the Mandal agitation had been brought under control, the elections would have been a violent one. For this alone, Chandrasekhar should be given a Bharat Ratna, because no one else could have saved the situation. He was acceptable to all the sections of the people.
On the Babri Masjid issue, Chandrasekhar skilfully used Chandraswami to split the sadhu community in Ayodhya. Chandraswami won over the Mahant (main priest) of the Ayodhya temple itself causing enormous division in the movement. This forced the RSS to call off the karseva scheduled for December 1990. I, as law minister, told the RSS representatives very firmly that we would use the draconian laws, TADA and NSA to arrest even Sadhus if they touched the Babri Masjid. This frightened the RSS so much that throughout the seven months we were in office, the RSS never raised their voice again on the Babri Masjid issue. In the meantime, we got a commitment from the Muslim organizations, that if it is proved by a commission headed by a supreme court judge that there had been a temple demolished by Babar to build the Babri Masjid over its foundations, they (the Muslims) would help Hindus to remove it, because they then would not regard the structure as a masjid. But before we could implement this compromise, our government fell. Even today, however that is the only solution to the Babri Masjid controversy.
The dismissal of the Karunanidhi government was another tough decision. Many people even today do the propaganda that the decision was taken under pressure from Rajiv Gandhi and Ms.Jayalalitha, on whose parliamentary support our government was existing. The truth is however far from it.
Although individual Congress leaders like Vazhapadi Ramamurthy were for dismissing the Karunanidhi government, Rajiv Gandhi took the stand that it was for Chandrasekhar to take a view, and whatever was decided by us, he would back us. There was therefore no pressure on us from Congress as a party. As for Ms.Jayalalitha, she made her position known to us that she was for dismissing the government. But by December end, she seemed to have lost hope that we would do anything about it since the Tamilnadu assembly was being convened soon after, and was to go on for two months. She and Sasikala soon left for Hyderabad and were there till nearly the date of dismissal arrived. Therefore, she too put no real pressure on us.
The pressure came on us instead from IB reports which were alarming. According these reports, the LTTE had built massive network in Tamilnadu. Warehouses in coastal areas of the state, a highly modern communication system in Tiruchi, a grenade factory in Coimbatore, a military uniform stitching factory in Erode and had financed STD booths and Photostat shops all over. They owned petrol pumps through benamis across the state. The LTTE had also linked up with PWG in Andhra and ULFA in Assam. Besides, the LTTE was liberally using cars bearing DMK flags so that the police had an excuse not to intercept them while in the travel within the state.
When I paid visit to the state as a Minister in the last week of December 1990, police officers met me in my hotel room in Madras to tell me that there were instructions “from above” that the LTTE were Karunanidhi’s mapillai (son -in-law) and hence not to be disturbed.
I have of course never liked the LTTE because of two reasons: They are Marxists and they are terrorists.
Therefore, the IB reports fuelled my determination to do something to save the situation. I had no faith in Karunanidhi controlling the LTTE because basically he is not a courageous person who can face them. Prior to 1987, Karunanidhi was a great supporter of the TELO leader Sabaratnam, who was a hate-figure for Prabhakaran. But when Prabhakaran had Sabaratnam killed, Karunanidhi’s opposition to Prabhakaran immediately melts in fright, and soon he began wooing the LTTE. In June 1986, Karunanidhi even offered the LTTE some money from his birthday fund, which the LTTE publicly rejected. But Karunanidhi still continued to cultivate the LTTE and the LTTE used its mappillai status to spread its influence. So we could not expect Karunanidhi to show guts to oppose a Marxist-Terrorist organization.
Chandrashekhar and I used to meet everyday when we were in Delhi for dinner at his modest 3, South Avenue Lane. Chandrashekhar used to use the PM’s Race Course Residence to meet visitors during the day, but at night we used to sit on the floor in his house allotted to him as a MP, for dinner. He and I discussed practically every issue at these dinner meetings.
It was Chandrashekhar who suddenly one night said to me: “Is this Karunanidhi anti-national?” Taken aback, I asked him why he wondered so. Chandrasekar said to me that when Karunanidhi had come to see him recently, he had given him some sensitive details about the LTTE operations, and also given certain confidential directions to him. “Only Karunanidhi and I were in the room, when this conversation transpired, and yet today the intelligence people brought me the transcript of the LTTE intercepted communications from Tamil Nadu to Prabhakaran at Jaffna. In the LTTE transmission, there is a complete description of my confidential conversation with Karunanidhi. How would they know unless Karunanidhi told them?”
Soon we held a CCPA meeting in which M.K.Narayan, the IB director was present. In that meeting, we got full details of the LTTE machinations. I was surprised how the LTTE had spread its net wide to include even G.K.Moopanar’s close confident, P.V.Rajendran who is a TMC MP today. LTTE cadres had made friends in the media, bureaucracy and even amongst retired Supreme Court judges and foreign Secretaries, who went on foreign trips to do the LTTE propaganda.
Today, that network in still intact despite Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The way some affidavits have been filed before the Jain Commission and the way cross-examinations have taken place, has convinced some in the SIT of CBI that the proceedings of the Jain Commission have benefited the LTTE in delaying or contesting the Rajiv Gandhi murder trial. The Jain Commission Proceedings is helping the LTTE immensely by the wild accusations being made in that forum.
It is then we decided that the DMK government should be dismissed and the LTTE network destroyed, and in the CCPA adopted a decision to that effect. Many persons felt at that stage that this would create sympathy for DMK, that it may spur a separatist movement, or that like MGR’s dismissal in 1980, the DMK may sweep back to power in the midterm polls. But to the credit of Mr.Chandrashekhar, he did not waver, even after then Governor Surjit Singh Barnala took a partisan stand. Barnala had agreed with the seriousness of the intelligence reports, but he told us clearly that he was appointed by the V.P.Singh’s National front government, so he would remain loyal to them. We got over his objections since Article 356 of the Constitution does not require the Governor’s report. Barnala however promised us that he would not go back to Tamil Nadu and campaign against our decision. He however broke his word and criticised our decision. Here too Chandrashekhar did not hesitate. He got Barnala replaced by Bhisma Narain Singh.
But to our surprise, President Mr.R.Venkataraman developed cold feet. When the CCPA recommendation went to him for his signature, he hesitated . Chandrashekhar asked me to go and talk to the President, which I did. Venkataraman, despite his contrary media-cultivated image, was the most undeserving person to become the President of India. His political career was based on strategic betrayal of whoever came to trust him or repose faith in him e.g., Rajiv Gandhi. At that moment when the national security was at state, Mr.Venkataraman’s concern was what would DMK volunteers do to his four houses in Kotturpuram in Chennai, and not the safety of the Tamil people. But really, he had no alternative but to sign because it was a cabinet decision based on extensive documentation. But to satisfy Mr.Venkataraman, we asked the CRPF to keep an eye on his houses.
People at various levels had of course warned us that DMK volunteers would get violent, and one civil servant said “rivers of blood would flow”. Chandrashekhar asked me about this possibility. I told him that every Collector knows and every police station has a list of rowdies of the area. As soon as we take over, I said to the PM, ask the police or CRPF to ensure that they make pre-emptive arrests of these rowdies. Party volunteers never riot, only hired rowdies : Some of them can be party men, but in the eyes of the law, they are still rowdies.
On January 31st, 1991 that is exactly what happened. There was absolute peace in Tamil Nadu after the dismissal of the DMK government. The LTTE hardware network was smashed in the following two months, but the LTTE personnel just melted into the Tamil populace. But we had saved Tamil Nadu even if later we could not save Rajiv Gandhi from his assassination.
While we were planning our moves in Tamil Nadu, Chandrashekhar one day called me up in the secret RAX phone to say that unless we got $ 2 billion from abroad within a week, the economy may collapse. He said I must use my influence in the USA to arrange it. Then he put an impossible rider: if the money comes from IMF, we cannot accept any conditions.
Chandrasekhar – Part V
When we first met as a government in November 1991, Chandrasekhar told the cabinet that there was a great economic crisis particularly in petroleum and foreign exchange looming. After some discussion, it was decided by the PM that I should, for controlling the crisis, explore some informal steps to obtain crude oil on barter i.e., in exchange of sugar, or engineering goods, and also get $ 2 billion (Rs.6000 crores) IMF loans (and without conditions). That is, the PM wanted me to act as Finance Minister as well! Chandrasekhar had denied me the Finance Ministership when the Cabinet was formed because, he told me my free market philosophy would “embarrass” his “socialist” image. But the real reason was (in my opinion) I, as Finance Minister, would go after the Swiss bank accounts of politicians, and as a consequence, many political leaders would go to jail. (There is Rs.3,20,000 crores deposited illegally by Indians in Swiss banks). Therefore when the Cabinet was being formed, there was near hysteria at the prospect of my becoming Finance Minister. Chandrasekhar was bombarded by these frightened friends, saying “please bring the devil as Finance Minister, but not Swamy”.
This “fear” later was amply justified on May 3, 1991 when I insisted as Law Minister that the CBI be allowed to raid the residences and offices of the ‘hawala kings’, the Jain brothers, despite vociferous opposition from Finance Minister (now BJP) Mr.Yashwant Sinha and Minister of State Kamal Morarka. The PM sided with me after a heated discussion. But for the raid on that date, hawala probe would never have come about.
When the Cabinet meeting was over, Chandrasekhar asked me to come with him to the airport (he was going to Varanasi). In the car, sitting next to him I taunted him: “you denied me the Finance Minister, and now you want me to do the work of the Finance Minister as well?” “Arre Baba!” he exclaimed in Hindi, the economy is on verge of collapse and you can only think of your grievance”. “‘Why should I do this task?” I persisted. After all, Commerce and Law, was my portfolio, and therefore why should I have to work for another Minister? “Listen” said Chandrasekhar “No one else in the Cabinet has your contacts abroad, in USA, Israel, China etc., so use it for the nation’s sake”.
We sat quietly till the car reached the Special VVIP airport, and out to the tarmac where the IAF Boeing reserved for the PM was parked. As he climbed the stair case to alight the plane, I told him when he returned, I would have a proposal on how to tackle the financial crisis. “To hell with the Finance Ministership” I said to myself. “CCPA membership is more prestigious”.
The foreign exchange crisis had been caused by the large number of short term loans (3 -5 years repayment) taken from Europe by the Rajiv Gandhi government (1985-89) mostly to pay for defence equipment purchases abroad. These loans became due for repayment during V.P.Singh’s tenure as PM (who as finance Minister sanctioned it) but he slept over it. So when we came to power it coincided with non-payment, plotting to declare India as a defaulter or bankrupt. It was a Mexican type situation. We needed $ 2 billion to tide over this, and save our reputation. We could, like Mexico, straight away have applied to the IMF for a “crisis loan”, but then the IMF would have strapped us, like Mexico, with humiliating conditions. When I spoke to Rajiv Gandhi about this crisis, after returning from the airport, he said flatly that the Congress party would not support any Mexican type conditionality. So our government was in a fix: “No conditions, No loan from IMF; no loan, no economy!”
But I knew of one possible escape route. The IMF is dominated by the Americans, who control 87 percent of the voting power in the Executive Board of the IMF. Despite popular impressions to the contrary, Americans are very simple people if you have a deal with them on a give and take basis. If you want something from an American, offer him something in return which he needs. Then he will respond fully. Americans in the past were irritated with us because we took their aid, and yet voted against them in the UN. Americans are straight forward, contractual minded people, whereas we are highly moralistic people who do not like to reveal our mind. Americans are much like me in character: blunt and open in thought, but a typical Indian is more like Narasimha Rao: soft in words, but covert in action. So when Chandrasekhar returned to Delhi, I received him at the airport, and told him of Rajiv Gandhi’s refusal to support an IMF conditions-prone loan. I then told him: “There is one way out. Ask the Americans to help. They will help, if you offer them something in return”. “What can be possibly given them that they do not have already?” asked Chandrasekhar. I had no answer. I just kept quiet. Chandrasekhar said “We are running out of time. Think of something”.
Soon after sometime, the opportunity came. The US Ambassador came to my Commerce Ministry office to tell me that the US was planning to support a UN declaration of war on Iraq, and US will conduct the operations. He said that the Indian government should support the war effort of the US.
With IMF on my mind, I asked the Ambassador: “What will India get by doing so?” The Ambassador was taken back. He said it was a moral imperative for the world, since Kuwait had been crushed by Iraq’s invasion. I laughed at the US ambassador. I told him “Listen Excellency, ten years in the US as a student and as a professor has made me more American than you. You keep your moral imperative, but give me a deal”. I explained our problem to him. He was very sympathetic. As I expected, he immediately responded. Thereafter President Bush and Chandrasekhar were in touch with each other. The $ 2 billion arrived without any conditions! We, of course allowed the US to refuel their planes flying in from Philiphines to Saudi Arabia. Nowhere will it be recorded as a “deal”, but the truth is this. In the history of the IMF, such a large loan has never been given without conditions. Ours was the exception.
Of course once the loans came, the close associates of Chandrasekhar like Sinha and Morarka, who were jealous of his growing trust in me naturally wanted to claim credit or thought that it could have been done by them. In May-June 1991, when again the same crisis came, they saw to it that I was not allowed to interfere. They soon found out what “credibility” and “credentials” meant. Every government ignored our Finance Minister, and in the end, the President Mr.Venkataraman and the Finance Minister (now BJP) Mr.Yashwant Sinha together in one of the biggest undiscovered scandals of our history, mortgaged with European banks, our gold reserves without informing the Commerce Ministry. I publicly protested, and even threatened to register a criminal case for bypassing the Commerce Ministry. But by then, elections were at hand and therefore I could not do anything. Someday I will reopen this. But the resolution of the crisis in January 1991 generated tremendous confidence in Chandrasekhar’s mind about my abilities. Soon for practically every problem, he was on the phone consulting me.
In this atmosphere of confidence, I began pressing Chandrasekhar to abandon his traditional socialist bias. I urged him to consider economic reform and liberalization. His economic adviser was Dr.Manmohan Singh (later Finance Minister). I had known Manmohan Singh since the days we were Professors of Economics. In those days, he was a leftist and against my ideas. But the collapse of the Soviet Union made him come over to my views. So he gave me full support.
Montek Ahluwalia, now Finance Secretary, was my Commerce Secretary. I had known him since he was an economics student at Oxford. His wife was a student of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) situated next to Harvard. With the help of Ahluwalia and Manmohan Singh, I prepared a series of documents on economic liberalization. At that stage, Dr.Manmohan Singh asked me: “Do you think that any government will implement this?” Little did he realize that the next government of Narasimha Rao will have Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister and the government will take all the credit for our government’s economic liberalization programme. The Congress party government did a complete ideological somersault, and in broad daylight stole my economic liberalization blue print. Chandrasekhar government was not long enough in office to implement this economic package, but the nation has benefited by the Congress somersault and theft.
The granting by the Chandrasekhar government permission for US military planes to refuel in Indian airports during the Gulf War suddenly transformed Prime minister Chandrasekhar’s image in the eyes of the Americans as a “good friend”. This was the first time an Indian government had helped the US. Naturally the prestigious newspaper like Washington Post, New York Times began praising our government for its “decisiveness”. During this period, I had also in the GATT talks, bargained with the Americans for a formulation on agricultural subsidies that pleased them; at the same time they helped us to protect our interests in textile exports. This was another great help to the US vis-à-vis Europe. So the American press began portraying Chandrasekhar and myself as “able leaders”, who can be trusted to be good friends.
This publicity internationally, pleased Chandrasekhar a great deal, but I warned him that he would now have to be extra humble with Rajiv Gandhi, because the Nehru family was always very sensitive to foreign publicity. They do not like to be upstaged internationally. I told Chandrasekhar that some Congress leaders would now go to and tell Rajiv how if he continued in office as PM, he would swallow up Congress Party, and that Rajiv would become an orphan.
At the same time, I told him (Chandrasekhar) that some flatterers would come and tell him how popular he had become and that if he got rid of Rajiv’s “crutches” and stood alone now, he would, like Indira Gandhi in 1971, sweep the Lok Sabha polls. So these sycophants would urge him to go for elections immediately. I also told Chandrasekhar that he should control his two rootless Ministers whom I had nick-named as the “disco” group businessman, Mr.Kamal Morarka and ex-bureaucrat turned Finance minister, Mr.Yashant Sinha. These two were talking loosely, I said, to their girl friends in Delhi’s Taj Hotel discotheques about Rajiv Gandhi, boasting how they could control him by enforcement Directorate and Bofors Investigations. These girl friends, mostly unmarried journalists or Rajya Sabha MPS, would in turn boast it to people like P.Chidambaram (another disco fan), whose only job those days was to carry tales to Rajiv Gandhi. Such tales would irritate Rajiv Gandhi no end, and made him think of Chandrasekhar as an ungrateful person.
