H C Singh

Working of Congress (UPA) Govt. (2004 – 2009)

During last 4 – 5 years lakhs of employees of hundreds of companies have been laid off. What the UPA Government has done for these companies and their employees many of whom have been laid off and many others have been working on reduced pay. It is only big companies like Indian Air lines prestige.

Besides thousands of small companies, hundreds have closed down and the remaining are trying their best to survive with reduced number of employees. Art and crafts are suffering the most because these are unorganized and there are no foreign purchases.

Here are few examples of dying crafts. Wooden to making, carpet manufacturing and silk weaving. There are other crafts too, shawl making embroidery on clothes which were made in demand in India and abroad.

Dying Crafts

An award winner toy maker, R Acharia Lembhiah who is 95 years old and had been making wooden tags throughout his life. When 60 years ago lost NIZAM of Hyderabad sat on the throne, the tag maker had created a “huge banana with gold colored petals”, the petals unfolded and showered on Nizam. Nizam was ecstatic and showered patronage on the toy maker. But today the same toy maker and others are without work as no one is purchasing their wooden tags which are fetched Rs 15 to 5000 and some specially commissioned once even huge amount of Rs 55000 which today would be about Rs 7 to 10 lakh.

Ashok Das has suggested following there steps to be taken by the government for the revival of such a splendid art:
(1) Lifting the ban on the raw material, Puniki wood . (2) Pension to all eligible artists after 60 years
(3) Stipend for anyone willing to join the trade
(4) Providing funds for marketing
(5) Insurance came for all artists.

Dr Manmohan Singh

India’s Prime Minister for second term, was born in 1932 in a small village in Jehlum Distt of West Punjab now in Pakistan. He comes from an ordinary family. In his own words Dr Manmohan Singh says: “I grew up in a small village with no electricity, no roads and no safe water and had to walk for miles to go to the nearest school.” After partition his family like lakhs of other Hindu Sikh families migrated to India. Manmohan Singh’s family settled in Amritsar. As he was very intelligent and studious, from the age of 15, young boy Manmohan spent whole heartedly all his time and energy to studies. Thus in 1954 his efforts brought fruit and honour not only to him but to his entire family as he got 1st class first in MA Economics and was awarded fellowship/scholarship of Cambridge University in England. There he did his PhD and became Dr Manmohan Singh.

After a couple of years he had arranged marriage with a school teacher Gursharan Kaur who has stood by him all through and also developed as an intelligent sober 1st lady accompanying the Prime Minister in all his visits abroad to meet Presidents and Prime Ministers of various countries like USA,UK and other, with dignity and grace befitting First Lady.

Dr. Manmohan Singh first taught in Delhi School of Economics and then went abroad to USA for assignment in World Bank etc till he was offered prestigious appointment as Governor Reserve Bank and thereafter Secretary to Govt of India in Finance Deptt and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission. It was Narsimha Rao who chose him as a modern economist in 1991 and appointed him as Finance Minister in his cabinet, because of his competence as an economist and being man of integrity and honesty. Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, with the support of Narsimaha Rao liberalised Indian economy. This was a great break from the past closed economy which was in due cause appreciated and hailed by all political parties and leaders. Thus Dr. Manmohan Singh became apostle of liberal economy and free trade.

After the fall of Narsimaha Rao and Congress and thereafter of BJP which ruled under able leadership of Shri Vajpayee for full term of of 5 years, in 2004 Sonia Gandhi who being from Gandhi-Nehru dynasty though Italian by birth, did not know much about constitution of India Indian polity. She could hardly speak a few words in English and Hindi that too from notes prepared and supplied by her coterie. She could not assume the responsibility of Prime Ministership though it was said she ‘sacrificed’ this high status. After lot of deliberations and discussions with other congress leaders, the choice of Prime Ministership felll on Dr Manmohan Singh because he was a renowned economist of world fame, man of highest integrity and honesty and in addition he was not a politician. He once stood for elections in Lok Sabha in 1999 from New Delhi Constituency but lost. Thereafter Manmohan Singh did not have courage to stand for Lok Sabha elections but remained contented with nomination from Assam to Rajya Sabha. He was leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha in 1999 and thereafter when Congress won the 2004 elections, he was the obvious choice for Prime Ministership. Thus Dr. Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister of India.

During the 1st term 2004 to 2009 he remained very cool and considerate. He was more concerned with signing nuclear deal with President Bush, though this nuclear deal has become controversial.

In a recent interview, Amartya Sen Nobel Laureate had all the praise for Manmohan, as he called him, both for his economic policy of liberalism as well as his courteous behavior with every one whether it is “George Bush or King of Bhutan”. It will interest everyone to quote Amartya Sen as under:
“I don’t think these policies have been neo-liberal. Had they been we would have done much worse in economic crises. As an old friend may I say that people seem to miss? He is immensely well behaved with absolutely everybody, people say things like “when I saw him with Bush he looked so happy and so supportive” . But you see any picture of Manmohan and he always looks friendly and supportive….. I would defy you to find a picture of Manmohan looking angrily at any one. I haven’t seen one in 54 years I have known him. Whether that is a lacuna in a politician…. But if there is a fault, it is a fault of generosity and courteousness.”