“Let us not forget” I said Chandrasekhar, “that it is 220 MPs of Rajiv Gandhi that is underwriting the government. We need at least a year in government before people fully accept us in our own right. Therefore today we cannot do without Rajiv Gandhi’s help.
But Chandrasekhar’s personality was not cut out for this role of humble partner. He could not bear to hear some of his close associates taunt or tease him that he is “crawling” before Rajiv Gandhi for the post. He told me one even in Feb, 1991: “Now that the Mandal fire is under control and the Babri Masjid issue has been contained, why not go for elections?” Obviously, his sycophants had succeeded in putting him on the offensive. The seed had been planted. I did not answer him then since he would start arguing with me, and become bitter about Rajiv Gandhi. Besides, I had to leave that night for Beijing, the capital of China, to sign the first ever Trade Pact with that country. There were many documents for me to read before catching the flight, so I told Chandrasekhar that I would answer that question after returning from China. I needed time to think, I told him and excused myself.
While I was in China, I learnt from telephone calls from friends in Delhi, that the disco group was playing havoc in my absence. Not being in grass root politics, they were carried away by the foreign newspapers in praise of Chandrasekhar, little realizing the ground realities. We had 54 MPs, Rajiv had 220; we had no party structure, while Rajiv had a massive party organisation for which he had plenty of finance. The four months in office had created a good impression about him in people’s mind, but it needed consolidation. Popularity is fleeting, and by itself cannot make win elections. Popularity, like Imran Khan found out much later, does not substitute for party organization.
When I returned from China ten days later, I was expecting a celebration for getting the first ever Trade Pact signed with that country, enabling us to export among other things, telephone exchanges and steel production processes. Instead I found the atmosphere so vitiated by suspicion, that the fall of the government was being discussed. Soured by the nasty propaganda of the disco group and influenced by the Mantharas in his party, Rajiv had decided to bring Chandrasekhar down. First, he made an issue of why we did not support Saddam Hussein in the Iraq war. Later he dropped the issue, because our Gulf policy had been made with his prior consultation and approval .Furthermore, Rajiv Gandhi had relied on Mr.Gorbachev of the Soviet Union to join him in an international campaign in favour of Saddam Hussien. But Gorbachev supported our stand, disappointing Rajiv. So he had to drop this issue as a non-starter. Next, he picked on the Haryana CID surveillance issue. Two constables had been posted by the Chauthala government to spy on who goes in and out of 10, Janpath, Rajiv said. Obviously, this was an excuse for fighting with Chandrasekhar. But one thing led to another, and soon enough there were angry words exchanged. Rajiv wanted Chandrasekhar to make amends. The character of Chandrasekhar came out clearly in this conflict. He was not a person to bend for a post to the point of humiliation, so he refused to make amends. This was his strong point as well as weak point. As a leader of the government with absolute majority, Chandrasekhar’s unbending character would have made him a hero of people. But as a leader of coalition, it made him a zero. Chandrasekhar was Janata Party President for 11 years (1977-88), but he presided over his gradual liquidation. In the end, he quit and joined the Janata Dal led by V.P.Singh. Why? Janata Party was founded as a coalition party, a merger of five parties. Chandrasekhar had no patience for the compromises necessary for a coalition. Had Janata Party been built like other parties, brick by brick, and over 50 years, Chandrasekhar as its leader would have flourished. Strong leaders cannot lead coalitions unless they know how either to blackmail the partners into submission like Jyoti Basu does, or be a sweet gentleman. But Chandrasekhar was a gentleman strong leader. That as Chanakya would have said is a self defeating combination. For a coalition, a leader should be either a gentleman or strong, but not both.
After the Haryana constable issue, the government fell. Elections came. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. Chandrasekhar felt truly sorry. So as a gentleman, he proposed in the cabinet that Rajiv Gandhi should be given Bharat Ratna for his sacrifice. This did not mollify Rajiv Gandhi’ supporters. They demanded that the Government allot a Rajghat area for Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial. Chandrasekhar immediately agreed, and proposed that in the vast area for Indira Gandhi’s memorial called Shakti Sthal an enclosure be carved out to create a place for Rajiv Gandhi. This infuriated Rajiv’s followers. Even Sonia Gandhi was upset. They wanted Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial on its own merit, not as Indira Gandhi’s son.
One day in late May 1991, a few days after the assassination, I got a call from Chandrasekhar at 6 AM in the morning. He asked me to come right away. When I saw him at his residence, he told me about the problems he was having with the Rajiv Gandhi memorial site. He told me that the Government had offered to prepare a site out of the Shakthi Sthal, but Sonia Gandhi had refused, because she had wanted Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial to have an independent identity. I told Chandrasekhar that Sonia was right. After all, Rajiv had been PM for five years in his own right.
But the problem Chandrasekhar told me was that Sonia was asking for a part of Lal Bahadur Shastri’s memorial area which was then a temporary CRPF camp. Not all of Shastri’s Memorial had been developed despite so many years. He said, “If you cannot carve out a memorial for Rajiv from Shakti Sthal, I am not going to agree to carve it out from poor Lal Bahadur Shahtri’s area” “So what’s the problem that I should come here so early in the morning?” I asked Chandrasekhar, sensing that something else was on his mind.
“IB tells me that Sonia is going to go to public today, or ask for Doordarshan time, to condemn our government for ‘dishonouring’ Rajiv memory. That should be prevented because so many world leaders are arriving for the cremation and no site is ready” Chandrasekhar said. “Why don’t you talk to her directly?” I asked despite knowing the answer. Sonia was already bitter with Chandrasekhar for forcing Rajiv to go to the polls, and so she was unlikely to come on the phone to talk to him. “She is unavailable, every time I telephone her house” he said. “What can I do now?” I asked.
“Amitabh Bachhan told me last night that if you talked to her, she might agree. She would talk to no one else. Since she is so upset and in mourning” Chandrasekhar told me. “She will agree to what, Chandrasekharji? What do I offer, and why should not we close down the CRPF camp and shift it elsewhere? If it can be even temporarily partitioned for the CRPF, it can be permanently set aside for Rajiv Gandhi” I retorted. “Except Lal Bahadur’s memorial you have the authority to take out any government land anywhere in India to offer it to Sonia for the memorial. But don’t try to force me on Lal Bahadur’s site. I too have sentiments. I will not agree”, Chandrasekhar added belligerently, obviously hurt by the way the Rajiv loyalists were behaving. I agreed to talk to Sonia, because I had no choice. If nothing else for Rajiv’s sake. Otherwise there would have been an International Scandal.
When I went home, I called Amitabh Bachhan. Bachhan was very friendly with me because as Law Minister I had ordered withdrawal of a FERA case against his brother Ajitabh, a case filed by V.P.Singh’s government. V.P.Singh had hatred for the Bachhans, so he had directed a FERA case to be filed, even though in law it had no basis. But in these politically motivated cases like Lakhubhai cheating and St.Kitts cases. The idea is to get one’s target or enemy, arrested for interrogation purposes (remand), and then after sometime release the person on bail. The newspaper would do rest of the job, making out that remand is actually conviction or punishment. One’s enemy then becomes guilty without a trial. The person may be acquitted after some years, but who is to remember that, or who is to compensate for the lost years? Take the ISRO so-called spy case. How many people have needlessly suffered?
As Law Minister, whenever any one made a petition to me charging that such frivolous case had been filed, I usually went into the case myself. Ajitabh Bachhan’s FERA case was one such. Chandrasekhar had forwarded Ajitabh’s petition made to him, and had asked me to deal with it.
The case was silly, because the charge was that Ajitabh had purchased a house in Switzerland with foreign exchange without RBI permission. So a FERA case was foisted on him. Ram Jethmalani had taken up this issue to please V.P.Singh so that he could come into V.P.Singh’s inner circle. But Jethmalani never does his home work. He tried to get his point by shouting all kinds of legal rubbish. The ordinary citizens get frightened by it since they do not know law. In Ajitabh’s case, he was already a NRI with Indian passport, so he was entitled in law to buy a house abroad, in foreign exchange. How he got the NRI status was another matter, but CBI did not question that. I was shocked by the silly nature of the case, which was untenable and waste of public funds in prosecution. For nearly a year, Ajitabh had been harassed by such a baseless FERA case.
I therefore called the law Secretary and asked him to instruct the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to withdraw the case. The Law Secretary told me: “Sir, you will get a bad name for this. Please consider”. “Am I wrong legally?” I asked the Law Secretary. “No Sir. But this is a political matter which newspapers will play up. It will spoil your good name” he said. “Politics is my area, not yours. Call a press conference and I will announce my decision to the world” I told him. “Why Sir?” asked an alarmed Law Secretary. Because if I don’t, the Indian Express will get a leak from the CBI, and then it will be big news. If I call a press conference, and explain the basis, people will understand” I replied.
That is exactly what happened. Ajitabh case was withdrawn and even though the Indian Express condemned it in an editorial, no one else agreed. Rajiv, Sonia and Amitabh were naturally pleased. Amitabh had then asked to see me. I told him he could see me in Attorney General G.Ramasamy’s house. At GR’s house, Amitabh told me that he would never forget my help. “Rajiv’s opinion that I had the courage of my conviction is amply proved”, he said.
So when I telephoned Amitabh on that morning, after meeting Chandrasekhar he warmly responded. He gave a special telephone number at which a mourning Sonia would be available. He said she was expecting my call. But he warned me that she was going to insist on the CRPF Shastri site.
I called Sonia and fixed a time to see her that afternoon. With the PM’s authority, I called up the Urban Development Minister Daulat Ram Saran and asked him to send the secretary of the ministry with the entire blueprint of the Rajghat area for my study. After studying map for empty spaces available, I selected one site, next to Shakthi Sthal, but not on it. It was a dumping ground for coal ash of the Delhi Electric Supply Undertaking (DESU) and was fenced by a wall from the Sakthi Sthal. It was filthy but it could be easily cleaned up.
While I drove to 10, Janpath to meet Sonia, I had only one question in my mind: how to protect Chandrasekhar’s sentiment or shall I say obduracy, on the CRPF site and at the same time make Sonia agree to a new site, in this highly emotional climate. It was a very delicate mission for me, with international consequences. But I had a trump card for success, which I did not tell Chandrasekhar about. When I was taken to Sonia’s room, there was besides her, Amitabh, Rahul and Priyanka. Sonia asked me to be seated.
I spread the map on the table and said:” Soniaji, you know how much I respected Rajiv. This site I have selected, please accept. We will use the government funds to clean it up and make it the best”. At this, Priyanka flared up and said in a demanding tone: “Are you, or are you not going to give the CRPF camp site for my father’s memorial. Otherwise we don’t want anything from Government”.
At this tone of voice, I was upset. I was a senior Cabinet minister and Priyanka was a college girl. She had no right to talk to me like that. I had come to see her mother, not her. Congressmen can be backbone less wonders, but not Subramanian Swamy even if he has to go into the wilderness for it. In a raised voice, I thundered “No! We will not give that site. I will pass such an order on the CRPF site that no future government can dare to overrule it”.
There was an eerie silence for nearly a minute. Amitabh was feeling very uncomfortable. No one spoke. Then Sonia said in a very soft voice: “why? Why not that site? With that question, I got a chance to play my trump card. I said, “Soniaji, the only reason is that I want to respect Rajiv’s sentiment. When in 1987 Charan Singh died and was to be cremated ,his son Ajit and I had asked Rajiv (as PM) for the same CRPF site for Chaudhary Saheb. He had declined. Rajiv had explained to me then that already Shastri’s memorial is much neglected, and if this site, temporarily with the CRPF is given away , there will be much misunderstanding and adverse publicity. He recorded this in the files of the Government. So to respect Rajiv’s view, we cannot give the site of your choice. But I have told the PM that this alternate site I have selected should be offered for Rajiv Gandhi memorial and immediately developed.
After a few moments, Sonia agreed. I took it as recognition by her that I would not deliberately try to give a bad site for Rajiv’s memorial. Because I had so much regard for Rajiv which she knew was mutually felt by Rajiv. I would she understood, select the best available site. Priyanka was still angry , but Sonia restrained her from speaking anymore. “We will accept because it has come form you” she said. The crisis was over. A site has been selected. When I informed the PM, he promptly announced it over Doordharsan, to set all the rumours afloat, at rest. Had I not intervened, God only knows what would have happened. But for Rajiv’s sake, who I consider was the most patriotic and dynamic leader produced to date by the Nehru family, and perhaps also the most underrated, it was God’s grace that we found a way out.
I first met Jagjivan Ram when I was 12 years old in 1952. He was a Minister then in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet, and was living in a bungalow on the same road (Queen Victoria Road, renamed now Rajendra Prasad Road) as my father, who had been allotted his official residence as a senior civil servant. Our neighbour was a Bihar MP called Shyamnandan Sahay, who had taken a tremendous liking to me. On the other side of our house was Feroze Gandhi’s residence where I used to see a very unhappy Indira Gandhi come and go, after a fight with her husband.
Sahay, every evening, used to call me to have tea. He was old and very fat, so he was mostly seated on a big sofa in his house. During these tea times, I met many politicians who visited Sahay. I used to ask them questions freely. These VIPs tried to humour my curiosity because they were not used to a 12 year old asking so many questions on current topics.
Jagjivan Ram one day came for tea to Sahay’s house. He brought his son Suresh Ram, about the same age as me, with him. Suresh and I became good friends after that, and played Cricket for the same team for many years. Because of Suresh, I had a chance to go to Jagjivan Ram’s residence often, and have tea and snacks with his father. Despite being busy, Jagjivan Ram often talked to me on current topics. Knowing that I was from Brahmin family, he asked me once why I did not wear my thread (poonal). I told him that at the age of 7 when an upanayam (thread ceremony) was to be held for me, my questioning mind made me ask the pujari why I should put it on when my schoolmates did not have it. The pujari’s answer did not satisfy me, so I asked him more questions. This embarrassed everyone in the family. My father was a communist-minded person so although he himself put on the thread, he agreed to call off the ceremony. My mother was heart broken, but I was adamant that unless the Pujari answered my questions I would not go through the ceremony or put it on (My mother however told me that I would have to have the ceremony anyway when I get married. She was however disappointed because I married a Parsi girl in a registered marriage in the USA. However her spirit would be happy today because the great soul, the Paramacharya Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswathi convinced me to don the thread on special occasions. Paramacharya told me that whether I acknowledge or not, Tamil society has become so poisoned that I would anyway be regarded as a Brahmin. He also explained to me the scientific basis for the thread in ceremonies.
Jagjivan Ram was mighty impressed with this questioning mind, and thus opened his heart to me. He told me of the nature of Hindu Society and the atrocities heaped on scheduled castes. I as a city boy just could not believe these stories, so asked my mother who confirmed these as facts. She even told me that in my village in Mullipallam, Cholavandan, the shadow of a scheduled caste could not fall on the path of a Brahmin walking on the road. I was shocked, and resolved never to go to my village. And till the age of 30, I never visited Mullipallam. But since I entered Tamilnadu politics in 1992, I not only visited my village regularly but recovered my ancestral house which my grandfather has lost during the Great Depression of the 1930s, unable to pay his debts. My father was too busy with Congress politics with Satyamurthi to pay attention to this loss. Later he had moved to Delhi. Of course my village today is a different society. And because of leaders like Dr.Ambedkar and Mr.Jagjvan Ram today, the society in Mullipallam also is a better than when I was a little boy. The Brahmin society perhaps has also come to its senses, thanks to Periyar’s movement.
But because of what I learnt from Jagjivan Ram as a young boy, I have never hesitated to come to the support of scheduled castes. His descriptions of cruelty meted out to SC community are deeply etched in my mind, When the Kodiyankulam (near Tirunelveli) atrocity took place in 1995. I did not hesitate for a moment to rush there and fight for them in the High Court to get a CBI inquiry instituted. Leaders like Karunanidhi who day in day out talk about the poor oppressed classes failed to even visit Kodiyankulam may be for fear of alienating other castes who voted against the party in the elections. But because of Jagjivan Ram and my long association with Suresh Ram in my childhood, I did not care about the consequences, and had rushed to kodiyankulam.
In 1957, after I went to the University, I lost contact with Suresh Ram and his father. Thereafter I went to USA for studies in 1962 only to return 1970. When I returned to India, Congress had split and my sympathies were with Morarji and Kamaraj who were in Congress (O). Jagjivan Ram went with Indira Gandhi to Congress (I). Therefore, I had no occasion to meet him till I entered Parliament in 1974. But because I was in those days a virulent opponent of Mrs.Gandhi, Jagjivan Ram would smile at me, and treat me with courtesy but would not let me come near him.
In 1977, Jagjivan Ram jointed the Janata Party. I went to meet him after the elections, having been elected to Lok Sabha from Bombay. He had been promised by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nana Goray of the Socialist Party support for the Prime Ministership, so he was hopeful of becoming PM. He spoke to me about the social transformation that would result by a scheduled caste becoming PM. Of course Jagjivan Ram was not just of scheduled caste, but one of the most efficient Ministers of Independent India. No letter was unanswered; no file was not read by him. His grasp was quick, and he took decision with dynamism. In my opinion, he would have been a superb Prime minister, but at the same time there was one thing against him in the Janata Party. He was the mover of the approval resolution on Emergency. Jagjivan Ram’s resignation from Congress in February 1977 completely demoralized Mrs.Gandhi, and she never recovered from the shock during the 1977 election campaign. Jagjivan Ram made up for the error in his supporting the Emergency resolutions in Parliament by his beautifully timed resignation. Had he not resigned the sea-change in political climate to ensure the Janatha victory would have not taken place?
But the problem was that Charan Singh was against Jagjivan Ram becoming PM. Charan Singh told me that we could not forgive him for supporting the Emergency resolution. Charan Singh also made an issue of non-filing of income tax returns for ten years by Jagjivan Ram (because he “forgot to”). But besides this I felt, because Charan Singh was a Jat, he did not like the idea of making a scheduled caste PM. The Jat community in UP, Haryana and Rajastan is a fierce agricultural community like some of the backward communities in Tamilnadu and Andhra. They are especially harsh the scheduled castes, who are in rural areas the landless labourers. Charan Singh gave special concessions to scheduled castes in his party, but for PM post it was something he could not agree although he would not admit that this was the real reason. In my political and social life I have found surprisingly a higher percentage of Brahmins than backward castes that are willing to bring up scheduled castes and other oppressed castes, although in the popular campaign the Brahmins are targets. History is replete with examples of the Brahmins wanting to challenge the orthodoxy to integrate the scheduled caste community. Chanakya picked up a young goat herd boy to make him Emperor Chandra Gupta. Ramanuja’s role in reading Vedas to scheduled castes is another example. Mahatma Phule is revered in Maharashtra by the Dalits. Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar got his surname Ambedkar because his Brahmin teacher gave him his own for his college admission..
Today caste prejudice, disregarding merit is the bane of society. The nation lost a great opportunity in not making Jagjivan Ram Prime minister of India because though he was eminently qualified and an efficient Minister for decades he was denied because of prejudice. If he could not become PM in 1977 because of some leaders conspiracy, then he could have been in 1980 elections when the Janata Party projected him as the Party’s candidate for Prime Minister. But the Janata Party lost the elections then because caste-voting defeated Jagjivan Ram. The nation was the loser; Today Kanshi Ram is the other side of the coin of caste prejudice.
In 1977, Jagjivan Ram was confident of becoming the Prime minister because Vajpayee and Nana Goray promised him support. The Jan Sangh MPs were 102 in number, the Socialists were 35, and Jagjivan Ram’s Congress for Democracy was 27. That is, of the 318 MPs elected on Janata ticket, a very slender majority were pledged to Jagjivan Ram. Vajpayee’s only reason for preferring Jagjivan Ram to Morarji Desai was that Morarji was a strict prohibitionist while Vajpayee was regular consumer of alcoholic drinks (in secret). But when Charan Singh categorically threw his support for Morarji, Vajpayee became apprehensive because there was a small revolt in the Jan Sangh camp, especially amongst those who had suffered during the Emergency. He feared that they would switch sides and vote against party line. Morarji used to jokingly tell me that Vajpayee “roared like a lion but had a heart of a rabbit”. Vajpayee found that after Charan Singh’s decision, Morarji was assured the support of 154 MPs and needed just 11 MPs more to get majority. Thus Jan Singh’s MPs revolt would have ensured victory. Morarji also sternly told Vajpayee that if he (Morarji) becomes PM without his (Vajpayee’s) support, he would not make him a Minister. That was enough to scare him. He immediately somersaulted, without telling Jagjivan Ram. So on the day of the election of the parliamentary party leader, Vajpayee quietly went to JP and Acharya Kriplani and told them that he was switching sides. I was present there because JP had asked me to be at the Gandhi Peace Foundation with him. JP winked at me with a smile when Vajpayee came rushing in with his change of heart. JP knew what I thought of Vajpayee. Morarji now had majority.
But Jagjivan Ram did not know this. He was so sure of his majority that he had already ordered sweets and fire crackers to celebrate his becoming PM, little realizing Vajpayee’s betrayal.
When the news reached him of Morarji being chosen by JP, Jagjivan Ram was wild with grief. He threw chairs and tables in disgust. He refused to attend Morarji’s swearing in ceremony. Later in the evening I went to Jagjivan Ram’s residence to see him. He was still a broken man; now in full know of the betrayal. He looked at me and said “My friend, this is a great Brahmin conspiracy”. I did not want to contradict him because he was so upset. But it was Charan Singh’s open revolt that had changed the scene. Vajpayee is no Brahmin. He drinks alcohol and publicly claims that he is a bachelor but not a Bramachari. How can he be called a Brahmin with those ‘qualifications’? Besides JP and Acharya Kriplani were not Brahmins. But I had the confidence of Jagjivan Ram, so I could talk to him freely. I really felt sorry for the betrayal even though the man I respected, Morarji Desai, had become PM. Soon Jagjivan Ram got over his grief, and joined the Morarji Cabinet as Defence Minister. He then appointed me as the Party MP’s Defence Committee Chairman, and regularly took me into confidence on Defence matters over dinner at his residence. When Mrs.Gandhi attacked him for choosing the Jaguar fighter bombers over the French Mirage planes, Jagjivan Ram asked me to be the lead speaker in Lok Sabha to defend the government.
The years that I got to know him as a young boy helped me to get close to him. He often requested me to keep Morarji informed so that the Prime Minister does not listen or is influenced by his detractors. Morarji later made a gesture by making Jagjivan Ram as Deputy Prime Minister on par with Charan Singh.
Morarji resigned from the Prime Ministership in July 1979 bringing the government down. Charan Singh became Prime Minister. What surprised us all at that time was, those who used to swear by Mrs.Gandhi, and were at her beck and call (and even today parade themselves as supporters of Mrs.Gandhi) went rushing to Charan Singh to seek Ministership. Among them was C.Subramanian who in Lok Sabha bitterly criticized Mr.Charan Singh’s budget only months ago, but abandoned Mrs.Gandhi and joined Charan Singh’s cabinet as Minister of Defence. That is of course not surprising behaviour for CS. Later in the 80s he abandoned Rajiv Gandhi to accept V.P. Singh’s offer to be Governor of Maharashtra. How hurt Rajiv Gandhi was, only I and few others know. But today on TMC plat form he eulogizes Rajiv Gandhi.
But Charan Singh’s government was to fall because he refused Mrs. Gandhi’s demand to abolish the Special Courts trying cases against her and Sanjay. So she refused to extend him support in Parliament. By now Jagjivan Ram had replaced Morarji Desai as leader of the Janata Party in Parliament. The Janata Party was however 18 MPs short of majority, but AIADMK had 19 MPs. Earlier MGR had supported Charan Singh, but thanks to the efforts of some common friends, MGR was ready to extend support to the Janata Party. MGR informed Jagjivan Ram that if I came on behalf of the Janata Party to Chennai, he (MGR) would finalize with me the alliance. Now it looked as if finally Jagjivan Ram would become Prime Minister.
Jagjivan Ram called me to his residence one evening 36 hours before the deadline set by President Sanjiva Reddy, to prove his majority. He told me about MGR’s message, and said I should fly to Chennai with a letter from him to MGR requesting support. He said putting his affectionate hand on my shoulder “Swamy, phone me from there as soon as you get the letter from MGR pledging support. We must beat the deadline set by the President.” Then he said in an emotionally choked voice: “Hurry, because this is a chance I do not want to miss”. For me it was a pleasure. I knew if Jagjivan Ram because PM, he would make me a Minister. Morarji could not make me Minister because of Vajpayee’s jealousy. But Jagjivan Ram would not care for Vajpayee’s opinion since he would never forget the betrayal of 1977.
When I reached the airport next morning to catch the flight, Vajpayee was therefore to catch the same flight. I asked him what he was doing there. He sheepishly said “The parliamentary party has asked you to meet MGR, while the organizational wing has told me to go and meet MGR.” How petty! He probably did not want me to get all the credit, so he must have persuaded Chandrasekhar to send him. Anyway I had Jagjivan Ram’s letter, so it did not really matter, whether Vajpayee came or not.
From Chennai airport, we were driven straight to MGR’s Thottam house since there was no time to lose. There MGR had laid out a huge breakfast, and he personally insisted that we eat everything. MGR would not let me talk, but kept feeding us one dish after another.
After sometime, I pulled out Jagjivan Ram’s letter to give to MGR. Then MGR handed me his letter to Jagjivan Ram, with a demand that we accommodate two AIADMK MPs as Ministers. That was no problem. Then from there I telephoned Jagjivan Ram to tell him the good news, that now he had majority, and also about MGR’s demand for two nominees in the Cabinet. Jagjivan Ram was thrilled, and asked me to return immediately by the next flight. He said he would inform the President immediately. I was beaming with pleasure when I put the phone down. Then MGR softly asked me in Tamil “Do you think Sanjiva Reddy will ever allow Jagjivan Ram to become PM”. “What not?” I retorted. “If we have majority, he has to call him” I added. “My information is that Reddy will dissolve the House the moment he learns that Jagjivan Ram has majority” MGR said to me gently.
I had a press conference to attend before going to the airport and some sleep to catch before that so I took leave of MGR, who had a strange sarcastic smile as if to say how innocent I was of the facts of life. Two hours later, I went to address a press conference. By then Jagjivan Ram would have gone to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and informed the President of the Janata Party’s majority. As I reached the press conference, I wondered what portfolio Jagjivan Ram would give me as Minister.
Before I could declare to the press the Janata Party’s prospects, pressman jumped on me to ask my reaction to Sanjiva Reddy dissolving the Lok Sabha without giving Jagjivan Ram an opportunity! The news had just come on the PTI ticker. I was dump founded. MGR was right. Sitting in Madras he seemed to know more about Delhi than me! After giving the press my reactions, I left for the airport. What did MGR mean that Reddy would dissolve the House after learning about Jagjivan Ram’s majority?
I understood later. Reddy belonged to a zamindar’s family in Andhra. They have a proverbial lack of respect for scheduled castes. So Reddy did not want a scheduled caste PM, or alternatively he had some other personal hatred for Jagjivan Ram. In either case, he denied Jagjivan Ram his just chance. This time it was clearly not a “Brahmin conspiracy?
I felt sad when on the flight back to Delhi, not only that I lost my chance to be a Minister, but since a truly capable experienced and efficient person could not become the Prime Minister because of some silly petty prejudice. The nation lost twice in 2 1/2 years (1977 -79) in having the services of a great administrator.
Jagjivan Ram never recovered from this low. He became cynical and bitter about it. Although in the 1980 elections, Janata Party projected him as the party candidate for PM, his heart was not in the campaign. I was elected to the Lok Sabha again from Bombay. So I used to see him in Parliament, but Jagjivan Ram was mostly silent in Parliament. Then one day he left Janata Party and joined Congress. Mrs. Gandhi welcomed him but clearly did not forgive him for the 1977 shock. She gave him no importance in the party. One day in 1984, Jagjivan Ram died, broken hearted. With him died a dream of social revolution that is yet to be realized. It is difficult to visualise an able administrator of Jagjivan Ram’s calibre of any caste, coming up in the near future.
Jagjivan Ram had many personal faults. But that is not important if it does not affect his public life or does not compromise him to black mail. But as a person he was warm and despite all the prejudice, Mahatma Gandhi was right in picking him up from nowhere to make him a Minister. Even if he did not become PM, he was Minister from 1946 to 1980, holding at sometime all the important portfolios. He served mother India as a great son.
My friend Deng Xiao Ping
No Indian except me in his personal capacity has ever been received by the recently departed China’s great leader Deng Xiao Ping. Deng invited me in April 1981 to China for a discussion with him on Sino-Indian and other international issues. This meeting, which lasted 100 minutes was hailed by our newspapers as historic as it revived the normalization of our relations with China, which had begun earlier when Morarji Desai become the first Janata PM, but was briefly interrupted after Mrs.Gandhi returned to power. The Chinese had a deep distrust of Mrs. Gandhi because of her pro-Soviet Union tilt in policies, and had broken off the normalization abruptly after she returned to power in 1980. Mrs.Gandhi was however concerned that if the Chinese started to help the Assam students in agitation, India’s Northeast would go out of control of New Delhi. There were Intelligence reports with Mrs.Gandhi that the Assam extremists were planning to send a team to China across the Tibet border to seek arms from that country. This Mrs.Gandhi wanted to stop. And that is why she wanted to make up with China. But she could not talk to the Chinese at the senior level since their leader Deng Xiao Ping refused to meet the Indian Ambassador in China, Mr.Shankar Bajpai. Indian diplomats told Mrs.Gandhi that the only Indian who enjoyed the Chinese trust was me, and Deng Xiao Ping should be approached through me.
At that time, I was a staunch opponent of Mrs.Gandhi. Her action of denying me three professorships (Delhi, Nehru and IIT Universities) at the bidding of communists in 1971-73, which forced me to join politics ( the other alternative was to return to Harvard University in USA) and later the struggle against the Emergency, had made me a bitter opponent of Mrs.Gandhi.
But it is a tribute to Mrs.Gandhi’s patriotism that she did not allow political enmity to come in the way of national interest. At first she tried to convince me through Narasimha Rao to help her break the Chinese hostility. Then she appealed to me directly. So when Deng Xiao Ping invited me in 1981, I decided to help her for the nation’s sake. This mutual gesture completely dissolved the enmity between me and Mrs.Gandhi. We became good friends from that date, so much so that the Madurai MP Subbaraman once came to see me to plead with me that since Mrs.Gandhi had so much regard for me, I should join Congress Party. He even offered to resign his Lok Sabha seat to send me to Parliament. I was, at that time, a Lok Sabha MP from Bombay, so I politely put him off. But it is an irony today that the son of Subbaraman, Rambabu, not only deserted Mrs.Gandhi’s Congress Party, but actually defeated me by unfair means, in the 1996 elections for Madurai Lok Sabha seat. Mr.Subbaraman must be writhing in pain in heavan at this turn of events caused by his wayward son.
The question often asked of me is why a communist country like China gave me a known anti-communist- so much importance. The reasons for this are many. To begin with, communist countries ill-treat anticommunists only of their own country. But in dealing with those abroad, they look to see only if such persons are hostile to their own country. In my case, since for long I have advocated normal relations with China, when it was unpopular to do so, the Chinese leaders felt special warmth of feeling for me. My argument for supporting dialogue with China was that we should not have two enemies China and Pakistan, in the borders of our country. A Sino-Pakistan axis was dangerous for us, and it was making us depend on Russia too much. Therefore, I felt either China or Pakistan should be befriended. Pakistan could not be tackled because it was dominated by the USA, therefore not independent and could not be relied upon. China was an independent country, so we could talk with that country. China in turn had two enemies, Russia and USA and so it wanted to normalise relations with countries which could help either of its enemies. In our case, China’s normal relations with us meant that Russia could not use us to trouble China especially through Tibet. So both India and China would mutually gain from normal relations. This was my argument.
When I first raised the issue in 1967 of improving relations with China, K.R.Narayanan, our President today, was then a Joint Secretary in our External Affairs Ministry. He wrote me a letter once in 1967 saying it was unpatriotic to raise the issue since China had attacked India in 1962. Of course I did not agree. France and Germany attacked each other for centuries. Today they are good friends. Nations have permanents interests, not permanent friendships or permanent enmities. When interests coincide, friendships follow. When interests clash, enmity will be inevitable.
This exchange between me and Narayanan became public. Many people could not understand how I, a perceived pro-American, Harvard educated person be for friendship with China. Because I was anti-communist, people automatically thought that I was pro-American. This is wrong. I would be Pro-or-anti a country according what is in India’s interests. Everyone abroad understands this (but not my critics in India). That is why the Iraq’s leader Sadam Hussein, a bitter foe of USA & Israel, had personally invited me twice to Iraq. Last month, the leftist Prime Minister of Namibia (in Africa) invited me to lead a conference. In June, Vietnam had invited me to participate in an international get-together,
Chinese leaders therefore clearly understood that despite my anti-communism, it was my fierce concern for India’s interests which was motivating me for good relations with China, and that I had the courage to challenge the Russian lobbies in India, who were against China (despite being communists)! The Chinese admired me for this.
There was another reason why the Chinese found it easier to make friends with me. When I had just become a Professor at Harvard after getting my Ph.D. the world’s most famous and revered China Scholar at Harvard, John Fairbank called me up. This was in early 1964, just one and half years after the 1962 Chinese attack. Fairbank taunted me with the assertion: “Why are Indians so poor in learning Chinese? Six students from India were brought here by me on Scholarship at the request of Prime Minister Nehru for a three years course, to learn Chinese. All six have failed in the first semester.” My pride was hurt, so I retorted: “God knows where you got these six students. But if I wanted to, I can learn all the Chinese of a three year course in just six months.” Fairbank challenged me to prove it.