I don’t Think what glowing tribute Amartya Sen had paid to our Prime Minister, as an economist, as a courteous politician and as a superb smiling human being, Amartya Sen has paid to any other living politician or economist in India and even abroad.

Here I have my personal experience about Dr. Manmohan Singh’s regard for talent, hard work and born handicap of an ordinary individual. I had met Shri Mani Ram Sharma who, despite his handicap of deafness by birth passed IAS examination thrice but was rejected on madical grounds. Maniram himself told me “that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself called my file and on it ordered that I should be given class I job because of my talent and hard work. So I got a class I job in Communication Ministry for the last few months and am getting Rs. 30,000 PM and sending home to my old parents Rs. 10,000/- every month.” So this is our Prime Minister a splendid economist with sublime feelings for the poor, talented and needy.

During 2009 election campaign, L K Advani of BJP who thought and loped to be Prime Minister went out of the way to accuse Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he is the weakest Prime Minister, has no say in UPA Government and does what Sonia Gandhi says or wants. This was highest provocation. Manmohan Singh might have ignored Advani’s outburst but Sonia Gandhi goaded Prime Minister to give Advani befitting reply. This Prime Minister did. For the first time he spoke like a seasoned politician blaming Advani the Dy Prime Minister for the release of terrorist on the conditions dictated by them. Thereafter Manmohan Singh once again became his true self as stated by Amratya Sen, a symbol of generosity and courteousness.

While election campaign was in full force, 77 year old PM Manmohan Singh underwent heart surgery: it was the third one. But after only 10 days rest after surgery he started attending to the office work. 2009 General elections gave humiliating defeat to Advani and BJP and glorious victory to Congress and UPA. Manmohan Singh became PM for second term.

But there seems to be no rest or respite for courteous and generous Manmohan Singh. Sharamal Sheikh agreement with Zardari which mentions Baluchistan has raised havoc for Manmohan Singh and Congress Government BJP, in particular,was vociferous in condemning it as India’s submission to Pakistan without any reason as Baluchistan was just a province of Pakistan which like NWPP is in turmoil because of activities and sabotage by Baloch Taliban.

Now Pakistan alleges that Raw intelligence agency of India is helping with finances and arms in Afghanistan with the help of India’s Consulate in Kabul as well as India’s Consulate in Zahedan, Iran, close to Baluchistan. Pakistan’s allegation that India supports Baluchistan Liberation Army leader Brahandogh Bugti and says that it has given documentary evidence of Bugti’s meeting with Raw officials. There are many other allegations in the Pakistan dossier provided to India like Raw is running safehouses in Afghanistan for Baloch rebels with the help of Indian Consulate there.

Though PM and Sonia Gandhi are not apparently upset by strong condemnation of Sharmal Sheikh agreement by opposition more vigorously by BJP and even by a section of congressmen though there opposition is mute. But Manmohan Singh said, he had similar problem when he signed nuclear deal with USA. He went on to say that in 1991 he had dedicated himself to economic reforms saying “I was criticized by the Right, by the Left” he added “Fifteen years down who will today say that what I did then was wrong The Nation Stands Tall, proud fast growing”. In the same way Monmohan Singh defended the nuclear deal in Parliament, saying “we have achieved an agreement that is good for India and good for the world – The agreement with the United States will open new doors in capitals across the world”

In the case of Sharamal Sheikh agreement PM has this to say that despite opposition even from a number of congress numbers this is an opportunity to resolve differences between neighbours, India and Pakistan once for all. Here I quote last para from article by Sunita Gupta:
“Unfortunately for Manmohan any defence of his position by party members has been muted. But if history is any indication it is unlikely that the all-round criticism will be an obstacle for the PM. For by now the country is familiar with the fact that behind Manmohan’s mild manners is steely resistance, he has vision for the Subcontinent at peace with itself and he will pursue it”

This is another tribute to Dr. Manmohan Singh that he is man of steely resistance just as Amratya Sen’s tribute was to Manmohan “ He is immensely well-behaved and absolutely happy and supportive – generosity and courteousness”

September 17, 2009 Posted by | India, Indian Economy, Political Commentary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chapter XIII (2000 – 2009)

India is an unequal country as rightly stated by Amratya Sen. It means there is no equality because of caste differences and ownership of vast property in urban areas by few and of agricultural land mainly owned by Landlords who hire labourers from their own area or even migrants from Bihar and UP. Accordingly majority in villages are landless farmers. In the urban areas, in every city, particularly metropolitan city there are slums or jhugis where tens of thousands citizens who have come in search of jobs and livelihood from many parts of rural India live. Women do household Jobs as there is no equality between men and women and men pull Rikshaws or handcarts or work as domestic servants, even that if they are lucky or ready to pay a share of their earnings to the “neta” of that area who keeps muscle men to collect the requisite amount. The defaulters are deprived of the means of transport and livelihood and often are beaten up.