Later Fairbank told me that he had used this ploy to attract me to China studies. He succeeded. I went back to classes at Harvard to learn Chinese. I was a star student, and indeed in six months learn all the Chinese in a three year long course. But surprisingly the little Tamil I had learnt from my mother came useful. For example, Chinese and Tamil had some common words “Nii” means “You” in both languages. The exclamation “Aiyoyo” is the same in both the languages. Most American students could not pronounce the (‘zh’) sounds in Chinese. Since I had learnt to pronounce (‘pazham =fruit’) in Tamil from childhood, I had no difficulty. So I was a hit and favourite with my Chinese Teacher. She was convinced despite my denial, that I had spent my childhood in China. Otherwise how could I pronounce ‘zh’ so beautifully and so naturally, while American students floundered on it, struggling to say it as ‘zz’.
Because I could speak Chinese fluently, it was natural for the Chinese leaders to feel comfortable in my company. Chinese is a hard language to learn and so if some one learnt it, they assumed that the person had a love for China. Little did the Chinese realise that it had nothing to do with my love for China but more to disprove Fairbanks assertion.
After I learnt Chinese, I wrote many articles and books on Chinese Economy. Between 1970 and 1980 I published nearly 100 such writings. Most of it were critical of Chinese economic performance and Chairman Mao Tse Tung’s dictatorial policies. I was condemned by leftist intellectuals for these critical articles who thought Mao had revolutionized China. But the political changes in China during 1976 – 80, went in my favour. Mr.Deng Xiao Ping who took over the leadership in 1978 repudiated Mao, and said that he had ruined the Chinese Economy. World over among China Scholars, only I had written that in vain. Therefore the Chinese scholars immediately began quoting my articles to support Deng’s view.
At that time in 1980, China had applied to the World Bank for a soft loan (i.e., at low 1/2 % interest rate). This meant that China became a competitor with India for loans from the World Bank. To prevent China from getting the loans, the then Finance Minister Mr.R.Venkatraman foolishly argued with the World Bank that China did not qualify for the loans since according to some leftist economists, China’s per capita income was US$1000 compared India’s $250. To qualify for low interest loans from World Bank, the per capita income had to be less than $400. The World Bank President Mr.Robert McNamara made Mr.Venkatraman’s negative attitude look silly by quoting to him my study in which I had concluded that China’s per capita income was the same as India’s $250. So therefore, China qualified for the loan. Rather than correct himself, Mr.Venkatraman made his position more ridiculous by later suggesting to Mrs.Gandhi that on patriotic grounds I should be asked to revise my estimate of China’s per capita income upward to $1000! Mrs.Gandhi politely referred Mr.Venkatraman’s demand to me. I laughed at the request, but told her that she should call all the government experts to come to a conference with me, and prove my estimate wrong. Then I would revise it. Such a conference was arranged. About 40 government experts including the Reserve Bank Governor assembled in the then Foreign Secretary Mr.Ram Sathe’s office. For four hours I sat with them, but they could not find anything wrong with my estimate of China’s per capita income. Therefore, I did not revise my estimate. China got the soft loan from the World Bank despite Venkatraman’s protest because of my research paper on the Chinese economy. But our country’s name was spoiled by this negative attitude of our Finance Minister. The Chinese leaders came to know of this through the World Bank President Mr. McNamara. So they were emotionally moved. Therefore to thank me, the Chinese invited me to China to meet Mr.Deng Xiao Ping, considered as a great honor by one and all. Both India Today and Indian Express described my meeting with Deng as “historic” and covered it extensively.
When I reached Beijing in April 1981 I informed the Chinese Foreign Ministry that I would bring with me our Ambassador Mr.Shankar Bajpai to Mr.Deng’s meeting. The Chinese were upset, and said that this visit was for honouring me in my personal capacity as a scholar, and not as a representative of India. I insisted, saying that Our Ambassador must be present to take notes, and give me clarifications. Besides, I was an MP, hence automatically a representative of India. The Chinese were adamant. So finally I said that I will have to leave China without meeting Mr.Deng if the Ambassador cannot accompany me. This firmness on my part, that abroad I will not separate myself from our government, impressed the Chinese ultimately. They finally understood that I was for truth, but at the same time would stand by my own country.
When I finally met Mr.Deng, he grabbed my arm and said in Chinese: “Lao peng yeou”. This is the ultimate compliment in China to be called “an old friend” and that too by Mr.Deng, the Supreme leader of China. I raised the Assam agitators question with him right away, as I had promised Mrs.Gandhi. Deng asked me why I wanted to help Mrs.Gandhi who had tried to put me in jail during Emergency. I told him it was not a personal issue. If China gave arms to Assam agitators, then people of India will never forgive China, and it will ruin Sino-Indian relations. This would, of course, help Russia to create tensions between our two countries.
Deng appeared convinced. He said “Tell Mrs.Gandhi, if anyone crosses our border from India unauthorized, we will catch that person and hand him to your Border police”. This was the assurance Mrs.Gandhi was looking for.
Deng smiled at me, said “Anything else?” I immediately jumped at that, and said “You have closed Manasarovar for 25 years. This is our holy spot, so please open it for our pilgrims”. Deng did not know anything about Mount Kailash, but his officers explained in Chinese to him, about how difficult the place was to travel to etc. Deng turned to me said with a challenging smile: “If you promise to go there yourself, by walking to Mount Kailash, I will order it’s re-opening”. In September 1981 later that year, I became the first Indian to visit Kailash and Manasarovar after 25 years. Kailash has been open to Hindu pilgrims ever since. Every year about 200 – 300 pilgrims go there.
Deng then turned to his other favourite topics like Vietnam, Russia, economic reform etc., He took me and our Ambassador however by surprise by suddenly declaring to me: “Tell Mrs.Gandhi, I want to improve relations with India. So I am sending our Foreign Minister Huang Hua to India later this year”. Huang Hua came in June 1981, and after that Sino-Indian relations has been steadily improving without a break.
After about 100 minutes of meeting, I took leave of the then 71 years Mr.Deng. He said “you look so young (I was 41 years old then). In your long career ahead, there will be ups and down, but always be optimistic. We thank you for your help to us”.
I felt very pleased with that meeting because despite my not being a Minister then, my efforts laid the foundations for improvement in Sino-Indian relations. Ten years later in 1991 when I returned to Beijing as India’s Commerce Minister, India signed the first Trade Protocol with China in which exports and imports were given a boost. Within two days, I could complete the negotiations, because I was China’s and Deng’s “Lao peng yeou” (old friend). The Chinese were ready to please, because unlike us, are a grateful people. They never forget favours . President Nixon of USA had normalized American relations with China in 1972. After that Nixon landed into the Watergate scandal, and had to resign in 1974. But the Chinese never forgot him for normalizing Sino-US relations and treated him with honour as if nothing had happened. That is why China has so many friends in the world today and we have so few.
After my meeting with Deng Xiao Ping, I was widely recognised all over the world as one who could talk to China frankly. Many business people asked me if I would become their consultant for fat fees, for trade with China. I turned them all down, because the best relations are non-commercial. In 1988, Rajiv Gandhi was to go to China. He asked me to accompany him so that I could help him with Deng. I agreed but later Rajiv changed his mind. He laughingly told me: “My advisers say that if you come with me to China, the Chinese will treat you better and on a higher status than me”. He quoted M.J.Akbar, a newspaper editor in support of this view. Since Rajiv and I were good friends, I did not mind his frankness. At least he was truthful.
India and China should try to be friends. Only then we can manage Pakistan. Deng helped us to restore normal relations and we should never forget that.
Charan Singh – The much misunderstood giant
Charan Singh, popularly known in North India as “Choudhary Saheb”, was in my opinion one of the most honest politicians in India. He was also one of the most well read, and of scholarly bent of mind, contrary to popular impressions. Yet he was type-cased by the media as an opportunistic village rustic, someone who had no national vision.
I first met Charan Singh in Lucknow in 1974 when I was contesting the Rajya Sabha seat. We were not in the same party then; to get me defeated he had set up industrialist K.K.Birla as an independent candidate. Birla went about openly buying MLAs who were expected to vote for me. So the situation was precarious. But Charan Singh decided to cast the second preference votes of his party for me, thus ensuring my victory. I did not know Charan Singh much then since I barely been in politics for two years. I too had formed an impression that he was a village rustic, and not worth talking seriously. Little did I realise that in his last days twelve years later I would become one of his closest confidants and his admirer.
Charan Singh met me in the UP Vidhan Sabha premises when he came to cast his vote. He was an MLA then, and leader of 105 MLAs of the Bharatya Lok Dal (BLD). The BLD in 1977 merged with Janatha Party, and donated the farmer with plough symbol to the new party. This is the symbol of Janatha Party even today.
When Charan Singh saw me in the UP Vidhan Sabha, he spoke to me in fluent English. He said: “Young man, despite you abusing me in the UP Assembly election campaign (held in 1973), I have forgiven you and voted for you. I am impressed with your educational qualifications and intelligence, so I voted for you. When you are elected, come and see me”. I thanked Charan Singh for voting for me, but I was dazed by his simplicity and English diction. But after defeating K.K.Birla and becoming MP, I went straight to Delhi. I corresponded with Charan Singh, but since he mostly stayed in Lucknow, and I in Delhi, we could not meet till 1977.
In Feb 1977, after Elections to Lok Sabha had been declared, I returned from USA to contest elections. Both Charan Singh and I were in the same party the Janatha Party. So I went to see him. At that time, he was staying in a small flat in Vithal bhai Patel House. When I met him, he was in the midst of a huge crowd relaxing in sunshine on that cold February day. As soon as he saw me, joy came over his face. I had thought he might rebuke me for not seeing him earlier, but Charan Singh did not. He simply shouted to his followers to gather. Soon about 500 people, mostly farmers from Haryana and UP, gathered. “Choudhary Saheb” caught me by the hand, took me to the gathering and introduced me in a lavish way. He said: “This is Dr.Swamy, my friend. Do you know him?” The crowd had come to know of me during the Emergency by reading newspapers and listening to my BBC broadcasts. So they all nodded enthusiastically.
Charan Singh said: “We are a nation of cowards. Very few people have courage in our country. But we have survived because there are always some Indians with extra-ordinary courage. Rana Pratap and Subash Bose are examples. Now after the Emergency struggle, we have one more example — Dr.Subramanian Swamy.” The crowd cheered. I was very much touched. I said to myself that here is political leader whose follower I am not, and barely know him. And yet he praised me like this in public.
After all the greetings were exchanged, I took leave of Charan Singh, and promised to see him soon. I next saw Charan Singh after he had become Home Minister. I went to his residence in Akbar Road. But unlike many other politicians power had not affected him. He was as simple and warm as before. He got up to receive me, and put the palm of land on my forearm, and asked: “why did not Morarji make you a Minister?” I replied “He says that he cannot make me a Cabinet Minister because I am not old enough, and I will not accept a Minister of state”. Charan Singh smiled and said: “Bahadur aadmi (braveman). It is good to wait. Look at me, I am 77 years old, and first time Central Minister. You are 37, and already a two term MP. Nothing to worry.” he comforted me.
Then Charan Singh put his hand on my shoulder, and asked, “Will Morarji be grateful to me, that I made him Prime Minister?” Charan Singh was right that he helped make Morarji PM; because of his 112 MPs in the Janata tally of 320 MPs his support to Morarji over Jagjivan Ram decided the contest in favour of Morarji Desai. But Morarji had already told me that God had made him PM, that he had asked no one to support him. Hence if he is to be grateful to anyone on this earth, it is to the whole Janata Party and not to anyone particular leader. Otherwise, destiny made him.
I could sense trouble brewing here. Morarji was a evolved sadhu, and did not care who thought what about him. Charan Singh, for all his education, was essentially a simple patriarch, with a deep sense of expecting gratitude for favours done and return favours. Therefore, he wanted Morarji to show deference to him. This developing clash was a pity because ideologically Morarji and Charan Singh were on the same side, more in the Gandhiji-Sardar Patel line than in Nehru’s. Morarji and Charan Singh were for simple living, were honest, and strong believers in prohibition. If Morarji was the brain of the Janata, Charan Singh was the spinal cord of the party. We needed both Janatha to be strong.
Since both men were strict disciplinarians other less strict and more corrupt Janatha leaders saw personal advantage in dividing the two. Atal Behari Vajpayee was, for example, feeling insecure with Morarji for asking him to give up alcoholic drinks. On one occasion, when the Japanese Foreign Minister gave a dinner party in the Japanese Embassy in New Delhi, Vajpayee had became quite drunk in that party. I had been also invited to that dinner, and was horrified to see our Foreign Minister drunk. Morarji came to know of this through the Intelligence Bureau, so he asked me for confirmation, which I gladly gave. Morarji then called Vajpayee in my presence, and gave him big firing. Vajpayee had no answer except to giggle like a school girl caught stealing. But naturally he felt humiliated.
To keep Morarji in check, Vajpayee began poisoning Charan Singh’s mind. It was he who first put the idea of becoming PM in Charan Singh’s mind. Like a typical trouble maker, Vajpayee could carry tales to Morarji about Charan Singh, and vice versa. The ‘credit’ thus of laying the foundation for the break up of Janata Party and the fall of its government, really goes to Vajpayee and not to Charan Singh as is popularly thought. The split came in 1979, and Charan Singh became PM with Indira Gandhi’s help. I stayed in Janata with Morarji. Vajpayee ditched Charan Singh at the last minute, and decided to stay in the Janata Party. A year later, he ditched Morarji, and left the Janata to form the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and become its President.
Despite my remaining with Morarji in Janatha, I kept my good relations with Charan Singh, and met him often. Charan Singh also knowing fully well that I had cast my lot with Morarji never let that affect his warmth towards me. It was Charan Singh’s respect for my scholarship and education and not politics which drew him to me. In our meetings therefore during this period we rarely discussed politics, but books which are worth reading in economics and history.
In 1984, Morarji asked me to contest against Chandrasekhar for Janata Party President in the Party polls. This enraged Chandrasekhar and Hegde (who were later to full apart), and who saw it as a plot by Morarji to regain control of the party before the General Elections to the Lok Sabha in 1984 end.
Breaking all the rules of the party Constitution, Chandrasekhar got me expelled from the Janata Party. The first phone call I got after the expulsion, was from Charan Singh. He made critical remarks about Chandrasekhar (whom he had never liked), and then took me by surprise by inviting me to join his party. “I want someone like you to be with me with whom I can discuss.” he said. He had recently written a book on the Indian Economy, detailing how the farmers had been exploited. I had given him a note on how he could improve his thesis in the second edition of the book. He was delighted, but almost childlike asked me: ” Why cannot my books be recognized abroad. No one reads them here. And because of communist influence in our Universities, it will never be prescribed for students.” I promised to do something someday.
In the 1984 Elections, after Mrs.Gandhi’s assassination, except Charan Singh, all of us in the opposition including Chandrasekhar, Vajpayee and myself lost the elections. So, thinking that a young Rajiv Gandhi of 40 years old, with a huge majority will remain in power for 15 years at least like his mother and grandfather, I decided to take a holiday from politics. I was also only 44 then, young by Indian political standards, so I could wait.
Harvard University, upon learning that I had lost the elections, invited me to return to teach economics. When I resumed my teaching in June 1985 at Harvard, I remembered Charan Singh’s wish to have international recognition for his book. So I used my professor status to prescribe his book in the economic courses in the university. Harvard formally wrote to Charan Singh asking him to send 350 copies of the book for purchase.
When Charan Singh received the letter (his wife later told me) tears came down his eyes. In an emotional burst he said “I have only one true friend that is Swamy”. It occurred to me that Charan Singh, despite having become PM, essentially craved to be intellectually recognized. He hated the media hype casting him as a village Jat rustic, and ignoring his writing as a thinker. It also hurt him and made him sad.
I remember one day in 1982, he telephoned me to come and see him. I thought something important had happened. When I was with him, seated on the floor in Gandhian style, he asked me, his eyes moist: “Swamy, is there a ritual you know by which I can become a Brahmin?” “Why Choudhary Saheb?” I asked “What value is it to be a Brahmin today?” “See what this correspondent has written “he said showing a newspaper report which described Charan Singh as an “Illiterate”. Then Charan Singh said to me “Unless you are a Brahmin, your intellectual ability will never be allowed to be recognized. Jawaharlal Nehru’s books are of less scholarly value than mine, and yet he is called ‘Panditji’ and I am denounced as an illiterate. Why?” Unless I become a Brahmin, my writings will not be recognized”.
I agreed with him that while he wrote on difficult economics subjects, Nehru’s works dealt with easy essays in history. I also argued that the urban English media is not to be taken seriously. But throughout my association with Charan Singh, I felt that while politicians felt jealous of his solid electoral base he instead would have been happy if he was recognized as a scholar. And of course he should have been in my opinion, regarded as a top intellectual. But because he did not have any outward westernization and was dressed very simply, the city-based people never respected him. It had nothing to do with his not being a Brahmin. Vajpayee is a Brahmin, but he is not regarded as an intellectual.
After some months, one day while I was at Harvard, I received a telephone call from Mr. Ajit Singh, son of Charan Singh He said that his father had been admitted for treatment in Baltimore Hospital, and is barely conscious. He had suffered a stroke.
I took the next plane from Boston to Baltimore, and went straight to the hospital. I was joined by Mrs.Charan Singh and Ajit Singh. Despite being in semi-conscious state, when Charan Singh saw me, he recognized me and tears rolled down his cheeks. Mrs. Charan Singh told me that Charan Singh had never forgotten that I prescribed his books at Harvard. Today he does not recognize unless someone has touched his heart and memory in some big way. For others, his memory has failed him. That is why tears rolled down his cheeks on seeing.
Charan Singh spoke a few words to me, but they were all unconnected with anything relevant. For instance he kept asking me to be aware of another Emergency coming, and rigging of General Elections. Clearly, the stroke he had suffered had also affected his brain. USA could not cure him. Charan Singh was flown back to India. I returned from Harvard after nearly two years. Charan Singh was still alive, but in a semi-conscious state, I went to see him at his Tughlak Road residence. His wife Gayathri and Ajit warned me that he may not open his eyes or even recognize me after this long absence. But as soon as I entered the room, he opened his eyes, his body shook, and he cried. Ajit explained that this was his only way of saying “hello” and this emotion was reserved for a very few. Obviously, the simple joy of having his books prescribed at Harvard had made an indelible impression on him. I said goodbye to him; he died a few days later.
During the 1980′s, Charan Singh had spoken a lot about his son Ajit Singh, then an Engineer in USA. As a tribute to Charan Singh, I brought Ajit Singh from the wilderness of politics to make him the Janatha Party President. He did not stay long and soon left the party to join V.P.Singh.
Charan Singh was the most misunderstood political leader of India. Had he been given a full term as PM, he would have revolutionized Indian agriculture. He was a person a great courage. He opposed Jawaharlal Nehru in the famous Nagpur AICC when Nehru wanted to collectivize agriculture like in the communist countries. His grip over UP rural masses was so strong that once on an election campaign in Farrukabad, UP, he asked the people to vote against his own party candidate because he drank alcoholic drinks, and asked them to vote for an obscure Independent candidate! If Ajit Singh is winning his election today, it is entirely because of the love people of U.P. have for Charan Singh. Those who knew him loved him. Those who didn’t made fun of him for superficial considerations
The Kamaraj I knew
I first met Thiru.Kamaraj when I was just 9 years old in early 1949. Kamaraj had come to our residence in New Delhi for lunch. My father was in government service then, after a period as lecturer in mathematics in Annamalai University. When my father was a student and later lecturer, he was closely associated with Satyamurti, the popular Congress leader and member of the fore-runner of our Parliament — namely the Central Legislative Assembly. Because of this closeness with Satyamurti, my father came to know Thiru.Kamaraj .
When Kamaraj came to our house, naturally there was little to discuss between us since I was only 9 years old, and Kamaraj appeared not interested in anything else except politics and India’s freshly achieved freedom. But I sat with my father and Kamaraj, and heard their conversation, which was mostly about Rajaji, which I did not understand.
I next met Kamaraj in 1968 after he had lost the elections. I was then a Professor of Economics at Harvard University in USA and was on a short summer vacation trip to India to give lectures at the Delhi school of Economics in Delhi University. To fix an appointment, I simply telephoned Thiru.Kamaraj on the number in the Telephone Directory. When he came on the line, I explained who was I, in my broken Tamil (which I could barely speak in those days) and reminded him of his coming to our house in1949! Either out of sweetness or just genuine memory, he recalled that meeting, and immediately invited me to see him at his Jantarmantar residence.
When I met Kamaraj at his Delhi residence, he had hardly any visitors. He had been defeated at the polls, and Indira Gandhi whom he had made Prime Minister, was not listening to him. So he was glum and quite alone. He gave me a good filter coffee and asked me only one question in broken English – What do the Americans think of India and Indira Gandhi? Not much conversation could take place however since I tried to speak to him in my broken Tamil and he tried to make me understand in his broken English!
My next meeting took place in April 1974. By then, I had become an MP. Thiru.Kamaraj had invited me for lunch to his new residence at Ashoka road. We had first met that morning in Morarji Desai’s residence where we had all been asked to assemble to celebrate. Morarji had got his demand on holding Gujarat Assembly elections conceded following his fast unto death, which fast was broken on the fifty day. So we all went to celebrate. Kamaraj saw me there and asked me to come with him to his residence. I was pleased that he gave so much recognition and went with him to his place.
At the lunch table, Kamaraj said to me that since I enjoyed JP’s confidence, I should ensure that Morarji Desai is not made the combined opposition candidate for Prime Minister. I felt honoured that he trusted me with his confidence, but asked him why he was against Morarji. He replied in the simplest Tamil, with gestures to make sure that I understood that Morarji was too rigid to head a coalition of opposition parties. It needed someone more flexible in nature, he said. Kamaraj wanted me convince JP of this. Kamaraj-Morarji enmity originated from the time Nehru in 1963 used the “Kamaraj Plan” to dislodge Morarji from the Finance Ministry.
I asked Kamaraj why he did not think of himself to lead the coalition. He said that the North, which had majority of the Lok Sabha seats, will not tolerate for long anyone who did not know Hindi. He had not learnt Hindi, so when in 1964 Nehru died; he brought in Lal Bahadur Shastri. At that time, he himself could have become PM, but because of this reason he declined to do so. Then he added: “Unless you know how to reprimand Northerners in Hindi, they will not listen to you!”
He then congratulated me for getting elected to Parliament from UP. “It is a real credit for a Tamilian to come to Parliament from UP.” But he added a warning: “Today you are a youngster, so they may accept you , because you speak Hindi, and can abuse them in Hindi. But after some years, when you become a big leader, you will have to come to Tamilnadu and go from there. With a name like Subramanian Swamy you will always be considered a Tamilian in UP, even if you speak Hindi like them. So sooner or later, you will have to shift to Tamilnadu to be in Parliament. “. This advice of Kamaraj never left my mind and memory. After I became Commerce Minister in 1990, I knew time had come to implement Kamaraj’s advice.
I next met Kamaraj accidentally at Meenambakkam Airport in Madras on May 1, 1975. This was to be our last meeting since soon after, the Emergency was declared. On October 1, 1975, Kamaraj passed away. I was underground then evading a MISA arrest warrant, so I could not even come to pay my last respects to his body.
But this last meeting was the most rewarding experience. Kamaraj and I were together for three and half hours—one hour in the airport lounge and 2 1/2 hours on the flight seated together. My Tamil had improved to the point that Kamaraj felt comfortable to speak freely and continuously in Tamil with me. His Tamil was simple and not like the cinema dialogues of today.
When he saw me at the airport, the first thing he said was that henceforth when I come to Madras, I must first look him up. He also asked me to accompany him on tours so that my Tamil will improve and I could be sent to Lok Sabha from Tamil Nadu. He was in a very good mood on that day because he had been drawing very large crowds in his meetings. Lok Sabha elections were near, due then in February 1976, only nine months away. So Kamaraj was feeling confident about the future, and planning for it.
On the flight, Kamaraj spent most of his time telling me on the evil deeds of Mrs.Gandhi, and why it was important to unseat her. When I half-jokingly suggested that it was he who made her PM, he replied that it was all the more his responsibility to unseat her. Then he asked me. “Do you know who killed [Commerce minister] L.N.Mishra?” “I know the gossip, but nothing concrete”. I replied. “In the Lok Sabha election, I will reveal everything” Kamaraj added.
In the flight, on the other side of aisle, was sitting Mr.C.Subramaniam, then minister of Finance. During the entire flight or at the airport, he never said even “hello” to Kamaraj. This was surprising since Subramaniam owed his political career to Kamaraj. But he was probably afraid that Indira Gandhi may misunderstand his courtesy to Kamaraj, and drop him from the Finance Ministership! Such is the Tamil political culture even today.
Kamaraj pointed to CS and whispered to me: “Do you know who he is?” I said “Of course, he is the Finance Minister”. Kamaraj then said: “He knows everything about L.N.Mishra”.
“How?” I asked. “In 1967 when Indira Gandhi dropped L.N.Mishra from Deputy Home Ministership, she sent this man to me to explain. Mishra had been brought to Rajya Sabha by me, so I had been unhappy”, Kamaraj said.
” CS explained to me that Indira Gandhi had been furious with Mishra for bringing to her notice little incidents in which Sanjay Gandhi had landed in trouble, such as rash driving in which a cyclist had been injured. CS said that Mishra had informed Mrs.Gandhi that he paid the cyclist and hushed up the matter. In those days Sanjay was always in trouble, but CS told me that Mrs.Gandhi was annoyed that Mishra was trying to blackmail her. So to teach him a lesson, she had removed him from the Ministership.”
Then Kamaraj looked straight at me and said “If that was the case in 1967, then how was it that in 1969 she not only brought him back, promoted him to a full Minister and gave him the money-spinning Commerce portfolio? How did he win back her confidence?” I was speechless. Kamaraj then added: I will speak about this also in the LokSabha election campaign”.
But then why did you team up with her in the [Feb.1974] Pondicherry Assembly elections? I asked.
“Big mistake. I did not want it, but my associates were pushing for it, and in a weak moment I yielded” Kamaraj replied. “But now after L.N.Mishra’s murder, I am determined not to have anything to do with Indira Gandhi or her party”, he firmly added.
Our flight reached Delhi. On parting with Kamaraj at the airport, I promised to meet him again and travel around the Tamilnadu countryside with him. I got the distinct feeling that Kamaraj wanted to project me for a role in Delhi, and therefore wanted to get to know me better. But it was never to be. Events overtook us.
Emergency was declared on June 26, 1975. I was told that Kamaraj wept, and held himself personally responsible for promoting Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister. But his grief in the loss of democracy was so great that he fell ill, and never recovered. He died on October 1, 1975.
Kamaraj can be counted as one of the greatest Tamil leaders of post Independence era. He was honest, simple and yet a visionary. He developed Tamilnadu to the point where it became the best administered state in the country till the cinema culture of the DMK ruined the state.
Knowing Kamaraj I can say that those who left his party in 1976 and joined Indira Gandhi in the midst of the Emergency by claiming that Kamaraj had wanted it are guilty of double treachery: First in insulting his memory by joining Indira Gandhi while the Emergency was still on, and many were in jail under MISA, and second, by claiming that Kamaraj’s last wish was this—to join Indira Gandhi!
I know Kamaraj’s real last wish. It was to build a strong opposition party to both Indira Gandhi and the DMK (who were allies in 1974) and bring back honest rule to the state. Those who claim otherwise are not true followers of Kamaraj.
Morarji Desai – my true friend
Morarji Desai – my true friend
I was first introduced to Morarji Desai in 1975 when senior leaders were finding it difficult to bring him and Jayaprakash Narayan on the same wave length of thinking and pushed me in the front to dare to talk to both. As I have already described in my earlier article, if it were not for my audacity in bringing JP and Morarji together, the June 25th 1975 historic Ramlila Ground meeting in Delhi (which Mrs. Gandhi used as an excuse to declare Emergency),would never have taken place. The Emergency was originally scheduled for June 22nd when JP was to address the rally, but his Patna-Delhi Indian Airlines flight got cancelled, and so Mrs.Gandhi postponed the decision. She wanted to use JP’s speech as an excuse. It is a wonder to me that had I not succeeded to bringing the two together on June 25th, and the meeting thus cancelled, would the declaration of Emergency been further postponed, or even Mrs.Gandhi changed her mind about the idea itself with a little more time to think about it?
My Next meeting with Morarji Desai was a stormy one. It was a meeting demanded by Morarji to give me a lecture. It was also meeting that became a turning point because after that Morarji and I became very close.
The General Elections to Lok Sabha were declared on January 18, 1977 when I was abroad, having escaped again after a dramatic appearance on the floor of Parliament despite an MISA arrest warrant and the highest reward on my head for my capture. This was my second escape abroad during the Emergency.
Morarji had been released from prison, and in his first press conference, a pro-Congress news reporter taunted him with the question about Mrs.Gandhi’s allegation that opposition leaders had run away abroad rather than go to jail. The news reporter mentioned my name in this connection.
Morarji angrily reacted to the question by remarking that it did not matter because I was not a “front rank” leader. I did not mind that remark because I was then only 37 years old, and only been four years in politics. But I had resented Morarji’s failure to rebut the idea that I had “run away”. Actually I was abroad on JP’s direction to awaken the world to the Emergency’s atrocities, and Morarji had known that. It would have been easy to stay in jail. Because I had evaded arrest under MISA, Mrs.Gandhi put 18 false cases against me, declared me a “proclaimed offender”, and confiscated my property, household goods and car. My two daughters Gitanjali aged 5 and Suhasini aged 2 had to suffer trauma of not knowing where their father was, not to mention the harassment suffered by my wife in going to court for my cases, and who was always against my leaving academics (that too Harvard) for politics.
When I returned to India on February 5th, 1977 to contest Lok Sabha, I was red hot with anger. My other political colleagues sensed that I would retaliate, so advised me restraint till elections were over. But in my first press conference after return, the same press reporter taunted me with Morarji’s remark. I found it difficult to contain myself, and yet the cause of winning the elections loomed in my mind. So, I replied: “Morarjibhai is right. I cannot be front rank leader because I am not 80 years old. This was front page box item news. Everybody found it humorous and had a good laugh. But not Morarji. He was even more angry. So he sent word to me to see him in the Jantar Mantar Party office. I refused saying I don’t recognize him as my leader.
Morarji then surprised me by asking me to come to his Bombay residence for tea. I relented, and went to see him. Morarji’s took me to meet him in the privacy of his bedroom. The conversation went like this:
Morarji : “Why have you called attention of the press to my age?”
Swamy : “Because you called attention to my age”
Morarji : “But you are not a front rank leader today”
Swamy : “I have publicly agreed with you on this. So what is your objection?”
Morarji : “Do you realize that your remark on my age is helping Mrs.Gandhi’s propaganda?”
Swamy : “Do you realize that your silence on Mrs.Gandhi allegation that I ran away abroad had hurt my reputation and the feelings of my family?”
Morarji : “Why did you not go to jail? I don’t believe in evading arrest”
Swamy : “Who cares about what you believe. JP asked me to go abroad and organize. Abroad I agitated against your detention. This was a mistake, I agree”
Morarji : “JP asked you? No one told me so”
Swamy : “As a leader you should have found out”
Morarji : “Yes, that was my mistake. But still you should not have remarked about my age”
: “I did not realize Mrs.Gandhi would exploit it. It is my mistake for which I am sorry”
Morarji was immediately moved by my saying sorry. “Young man”, he said “You are blunt and truthful. I admire your courage, even if I do not approve of this underground activity. Let us be friends”.
From that day on wards, even if Morarji did nothing much for me politically, he was always on my side helping me where he could and I remained his friend till his last breath. When his Cabinet was formed, it was widely thought that I would be made a Cabinet Minister for my role in the Emergency, but Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had played a disgraceful role of writing an apology letter to Mrs.Gandhi during the Emergency – to come out on parole out of jail, – controlled 91 Jan Sangh MPs. Vajpayee was given to tremendous jealousy, and it is the root cause of the mess BJP is in today. He found my “Emergency Hero” status unbearable especially since he wanted to hide his own surrender shame. He therefore prevailed upon Morarji to offer me only a Minister of State with independent charge. Morarji also thought that at the age of 37, a Cabinet Ministership was too early.
When I turned down the junior Ministership, Morarji was truly impressed. He called me to have dinner with him to express his appreciation. At the dinner, he expressed his approval of my simple habits (no drinking, no smoking), my courage, and my education. At one stage, he said to me “You should have come into contact with me years earlier”. From that day onwards till his death, I was one of the few who could see Morarji at any time or any place that I wanted especially at his lunch (10 AM) or dinner time (6.30 PM). Throughout his Prime Ministership, I was regularly the last visitor to see him (8.30 PM). Very often, Morarji would invite me to come with him on trips within the country on the special Air Force Plane. Morarji had clearly taken a liking for me and my boldness.
Morarji helped me to break the ice with China. Vajpayee as Foreign Minister blocked my visit for one year, but in 1978, Morarji saw that I went first to China. He accepted my view about China, and rejected Vajpayee’s, who was keen to keep the Soviet Union pleased. Even on Israel, Morarji accepted my view and invited Moshe Dayan to visit India.
Because of the factionalism in the Janata Party, during his tenure as PM, he could not make me a Cabinet Minister. Delhi was always abuzz with the rumour that he was about to induct me as Foreign Minister because he was fed up with Vajpayee’s drinking habits whenever he went abroad or his indiscretion with women. But the 91 MPs of the Jan Sangh group was Vajpayee’s strength, so Morarji kept postponing the date. Then there was the Raj Narain nuisance. However in June 1979, Raj Narain was expelled from the Janatha Party, and everything was under control– or so it seemed. It was then I was confidently told by insiders that Morarji would bring me into the Cabinet in the September 1979 re-shuffle. That re-shuffle never came because Morarji quit office in July 1979. But the greatness of Morarji was exhibited in those trying moments when he was betrayed by colleague after colleague, each trying to become Prime Minister. Some got a bad name for it such as Charan Singh, but the real culprits were Vajpayee and Ramakrishna Hegde who pushed Morarji into a confrontation with Charan Singh, and then let Morarji down.
Provoked by what he mistakenly took as Morarji induced insults, Charan Singh broke the party, and the Janatha Party lost majority. Then Vajpayee and Hegde produced a list of 279 MPs of which 23 MPs signatures were forged. The President Mr.Sanjiva Reddy was alerted to it by the IB, and he made it public. Morarji gallantly took the blame and quit public life. It should have been Vajpayee and Hegde who should have quit, but they left Morarji holding the bag and owning responsibility! Such was their character.
Later at his residence at night I asked Morarji why he took the blame when he was blameless and paid such a heavy price. He said simply: “After all, I am the leader. I must sink with the ship”. Such was his greatness.
Morarji never recovered from the 1979 debacle. But till his death, he tried to help me to the extent he could. He backed me for becoming the President of the Janatha Party to replace Chandrasekhar as early a 1981. He tried again in 1984, but Chandrasekhar and Hegde combined to get me expelled from the party rather than pose to challenge. Later Hegde got ambitious and tried to push Chandrasekhar. It was ironic that Chandrasekhar sought my help. Since of the two, Chandrasekhar was a better person, I launched a campaign against Hegde on telephone tapping and land scandals for which Hegde was responsible. He had to resign from the Karnataka Chief Ministership and has been marginalized in politics ever since.
For Morarji, the most hurtful part of his life was when cheap allegation was hurled on him by an American author, of being a CIA agent. There could not have been a greater patriot than Morarji, but he was slandered like Sita was in Ramayana. It was the only time I saw Morarji’s eyes moist. But he told me: “It is the law of Karma. I must have wronged somebody in my past life”.
I advised him to ignore the charge since every newspaper editorial in the country came to his defense. No politician however came explicitly to his defence. Some attacked him. In Lok Sabha, I stoutly defended him which pleased him immensely. But his other friends were not satisfied. They wanted him to sue the author in US courts. Morarji chose to ignore my advice, and he suffered even more going to US in cold winters to pursue the case and raise money for legal fees. It was a futile exercise, and a waste of time and money. Morarji was deeply hurt by outcome and regretted his decision to fight a defamation case in a US court. He seemed to lose all desire for public life.
But Morarji was getting old too. He was nearing 90. Soon he simply retired completely and never left Bombay. But he would keep inquiring about me. During my struggle against the Jayalalitha government, and the violence let loose against me, Morarji would chuckle and say, “Foolish woman. Does she not know your exploits in the Emergency?” But he kept telling me to be careful about my life and limb. I know he was concerned from his heart.
When Morarji died, he saved my life. Strange as it may seem, I was driving in last week of April 1995 to Pondicherry to address a public meeting. At Tindivanam, a huge crowd was waiting for me to with petrol bombs and acid filled eggs. They were planning to stop my car and set it on fire, thereby roasting me to death. The crowd was AIADMK sponsored, and they were particularly angry at my getting sanction to prosecute their leader, Ms.Jayalalitha. They wanted to prove their loyalty to her.
I had no idea that this mob was waiting for me, since as usual the Tamilnadu Police had disappeared from Tindivanam. As my car was speeding towards Tindivanam, in a small town about 10 Kms away, a few people blocked my car to give me the news that Morarji Desai had passed away.
I immediately told Chandralekha who was travelling with me, that I must return and catch a flight to Bombay. My party people accompanying me and Chandralekha thought that since a huge crowd would be waiting in Pondicherry to hear my speech, I should fulfil that commitment first. I could pass a condolence resolution in that meeting, they suggested. But my emotional attachment to Morarji was deep. Therefore I insisted on cancelling the programme and returning right away.
When I reached Chennai three hours later there was an urgent call from Dr.Chenna Reddy, from Pondicherry. There was real concern in his voice. I thought he was calling about Morarji, but he asked me: “Are you alright?” I said yes but asked him why. He replied “Thank God! There was an AIADMK mob ready to murder you, burn you alive. Thank God you did not go to Tindivanam”. Dr.Channa Reddy later wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Mr.Narasimha Rao about it.
But I said: “Thank God, and thank your Morarji bhai. Even in your last breath you thought of helping me”.
I flew to Ahmedabad via Bombay, and meditated by the side of Morarji’s body. I am rarely moved to tears. But on that day, tears rolled down my cheeks when I saw Morarji’s body I placed a wreath on his body and said “Good bye, my Friend. I shall never forget you”.
Morarji was a great inspiration for four reasons:
First, he came from an ordinary school teacher’s family, and while remaining completely honest, simple, fearless and truthful, he rose by sheer hard work to become the Prime Minister of India. Those who say that we have to be corrupt to rise in politics should learn from Morarji’s example.
Second, Morarji was a man of guts and conviction. Even JP came out of jail during the Emergency on parole (though justifiably), but Morarji despite 20 months of solitary confinement did not budge. He even refused to talk with Mrs.Gandhi’s emissaries about compromise.
Third, Morarji was noble and humane. After he became PM, Mrs.Gandhi went to see him and request an allotment of a government bungalow. Despite protest from many Janata Party leaders, he treated her with respect and allotted her a spacious bungalow. “After all, she was our Prime Minister for 11 years” he told me one day.
Fourth, Morarji had a complete philosophy of life. It was he (and course the divine grace of Parmacharya Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi) who educated me on how not to be disheartened by failure. He would say “Plans are good only for 10 percent of your success. Events control 90 percent of the failure. You can plan, but God only controls events”. Morarji’s commentary on Bhagwat Gita is still one of the best that I have read of any commentators.
Like Patel and Subash Bose, Morarji’s stature will grow with time.
Rajiv Gandhi – my friend
My first contact with Rajiv Gandhi came when he entered Lok Sabha in 1982 in a by-election. I was too in Lok Sabha then re-elected from Bombay in 1980. However before this, Rajiv communicated with me regularly through a journalist since 1977. The first communication was a thanks -,as a gratitude for defending him in a Parliamentary Party Executive of the Janata Party presided over by Morarji Desai.
In one meeting, George Fernandez, the most characterless person in Indian Politics, had demanded that the PM take action against Rajiv Gandhi then an Indian Airlines pilot, for allegedly taking bribe in a 1973 purchase of Boeings by Indian Airlines. All that I said in the meeting was that Rajiv Gandhi should not be dragged in merely because he was the son of Indira Gandhi. There must be concrete proof. Morarji agreed with me, and asked Fernandez for evidence which of course he did not have. So the matter was dropped. In fact Fernandez’s socialist colleague Mr.Purushottam Kaushik was Civil Aviation Minister and he remained silent too.
Naturally the word spread, and a journalist who lives in London now, called me to convey the thanks and the proposal that Rajiv and I meet. In fact, this journalist printed posters and pasted it all over Delhi to proclaim that “Rajiv exonerated by Swamy”. I told this journalist that there was nothing to thank since I was doing what was humanly decent. Further I said to him that Rajiv was neither in politics nor did he participate in the Emergency. In fact he had disapproved of what his brother Sanjay did. I also felt that there was no need to meet for this purpose.
Rajiv never forgot this, and when he came to Lok Sabha, he came over to my seat and formally introduced himself although he did not need introduction. That was his simplicity that remained a hall mark till his end. He was a sweet person too, always speaking in soft tone. My friendship grew with time. Mrs.Indira Gandhi was delighted with this development because she felt that Rajiv needed friends of his age group (Rajiv was four years younger) who knew politics. But I had little time because I was mostly touring and mostly away from Delhi. In those days I travelled a lot abroad too on official invitations from China, Israel, U.K., Pakistan, Japan etc…
Still Rajiv and I met in Parliament sometimes and discussed various national topics which because of his non-political background. The only point on which we had disagreement was over Punjab, and that too because he came under influence of two rootless persons Arun Nehru and Arun Singh. Both ditched him later when the Bofors scandal unfolded.
By 1984, Rajiv and I had become friendly enough to joke with each other. But 1984 was a terrible year with the Golden Temple Bluestar fiasco, and then Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. The terrible holocaust, of Sikh genocide of November 1984 had very much upset me. I had also become unpopular in North India because I was the only Hindu politician to oppose operation Bluestar, which had fanned Hindu fanaticism. Chandrasekhar also had me expelled from Janatha Party. This made me lose the 1984 Lok Sabha election, as did practically every opposition leader because of the sympathy wave due to the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi. I met Rajiv Gandhi briefly during his mother’s funeral. He simply said “Swamy, Join me”. Only later I came to know he had wanted me to join the Congress Party at that juncture.
After my defeat in the elections, I was invited by Harvard University to rejoin as Professor of Economics. So in early 1985 left for Harvard and stayed as Professor there for two years. All through 1985 I wrote critical articles of Rajiv Gandhi’s policies which in my style were hard-hitting. I was sure that because of these articles, and the sycophants around him, I would lose his friendship.
In August 1986, while on a short visit to India while my University was on vacation, I notified the External Affairs Ministry that my friend from 1978 and President of Pakistan Gen.Zia ul Haq had invited me as his personal guest to Pakistan, and wanted to know if the Government wanted me to get anything clarified with Zia. To my surprise, I got a call from the PMO fixing time in Rajiv’s Parliament office to meet him.
When I met Rajiv, he was all smiles. He said jokingly “I heard you have run away to Harvard. How have you been?” Obviously either he had not read my articles or he thought nothing of it. He then proceeded to tell me about the help Zia was giving to Sikh militants, and urged me to take it up with him. He also asked his Minister, Natwar Singh to give me a detailed background on Indo-Pakistan relations. While I was leaving him, he said “Promise you will stay in touch?” I did.
With my contact re-established with him, it became very easy to become an even closer friend after I re-entered Parliament in 1988. By then Rajiv was in deep trouble on the Bofors issue. I had that time exposed V.P. Singh’s closest ally and a harsh Rajiv baiter, Ramakrishna Hegde, on the telephone tapping scandal and the NRI land fraud. Hedge had to resign. I had also become critical of V.P.Singh of his double games. Naturally, Rajiv felt happy, and more so when I discovered that the first negotiation with Bofors was actually conducted by none other than V.P.Singh as Finance Minister on June 10, 1985. Rajiv had known about this naturally but failed to use it because his “advisers” told him not to annoy V.P.Singh anymore. May be that V.P.Singh as Finance Minister had dossiers on these “advisers”, and to save their own neck, they sacrificed Rajiv’s interests. Rajiv was so simple that he accepted their suggestion on not exposing V.P.Singh.
In fact the principal culprits for the Bofors fiasco are V.P.Singh, Arun Nehru and Shiv Shankar. Two bureaucrats were equally responsible for trapping Rajiv Gandhi. Since I know this, no one in Parliament would to raise the Bofors issue when I was Law Minister, fearing that I might expose those who were trying to expose Rajiv Gandhi.
By the end of 1989, Rajiv Gandhi and I became very close friends. After he ceased to be PM, and moved to 10, Janpath, he invariably called me at 1 AM in the night and ask George his secretary to pick me up to come to 10, Janpath for some chocolates (which he loved) and tea. By March 1990, we began foreseeing the downfall of the V.P.Singh government, and carried out exercises on who could form a new government. It was I who suggested that if his 220 MPs could combine with 60 MPs split from Janatha Dal by enticing Chandrasekhar, we could form a new government.
On this we began working from April 1990. Rajiv Gandhi was superb in storing and reviewing information on his personal computer. Practically every day we met from April till November 1990 when Chandrasekhar was made PM. And it was always between 1 AM and 4 AM.
By September it was clear that such a government could be formed. It is then Rajiv Gandhi made a surprising proposal. He said one night “Swamy, I am really not comfortable with Chandrasekhar. Why don’t you instead become the PM? I can work with you easily?” At first I was completely taken aback. I then said to him that all the 60 MPs of Janatha Dal had already been told that . Rajiv said since Congress was the largest party it could suggest anyone as PM to the President. I said I would think about it, and then forgot about it because of the fear that the whole proposal of the new government formation would collapse. But two weeks later, Rajiv repeated this to me in presence of T.N.Seshan. Seshan as usual began playing double games which I came to know later. He encouraged me to make a bid for it, at the same time he spoke to Rajiv against the idea, and then going to Chandrasekhar and telling him how he had sabotaged this idea of making me PM.
But by October middle, it became clear to me that it was too late in the day for a new proposal (to make me PM). Further, Advani’s Ratha Yathra was causing a crisis, and events were moving fast. So when I met Rajiv I told him it is too late now. He accepted my view, but correctly added, “But I don’t think I can work with Chandrasekhar for long”. He was prophetic because even I could not prevent the Chandrasekhar – Rajiv quarrel within one month of the government formation.
But for the few months that Chandrasekhar was PM, I kept meeting Rajiv to see that his wishes and suggestions were implemented. That is why when Chandrasekhar resigned; Rajiv Gandhi called me to suggest that I join the Congress Party. He even convened a lunch meeting at the residence of a Tamilnadu MP to announce my joining. But the sycophantic behaviour of some Congress men in that lunch put me off. I declined to join then, but I told Rajiv Gandhi at the Lunch that if after the elections he still wanted me to join, I would. But fate willed otherwise. He was assassinated in Sri Perumpudhur on May 21, 1991.
In my view, Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister did many great things. He first introduced the idea of economic reforms. He doubled our defence expenditure, and but for the Bofors scandal, he would have made us a mighty military power. He sent Indian troops for combat to Sri Lanka and Maladives and he showed Nepal its place. He promoted our culture by getting Doordarshan to show Ramayana serial. He also raised our national pride by coining the slogan “Mere Bharat Mahan” and illustrating that on TV through examples to inspire the youngsters.
But he was inexperienced and made many mistakes. His tenure in the opposition had however rounded his personality. Therefore, had he lived and become Prime Minister again he would have become the greatest Prime Minister of India of the 20th Century.
The assassins not only robbed the nation of a leader who could have made for the country a glorious entry into the 21st century, but also robbed me of a very good friend.
My experience with JayaPrakash Narayan
I met JP first in USA in 1968, when he came on a tour sponsored by an American organization – the Quakers. I was then a Professor of Economics at Harvard University, and had already made a name in the field having collaborated in research with two of the most famous Nobel Prize Winners, Paul Samuelson of MIT and Simon Kuznets of Harvard. In fact both of these Nobel Laureates had said that I too would get some someday the Nobel Prize if I continued to work on my theory of Index numbers, for which I had already achieved fame. But it was that fateful meeting with JP that changed my life and my profession from teaching to politics. I have never regretted for a moment that decision because of the way JP convinced me to make the sacrifice, during his three days stay with me. I have been filled with a sense of mission since then which has focussed my attention in achieving my political goals. Because of this, I am never discouraged by defeat or delay, nor even much delighted by victory. And again because of this sense of mission acquired from JP, I never give up any fight nor been afraid of consequences. It is thanks to the combination of JP’s political advice, and spiritual blessings of the divine Parmacharya, that I am as tough today as I am never afraid to stand alone, and speak as I feel.
It was sometime in April 1968 that the Harvard University Marshal’s office, which deals with visitors to the campus, telephoned me at my office at the Economics Department. The lady on the phone in a typical American slang said: “There is a guy from India called Mr.J.P.Narayan who is here and wants to meet you as well as the University’s Faculty.” I had as a child in 1940s heard of a leader called ‘JP’ and wondered if this was the same person. I asked the lady to put him on. When he came on the line, I simply asked “Are you the freedom fighter JP?” JP’s voice choked with emotion and said “Oh I am so happy that the younger generation (I was 28 years old then) has heard of me!” I then asked JP to hand back the phone to the Marshal’s office lady. When she came on the line, I instructed her to put JP up at the University’s Faculty Club, and that I would right away go to see him.
Those days I was fired by nationalist ideas such as that could do without foreign aid, that we could afford to build the atom bomb, and that the Aryan – Dravidian theory is a British concoction to divide India. In the 1960s these ideas were considered radical and extreme. So because of this nationalistic fervour, I used to wear “close coat”, modern Indian dress, unlike other Indians who wore tie and shirt. The Americans to their credit never commented on my dress since I was a good economics professor and researcher. It was the Indian’s inferiority complex that made them wear western clothes.
But when I went to see JP at the Faculty Club, I was taken aback to see him a three-piece Western suit and tie. His wife Prabhavati was with him, dressed in a sari and she saw the incongruity. She then admonished JP for wearing western clothes and told me that I had put two Gandhiji’s followers to shame. But JP with his famous sweet smile said “It looks like I have found a new friend”, and simply went back to his room, changed into an Indian Sherwani and Pyjamas. After that, all through the 3 day’s stay, he was in Indian dress.
I acted as a driver for JP during this visit, since he did not have a car. I arranged for him to lecture at Harvard on the current situation in politics in India. Due to the fact, that my father was in the Congress party during the Freedom Struggle, and was associated with Satyamurthi and Kamaraj, I was aware of little facts which I overheard as a child in the drawing room of our house. One such fact which I knew impressed JP greatly. When at a lecture, he asked his audience, “What is the last wish of Mahatma Gandhi?” No one in the audience, consisting 300 Indian and American scholars could answer. Then JP looked at me, and I blurted out that (Gandhiji’s private secretary, Pyare Lal had recorded it as the “Last Will and Testament”), Gandhiji wanted the Congress Party to wound up. He complimented me for keeping such close touch with the history of Freedom struggle despite living abroad for so long.
After the meeting was over, JP asked me to see him at the Faculty Club for dinner. On that occasion, he began urging me to return to India, and join his Sarvodaya movement. He told me how he too, as well as Dr.Ambedkar, had received American education and degrees, but they had sacrificed for the country. He told me about Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel and Subash Bose who gave up their careers for public service. But he urged me not to enter politics, but instead join him in Sarvodaya.
A year later in 1969 I resigned my professorship at Harvard and came to India. After meeting JP in Delhi, I left for Batlagundu in Madurai district to join the Sarvodaya movement, or at least try it for few months. At that time, JP was almost a forgotten person by people of India. I remember going to receive him at the New Delhi Railway station after my return to India. JP was coming to Delhi from Patna by train. At the railway station, except for his Secretary, there was no one else to receive him except me. None recognized JP in the platform after he disembarked from the train.
I left for Batlagundu, Madurai in October 1969 after having lived in comfort in the USA for more than seven years. While life in Sarvodaya was hard, the Sarvodaya leaders in Batlagundu tried to make my life interesting. But what I found was while the people in the villages respected Sarvodaya leaders for their sacrifice, they did not take them seriously. Meantime during my stay, I read Gandhiji’s work in the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Museum in Madurai city which I often visited to reduce the boredom of living in a village. Gandhiji had clearly advocated in his writing the combining of politics with constructive social work to enthuse the people. But Sarvodaya was purely social work with no politics. Indian society was purely social work with no politics. Indian society, it seemed to me, was not ready to de-politicize anything.
So I wrote to JP after a few months that I could not fit into Sarvodaya as I did not believe that social work without political clout had a future in India. And hence I left Batlagundu for Delhi in early 1970 to become a Professor of Economics at the IIT, Delhi.
JP was very upset with my letter. I little realized that JP had come to the opposite conclusion in 1953 after rejecting Jawaharlal Nehru’s offer of making him the Deputy Prime Minister. JP’s mission from 1953 was to liquidate politics. He had advocated party less democracy and panchayati raj based on non-political Sarvodaya. My letter was thus in effect saying that JP had wasted his life since 1953, and JP was satisfied in feeling hurt.
JP wrote me a stiff and cold letter in reply, saying that he was disappointed with me. He did not reply to any of my letters thereafter. But in July 1972, 2 1/2 years later I received a telegram from JP. He was recuperating from a heart attack at Tipponagondahalli near Bangalore. In the telegram, he invited me to join a small get together of his friends to discuss “an important matter”.
So I went to Tipponagondahalli to see JP. There about 15 top Sarvodaya leaders were camping. We all stayed together and discussed many issues. In one session, JP posed a question. He asked: If Indira Gandhi imposes military rule, what should be his role? Or what can he do to stop it?
While all Sarvodaya leaders advocated fasting or writing letters or something passive. I was the only one to suggest to every one’s shock, that JP had committed a mistake in giving up politics, and that he should correct for it by entering it now. Every Sarvodaya leader in the meeting condemned me for saying this, and exhibiting my immaturity. But to everyone’s surprise, JP in his concluding speech agreed with me that for stopping the
dictatorship of Indira Gandhi, he had to re-enter politics. He said emotionally; “Dr.Swamy is courageous. He is not afraid of speaking the hurtful truth. I agree with him. At the appropriate date. I have decided to enter the political arena”. Thus I can truly say that the germ of the idea to oppose the coming Emergency and create the Janata Party was planted in JP’s mind by me.
By 1974, JP was fully into the political movement to oppose Mrs.Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian rule which he was certain would come in the form of military rule. Throughout 1974-75, JP was never in Delhi without giving me a telephone call and asking me to meet him. He made me a member of the national coordination committee of political parties, even though I was a junior in politics. The first meeting of Kamaraj with JP was fixed by me. This was in November 1974 and all the papers had the photograph of the three of us.
On the morning of June 25, 1975 ( the day before Mrs. Gandhi declared ‘Emergency’) , I got an urgent call from a political leader who said that for the crucial evening rally for that day in Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds, JP and Morarji Desai were locked in a quarrel, and no one had the guts to talk to either. Morarji Desai was in high spirits because his fast for Gujarat Assembly polls had led to a formation of Janata Front Government in the elections. Morarji was a strong disciplinarian and disapproved of JP’s unpunctual schedules. This quarrel was because the public meeting had been announced for 5 PM that evening. It was a hot summer, so JP said he would arrive at the meeting at 8 PM. Morarji quarrelled on that, saying that if meeting was for 5 PM, JP and he must both turn up on time. “Why are we spoiling people’s habits that we don’t mean what to say?” So it was left to me to persuade JP to come on time, since all political leaders knew the soft corner JP had for me. This situation helped me to get properly introduced to Morarji. But becoming friends with Morarji was not easy, since he thought I was too young (I was 35 years old then) to mingle with “seniors”. He kept telling me “You are Americanized. You are too frank for Indian political culture”. This, coming from Morarji who had been criticized for being too blunt, surprised me!
But I finally made the two giants agree to a joint appearance at 6 PM at that historic Ramlila Grounds rally, which was later cited by Mrs.Indira Gandhi as the reason for proclaiming the Emergency (JP, it was alleged had, at that rally, incited the Army to rebel against Indira Gandhi. As an eyewitness I can say this was a lie). Morarji Desai was so impressed with my patience in handling the issue that he asked me to sit with him in the rally. In his autobiography (Volume III), Morarji has reproduced a photograph of the rally, with me sitting with JP and him.
That night I had a dinner with JP alone. He was very emotional. He said military rule was certain, and I must fight. “You have necessary guts and friends all over the world. So you must organize the fight abroad”. I really thought that JP was being unnecessarily alarmist. But he was right. Next morning a policeman, who shall remain anonymous, called me at 4.30 am. He said JP has been arrested and unless I left my residence, I too will be.
Remembering JP’s previous night advice, I went underground. All through the Emergency, despite being declared a “proclaimed offender”, and having the highest reward for my arrest, Indira Gandhi’s police could not catch me. That is another story I will write about later. But I opposed the Emergency tooth and nail as JP had wanted me to do.
When I next met JP, it was in 1977 after the Emergency. He has been transformed from zero of 1970 to national hero. He was very pleased to see me, but I could not get anytime to talk with him as before. The crowds were everywhere. Old socialists reclaimed him, and hailed him as theirs. Even RSS almost made him their leader. Till 1979, I met JP off and on. In our brief meetings, he sentimentally referred to our 1972 Tipponagondahalli meeting. He also complained about Morarji to me. I tried to patch up, but the forces pulling them apart were much stronger. JP had specially called me to the Gandhi Peace Foundation, when he and Acharya Kriplani selected Morarji Desai and not Jagjivan Ram. JP made me sit with him throughout as leader after leader came in to give their view. I got a real political training in witnessing this event. JP was very clear that Morarji Desai should be PM for the first 2 1/2 years. But everyone knew Morarji was too strong headed to accept any conditions. So ultimately JP relented, Morarji was made PM.
My last talk of great substance with JP was in 1979 in Patna when the Janata had broken up. He was literally in tears and in bad health. “My beautiful garden of flowers (Janata) has been made a desert”, he cried. He then put his hand on my arm, and said “But you must mobilize the younger generation to keep the Janata flag flying. “Promise me”. I have kept the promise. When the BJP was formed by further splitting the Janata, I did not desert the Janata. When in 1984, Chandrasekhar in a fit of rage for opposing him in a Presidential contest expelled me from the party, I waited for an opportunity to make friends with him, and return to Janata. In 1989, when everyone including Chandrasekhar deserted the party to join Janata Dal, I stayed out with Deve Gowda (later in 1992 Gowda too deserted the Janata for the Dal). I have stuck with Janata because of the promise I had made to JP, and tried to rebuild it. But JP had formed the Janata for an ideology of decentralization. Today JP’s victory is that his ideology is accepted by everybody.
Even though his baby, the Janata Party, has not regained the 1977 glory, the ideology has triumphed. His arch opponent, the Congress Party has lock, stock and barrel accepted JP’s ideology. That is his victory. For this we should thank Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao.
When I look at JP’s personality now, what strikes me in his simplicity and straight forwardness That is what made him great. If Gandhiji symbolizes Freedom, JP symbolizes that spirit of democracy. It was an honour to have known him so closely.
My meetings with great personalities – Indira Gandhi
I entered politics in a formal way in 1974. In these 22 1/2 years of public life, I have personally been in close touch with many great names of contemporary history. Today’s younger generation know of these names, but have little idea or depth of knowledge of their contribution to our or world history. So I thought I will write a series of short articles about these personalities and about what made them great. The names that every household has heard of are such as Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, etc.. I shall write about each of these leaders by turn. Today I will write about Mrs.Indira Gandhi, who was Prime Minister of India for 16 years. I first met Mrs.Gandhi at Brandeis University in the USA in the year 1965, some months before the Indo – Pak war of 1965. She was then Information and Broadcasting Minister in Lal Bahadur Shastri’s cabinet, and was visiting the University to speak to an audience about Jawaharlal Nehru who had died the previous year. In 1962, I had arrived as a Ph.D (Economics) student at the world famous Harvard University, and within six months I had broken the record by qualifying in the Ph.D general examination in the shortest time. Soon I joined the Harvard University as a professor, and my scholastic record became famous. Brandeis University, to where Mrs.Indira Gandhi had come was only 32 kilometres away. So she asked my very good friend Ashok Kalelkar studying at nearby MIT, whom Mrs.Gandhi knew because he was the grandson of Kakasaheb Kalelkar, noted freedom fighter of Gujarat, to bring me to meet her at the Brandeis University guest house where she was staying. Our meeting lasted half hour. I had to leave for attending to my lectures; otherwise I would have stayed longer. Mrs.Gandhi liked the company of highly qualified persons who had distinguished themselves. At that time, I was already a 25 year old Harvard Professor, something to be proud of. The topics Mrs.Gandhi talked with me were only two. One was how to make Rajiv and Sanjay, both in Britain to study harder. She asked me how to motivate them. It was quite clear that she was disturbed by her two sons’ non-serious attitude to studies, and wanted tips from a Professor. The other topic Mrs.Gandhi talked to me was how people, whom Nehru had helped so much, had so quickly forgotten him. She said bitterly to me “you know, we Indians are by character ungrateful people. That is why no one wants to help anyone else”. This remark I never forgot. Much of Mrs. Gandhi’s actions later as Prime Minister, such as declaring Emergency came from this bitter thought of her’s. I next saw Mrs. Gandhi as Prime Minister in 1968, aboard an Air India flight to New York. In those days, Prime Ministers did not charter flights but travelled First Class as a passenger. I was still a Harvard Professor then, and when she saw me boarding the flight at Rome, she recognized me. We sat side by side till Frankfurt, which was about one hour. I talked to her about why India should make the atom bomb. She heard me patiently till I said to her “If you don’t prepare India’s defence against China, you will be repeating the mistakes of your father”. At that she flared up, and criticized me for disparaging Nehru without knowing the circumstances. She was particularly harsh on Morarji Desai, who she said as Nehru’s Finance Minister, refused to allot enough money for defence. Interestingly at that time, Desai was Mrs.Gandhi’s Finance Minister too! But I did not argue. However when she returned to India, I was happy that she began opposing the NPT nuclear treaty. In 1970, I resigned my Harvard Professorship and returned to India. Mrs. Gandhi by then had split the Congress and with the help of the communists had become ultra-socialist. I was against state control and monopoly. So I became her critic, soon entered Parliament to oppose her tooth and nail. During Emergency, I had escaped to America to campaign against the human rights violations. Today it may be surprising but it is worth recounting that when Mrs. Gandhi tried to force me to return by asking the US Government to cancel my visa, and failed, she had asked Sri.Chandraswami to go to USA and use his influence with President Jimmy Carter who he knew personally. Chandraswami did go, but my influence through my Harvard colleagues was stronger, so he too failed. He became my friend later in 1988, when he fell foul of Rajiv Gandhi on Bofors. After Mrs. Gandhi returned to power in 1980, she became friendly with me again. We used to meet often in her parliament office or corridors for a brief chat. She became especially warm towards me after I helped to get the Chinese government to deny Assam militants sanctuary in Tibet. I also got the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping whom I met in 1981 to agree to reopening the holy Kailash and Mansarovar area to Hindu pilgrims. She was very much impressed with these achievements and suggested to me to be friendly to Rajiv Gandhi, who was reluctant to enter politics. She had obviously also talked to Rajiv, because he and I became friends very quickly thereafter. My last meeting with Mrs.Gandhi was in August 1984. She and I had many verbal duels in LokSabha over her Punjab policy. In fact, Chandrasekhar and I were the only two MPs who had condemned Operation Bluestar. I had even met her in April 1984, and had warned her of the dangers of military action. When she saw me in August 1984, she gave me a motherly squeeze of my fore arm and said “Swamy, you were right. The Sikhs will never forgive me.” She also enquired me what my plans were for the Lok Sabha elections, because Chandrashekar as Janata Party President had expelled me from the party for challenging him for the post in the party elections. I understood her hint. I said to her: “I will come and discuss with you after the Parliament session is over”. I never saw her again. She was assassinated on October 31, 1984. My recollection of her today is that she was a very nationalistic person, but insecure about betrayal. She had a vision to make India great, but lacked the political associates to carry it out.
The LTTE shadow over India published in The Hindu dt 19.09.05
The LTTE shadow over India
THE ASSASSINATION of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has exposed the fault lines in India’s policy towards the internationally proclaimed terrorist organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. On the one side, the Indian Government has banned the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. On the other side, despite the continuing assassinations, India does not oppose the “peace dialogue” of the Sri Lankan Government with the LTTE, talks that could end up legitimising the terrorist outfit and making the ban meaningless.
Although the LTTE has officially denied any involvement in the Kadirgamar assassination, such a denial cannot be taken seriously. The organisation has always denied its involvement in terrorist activity — murder, arson, extortion, drug trafficking, and so on. The LTTE denied any part in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. However, the Supreme Court of India, in its 400-page judgment delivered on May 12, 1999, laid bare what a huge lie that was.
That security failed to secure the neighbourhood of the Foreign Minister’s residence despite his being high on the LTTE’s hit list is clear evidence that the Sri Lankan authorities are suffering from the `Stockholm Syndrome’ of capitulating to tormentors. They are wholly incompetent to deal with the murderous LTTE. The Sri Lankan President’s first reaction was that the island government, despite the assassination of the Foreign Minister at his residence in the capital, would not suspend the so-called peace talks with the killers — a further indication of the tragic syndrome at work. Sri Lanka seems to have lost its collective nerve to combat and confront terror.
India needs to consider what to do to remove the fault line in its policy towards the LTTE — and thus secure its geographical neighbourhood. The LTTE, which could be legitimised through the agency of an inane Norwegian facilitation, is a menace not only to Sri Lanka’s integrity, but also to India’s national security. The Tigers have links with India’s terrorists such as the Maoists and ULFA, and with the ISI of Pakistan and even Al Qaeda and with separatist Indian political parties. Even if the Congress shows scant interest in bringing Velupillai Prabakaran to justice, patriotic Indians cannot forget either Rajiv’s martyrdom or the LTTE’s unforgivable perfidy. India has to fix Prabakaran some day by bringing him to justice for his lack of respect for India’s sovereignty.
India has a national security imperative and an unavoidable moral obligation to get involved to help free the island nation of the LTTE’s treacherous terror. I thus see four specific reasons behind this obligation:
First, India trained the LTTE in the 1980s. The country has to atone for this by actions to disband and unravel the Frankenstein monster it helped create. Secondly, despite enjoying India’s hospitality for years, and after welcoming the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement in 1987, the Tigers betrayed India by killing more than 1000 personnel of the Indian Peace Keeping Force sent to the island to enforce the accord. The betrayal and loss of lives of our valiant jawans have to be avenged to keep up the morale of the Indian armed forces.
Thirdly, as the Home Ministry’s 2005 Annual Report to Parliament points out, the LTTE has been targeting pro-Indian Sri Lanka politicians and assassinating them. The latest is of course Kadirgamar. For India, the most heinous act is the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. A trial court has declared Accused No.1 Prabakaran a proclaimed offender, and the Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice for apprehending him. India is thus obligated to search for Prabakaran — and to immobilise the LTTE and deter it from engaging in any murderous and terrorist activities against India and Indian interests.
Fourthly, the LTTE interferes in the internal affairs of India by financing certain Indian politicians, providing training to Indian militant and extremist organisations, and extending insurgency infrastructure to bandits such as Veerappan. It also launders black money from India through its illegal Eelam Bank in the Jaffna area. India cannot allow such erosion of law and order within its own borders.
To discharge these obligations, what must India do? Obviously, it cannot depend on Sri Lankan governments of today or the near future to bring the LTTE to book. Sri Lankan political parties are either capitulationist or chauvinist. The recent pact of Mahinda Rajapakse, Prime Minister and presidential candidate, with the JVP that if voted to power he will defend the present failed unitary constitution is a retrograde step. This shows the Tamils are squeezed between the devil and the deep sea.
India’s first move should be to initiate action to revive the hunt for those of the LTTE who need to be prosecuted under Indian law. This includes Prabakaran and his intelligence chief Pottu Amman — and whoever has tried to help them to escape the arm of India’s law enforcement.
In 1998, Parliament set up under the Central Bureau of Investigation a multidisciplinary monitoring agency (MDMA) to hunt for these wanted persons. But the National Democratic Alliance Government waffled and failed to pursue the matter. The present United Progressive Alliance Government has done even worse. When President Chandrika Kumaratunga came to India recently, India went along with the proposal to take on board the LTTE as a party in the tsunami relief work and have its share in the $ 3 billion international aid commitment.
The time has come to energise the MDMA, to get it moving to apprehend the wanted criminals, in unconventional ways if necessary. Further, India must assist and nurture the democratic elements in the Sri Lankan Tamil population.
These include those who have demonstrated the capacity to stand up to the LTTE (such as S.C. Chandrahasan, and the breakaway LTTE group that opposed Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, namely, the Karuna group), to form a non-violent and democratic alternative to work out with the Sinhala majority a federal constitution that would serve the purpose of power sharing. Thirdly, LTTE sleeper cells in Indian cities need to be identified and put out of action. At present, terrorists of various hues are active in several States and Union Territories.
One day, these terrorists and the LTTE sleeper cells may coordinate and cause a huge bloody incident. India must guard against such contingencies through pre-emptive action.
The time has come for India effectively to contribute to the war against terrorism and in the promotion of democracy by targeting the LTTE sincerely and effectively in the larger interest of security and national integrity.
(The writer is a former Union Law Minister.)
Brief Report of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha Conference
FUNDAMENTALS OF HINDU UNITY (Part-I)
HINDU DHARMA ACHARYA SABHA
Second Meeting, October 16, 17, 18, 2005
in Mumbai, Maharashtra
Text of the Speech
Dr.SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY Ph.D(Harvard)
Chairman, Centre for National Renaissance, New Delhi
Fmr.Union Cabinet Minister for Commerce, Law & Justice
A-77 Nizamuddin East
Tel: 91 98101 94279
Address of Dr.Subramanian Swamy, Chairman, Center for National Renaissance, New Delhi to Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha Second Meeting at Mumbai on October 18, 2005.
FUNDAMENTALS OF HINDU UNITY
THE CONCEPT OF HINDUSTAN
His Holiness Dayananda Saraswati, and Heads of Mutts and Mandaleshwars and revered Acharyas. I thank His Holiness for the opportunity to address you all today.
Hinduism, known as sanatana dharma is uniquely world’s unbroken, continuous and longest in time, and is a religion constituted by its theology, cultural ethos, and civilizational history. India’s Hindu society is founded on the content of these three constituents. Hindustan, as India is known abroad even today[e.g., Yindu guo in Chinese, Hind in Arabic], as a concept is defined as a nation of Hindus and those others in the nation who accept that their ancestors are Hindus and revere that legacy. Parsis, Jews, Syrian Christians come in a special category of Hindustanis, those who were welcomed by Hindus since they came to Hindustan seeking refuge from persecution in their own lands abroad, and who willingly accepted to abide by, and adopt certain cultural customs of Hindus. To the credit of Parsis, they have never demanded any special privileges as a minority. They had even rejected privileges and quotas offered to them by the British imperialists saying that they were comfortable with Hindus.
Over the last two millenniums, Hindu religion has been subjected to threats several times from other religious groups, but these threats have been met, the challenges faced and overcome.
Well before the birth of Christianity and Islam, Hindu religion had been intellectually dethroned by Hinayana Buddhism. But Adi Sankaracharya rethroned Hinduism through his famous shastrathas[religious debate] and caused a renaissance in Buddhism itself, which then came to be known as Mahayana Buddhism, conceptually in complete harmony with, if not indistinguishable from, Hindu theology. In south India, the azhwars and nayanmars also through shastrathas repositioned Hinduism after de-throning Jainism and Buddhism. Since then the Hindu dharmacharyas have always been looked up to when Hindu society faced a threat or crisis, for guidance to meet the challenge to the Hindu religion. Today, we again need the revered acharyas to show us the way. Hence this Sabha is of vital importance for the future of the nation.
Hindu ethos provided for sanctuary and home to those of other faiths fleeing from their countries due to religious persecution. As I stated earlier, Parsis, Jews and Syrian Christians are among those religious groups who had sought refuge in India, and survived because the Hindus looked after them. These three religious communities have had and have today a disproportionate share in power and wealth in Indian society, but Hindus have no resentment about it. These minorities had come to India in search of peace and found safe haven in the midst of Hindu society. Parsis migrated elsewhere in the world too, but disappeared as a community in those countries. Jews have openly acknowledged that India as the only country where they were not persecuted. Syrian Christians too are today completely integrated into India. Even early Arab Muslim travelers who came peacefully to settle in Kerala were taken into Hindu families, and hence called Mapillai[meaning son-inlaw-- Moplah in English]. That is the glorious Hindu tradition, the ethos of compassion and co-option that is unparalleled in world history.
However, militant Islam and later crusading Christianity came to India, and aggressively challenged Hinduism. They seized power in sequence and established their own state in India. But despite state patronage to the ensuing onslaught, plunder and victimisation, those of Hindu faith could not be decimated, and Hinduism remained the theology of the vast Indian majority.
Defiant Hindus suffered persecution and economic deprivation during Islamic and Christian reigns, such as through differential taxation [e.g., jezia and zamindari land revenue appropriation] and plain brutality, but Hindus by and large refused to capitulate and convert. Even after almost a thousand years of such targeting by Muslims and Christian rulers, undivided India in 1947 was more than 75% Hindu. This was partly because of the victorious Vijayanagaram, the Sikh reign, and Mahratta kingdoms, and later the Freedom Movement, each inspired by sanyasis such Sringeri Shankaracharya, Swami Ramdas, Guru Nanak, Swami Vivekanada and Sri Aurobindo, who by their preaching about the Hindu identity ensured that the flame of Hindu defiance never dimmed. It was also due to individual defiance of Hindus such as of Rana Pratap, Rani Jhansi, Rani Bennur, Kattaboman and Netaji Subhas Bose. These icons are admired not because they led us to victory[ in fact they were defeated or killed], or had found out a safe compromise [they did not], but because of their courage of conviction in the face of huge odds not to submit to tyranny. That courageous defiance is also is part of Hindus’ glorious legacy. But those who capitulated like Raja Man Singh or Jai Chand or Pudukottai Raja in order to live in pomp and grandeur are despised today by the people.
In 1947, temporal power was defacto restored to the Hindu majority. But the Indian state formally adopted secularism, which concept however was never properly defined or debated. For example, it left vague what an Indian’s connection was with the nation’s Hindu past and legacy. In the name of secularism, it was taboo for a public servant even to break a coconut or light a oil lamp to inaugurate an official function on the ground that religious symbols must not invade public life. Such orthodoxy was promoted by Jawarharlal Nehru and his Leftist advisers. But then government took over supervision of temples, legislated on Hindu personal laws, and regulated religious festivals, but kept aloof from the Muslim and Christian religious affairs. The secularism principle was foisted on the Hindu masses without making him understand why they had to abide by legislation but not Muslims and Christians.
As a result, the renaissance that had begun in the late nineteenth century to redefine the Hindu identity [in contemporary terms and norms valid in a pluralistic society], was aborted by the confusion thus created in Hindu minds by a vaguely understood concept of secularism.
Electoral politics further confounded the issues arising out of secularism, and hence the Indian society became gradually and increasingly fragmented in outlook and of confused perspective. Hindu society became divided by caste that became increasingly mutually antagonistic. Attempts were made through falsification in history texts adopted for curriculum in the education system to disconnect and disinherit the contemporary Indian from the past glory of Hindu India. The intrinsic Hindu unity was sought to be undone by legitimizing such bogus concepts as Aryan-Dravidian racial divide theory, or that India as a concept never existed till the British imperialists put it together, or that Indians have always been ruled by invaders from abroad. There is no such word as Aryan in Sanskrit literature [closest is ‘arya’ meaning honourable person, and ndot community] or Dravidian [Adi Sankara had in his shasthrath with Mandana Mishra at Varanasi, called himself as a ‘dravida shishu’ that is a child of where three oceans meet, i.e., south India]. The theory was deliberate distortion by British imperialists and propagated by their Indian witting and unwitting mental slaves. Incidentally, the Aryan-Dravidian myth has now been exploded by modern research on DNA of Indians and Europeans conducted by Professor C.Panse of Newton, Mass. USA and other scholars. In light of such new research, the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC] service in it’s October 6, 2005 service completely debunked the Aryan—Dravidian race theory stating that: “Theory was not just wrong, it included unacceptably racist ideas” [www.bbc.co.uk, religion & ethics homepage, Thursday, 6/10/05].
Modern India has been sought to be portrayed by foreign interests through the educational curriculum as a discontinuity in history and as a new entity much as are today’s Greece, Egypt or Iraq. That curriculum is largely intact today. On the contrary efforts are afoot to bolster the disparagement of our past in the new dispensation today. A rudderless India, disconnected from her past has, as a consequence, become a fertile field for religious poachers and neo-imperialists from abroad who paint India as a mosaic of immigrants much like a crowd on a platform in a railway junction. That is, it is clandestinely propagated that India has belonged to those who forcibly occupied it. This is the theme around which the Islamic fundamentalists and fraud Christian crusaders are again at work, much as they were a thousand years ago, but of course in new dispensations, sophistication, and media forms. Thus the concept of intrinsic Hindu unity, and India’s Hindu foundation are dangerously under challenge by these forces. Tragically most Hindus today are not even cognizant of it.
The challenge today confronting Hindus is however much more difficult to meet than was earlier in history because the forces at work to erode and undermine Hindu faith, unlike before, are unseen, clandestine, pernicious, deceptive but most of all sophisticated and media-savvy. Tragically therefore, a much more educated and larger numbers of Hindus have been unwittingly co-opted in this sinister conspiracy directed by foreigners who have no love for India and who also see much as Lord Macauley saw in the nineteenth century, that the hoary Hindu foundation of India is a stumbling block for the furtherance of their nefarious perfidious game.
Adherence to Hinduism is also being sought to be diluted in the name of modernity and this dilution is made a norm of secularism. Religion, it is advocated, is personal. To be a good Hindu today is conceptually being reduced to just praying, piety, visiting temples, and celebrating religious festivals. The concept of a collective Hindu mindset is being ridiculed as chauvinist and retrograde, even fundamentalist.
The concept of a corporate Hindu unity and identity however is that of a collective mindset that identifies us with a motherland from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean and it’s glorious past, and the concomitant resolve of it’s representative leadership defined as “chakravartin” earlier by Chanakya, to defend that vision. It is this concept and resolve that is being discarded or is just evaporating under the onslaught of the Nehruvian secularists.
However pious a Hindu becomes, however prosperous Hindu temples become from doting devotees’ offerings, when the nation is in danger it is this collective mindset of the people that matters, and not the piety of the individual in that collective.
Hindu society today lacking a cohesive corporate identity, is thus in the process of becoming fragmented, and hence increasingly in disarray. This fission process is on simultaneously with the reality of millions of Hindus who go to temples regularly or walk to Sabarimalai or participate in Kumbh Mela. This is not what I mean when I speak of Hindu unity to this august gathering today.
I am instead referring to the Hindu consciousness which encompasses the willingness and determination to collectively defend the faith from the erosion that is being induced by the disconnect with our glorious past. What Swami Vivekananda, Bankim Chatterjee, Sri Aurobindo, and Subramania Bharati had achieved by raising Hindu consciousness to that end, has now been depleted and dissipated over the last six decades.
Even the patriotic and anguished writings of Dr.Ambedkar, and his oration in the Constituent Assembly for a strong united country have been vulgarized to advocate Hindu society’s disintegration. In his scholarly paper presented in a 1916 Columbia University seminar [and published in Indian Antiquary, vol. XLI, May 1917 p.81-95] Dr. Ambedkar stated: “It is the unity of culture that is the basis of homogeneity. Taking this for granted, I venture to say that there is no country that can rival the Indian Peninsula with respect to the unity of it’s culture. It has not only a geographic unity, but it has over and above all a deeper and much more fundamental unity—the indubitable cultural unity that covers the land from end to end”. Ambedkar wrote several such brilliant books, but alas, Nehru and his cohorts so thoroughly frustrated him that in the end bitterness drove him to Buddhism.
Thus, if this degeneration and disconnect are not rectified and repaired by a resolve to unite Hindustanis [Hindus and those others who proudly identify with India’s Hindu past], the Hindu civilization may go into a tail spin and ultimately fade away like other civilizations have for much the same reason.
Of course, this sorry state has come about as a cumulative effect of a thousand years past of Islamic invasions, occupation and Imperialist colonization. But we failed to rectify the damage after the Hindus overwhelmingly got defacto power in 1947. For this transfer of power, we sacrificed one quarter of Akhand Hindustan territory to settle those Muslims who could not bear to live or adjust with the Hindu majority.
That is, by a failure to usher a renaissance after 1947 India lost her opportunity to cleanse the accumulated dirt and unwanted baggage of the past. The nation missed a chance to demolish the birth-based caste theory as Ambedkar had wanted to do. The battering that the concept of Hindu unity and Indian identity has taken at the hands of Nehruvian secularists since 1947 has led to the present social malaise. Thus, even though Hindus are above 80 percent of the population in India, they have not been able to understand their roots in, and obligations to, the nation in a pluralistic Hindustani democracy.
Today the sacrilege of Hindu concepts and hoary institutions, is being carried out not with the crude brutality of a Ghazni or Ghori, but with the sophistication of the constitutional instruments of law. The desecration of Hindu icons, for example the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, is being made to look legal, thereby completely confusing the Hindu people, and thus making them unable to recognize the danger, or to realize that Hindus have to unite to defend against the threats to their legacy. We Hindus are under siege today, and we do not know it!! That is, what is truly alarming is that Hindu society could be dissembled today without much protest since we have been lulled or lost the capacity to think collectively as Hindus.
To resist this siege we first need Hindu unity. Numbers [of those claiming to be adherents to Hinduism] do not matter in today’s information society. It is the durability and clarity of the Hindu mindset of those who unite that matters in the forging of an instrument to fight this creeping danger.
For example, we had a near disaster in Ayodhya recently. Pakistan–trained foreign terrorists slipped into India and traveled to Ayodhya to blow up the Ram Mandir. Their attempt was foiled by courageous elements of the police. But did the representative government of 870 million Hindus of India react in a meaningful way, that is retaliate to deter future such attacks? Did anyone raise it in Parliament and demand deterrent retaliation? On the contrary, the Prime Minister assured Pakistan that the peace talks will not be affected by such acts. But what retaliation was there to be for the sponsors of those terrorists who dared to think about blowing Sri Ram’s birth place?
Hindus are thus being today systematically prepared for psychological enslavement and conceptual capture. Indians are being subtly brain-washed. Hindus are being lulled, while Muslims and Christians are being subject to relentless propaganda that they are different, and are citizens of India as would be a shareholder in a company run for profit.
We Hindus cannot fight this unless we first identify what we have to fight. We cannot effectively respond unless we understand the nature and complexity of the challenge. What makes the task of defending Hinduism much more difficult today is that the oppressors are not obvious maraudring entities as were Ghazni, Ghori, or Clive. The means of communication and the supply of funds in the hands of our enemies are multiples of that available in the past, for camouflaging their evil purposes.