The only solution to end inequalities and make this country from unequal to “equal” for every citizen is to make provision for Job to everyone, provide compulsory free education for all children, unemployment allowance, so that they do not starve and old age pension to all old men and women or senior citizens whether they are villagers or live in cities’ slums. Unless these reforms are constitutionally made and implemented fully and honestly this country will remain an “unequal” country or within one there will be two countries one for the poor and another for the rich. It is not enough to make 50% women mostly illiterates heads of Panchayats in villages when any of their relatives or strongmen of the area get her (Panchayat Pradhan’s) thumb impression on any paper accusing some one who is innocent or giving freedom to one who has committed some crime.

While government has been miser in spending on poor and underprivileged, it has been spending crores every year or foreign trips of Ministers and senior officials, popularly called Babus. Even during short lived Charan Singh Government, 30 years back, 40 senior official of the Central Government had gone abroad on one pretext or other. How can be ministers far behind. Every minister almost twice a week has been going abroad to West, Middle East or Far East. Prabhu Chawla specifically mentions the name of Fazalur Rehman, the then Labour Minister, who visited West Asian countries like Dubai Muscat, Kwait, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia to assess “ways and means to increase employment opportunities for Indian migrants.” It is not only the story of 30 years back but even today the expenditure on Ministers and Senior Civil Servants on their foreign and domestic tours is exceedingly high. For example when Mulayam Singh Yadav was Defence Minister he mostly went to UP. Particularly Lucknow, in military aircraft to his constituency. Can it be justified?

It is a sorry state of affairs even after 62 years of independence. The blame for inequalities and poverty must fall on Congress under Nehru who ruled for 17 years and then Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and now Manmohan Singh though PM but is under supermacy of Sonia Gandhi who is UPA President and actual ruler of UPA government. Out of 62 years Congress has ruled for 55 years. Including congress politicians like Morarji Desai, Narsimaha Rao and V.P Singh though none of these deserved to be Prime Minister of India.

September 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Charan Singh

About Charan Singh’s rise and fall much has been written in the main article as well in brief summaries about Morarji Desai as well as Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Though Charan Singh’s contribution to Janta Party’s victory and Indira Gandhi’s crushing defeat, but as stated, he virtually had no commendable achievement to remember. It was unfortunate for Janta Party rule with which his name could be associated and remembered. It was unfortunate for Janta Party that it had a leader and Home Minister like Charan Singh whose only aim was to be PM whether Janta Party supports him or not, whether Janta Party continues to rule or not. With the help of arch enemy of Janta Party. Indira Gandhi he defeated Morarji Desai and demolished Janta Government. However when her purpose of defeating Janta Government was achieved she got Charan Singh defeated to become  Prime Minister. So less it is said about Charan Singh better it is.

With these remarks and with heavy heart we close the brief summary of Janta Party leaders and Janta Party itself.

Review of Janta Government’s short span will be incomplete without referring to the chief architects of Janta’s victory and on their brief background and their conduct, as politicians, leading to the ultimate failure of Janta government. Morarji Desai had been Chief Minister of Bombay which composed of present day Maharashtra as well as Gujarat. Though he belonged to Gujarat yet his being CM of Bombay, which was predominantly a Marathi speaking state, was not resented because at that time Congress under the leadership of Gandhiji, Sardar Patel, Pandit Nehru and Dr Rajendra Prasad was unquestionably national Party which was instrumental in winning independence (Azadi) for India.

But in due course Maharashtrians demanded ouster of Gujarati Chief Minister. There were huge demonstration even violent ones by the ‘All Party Action Committee of Sanyukta Maharashtra’. They even burnt effigies of Desai and Nehru, besides there being complete strike and thereafter unprecedented riots. When mobs indulged in looting shops and offices, police resorted to firing and that resulted into death of more than a dozen people. So Morarji Desai who had lost control of Bombay and got bad name for himself for congress and Nehru was replaced by Y.B Charan, Maharashtrian, as Chief Minister.

In 1968, young Turks led by Chander Shekhar levied charges of corruption on Desai’s son Kanti Desai. As Morarji Desai was Finance Minister he was charged with issuing licences out of turn to his favourite large Industrial Houses. As Desai also appeared to be opposed to nationalization of Banks. Indira Gandhi divested him from Finance portfolio.

As already explained, in the main articles, Desai was after Prime Ministership and hoped and tried his best, after Pandit Nehru’s demise. He could not get despite all efforts in preference to Lal Bahadur Shastri who was simple and honest. Secondly he got defeat from Indira Gandhi when he demanded voting in Parliament. His ambition to be PM, was however fulfilled after Indira’s defeat in 1976 general relations. So he became PM as Janta Party’s choice but by his failure to control the flock and impress upon equally selfish leader like Charan Singh he miserably failed. Charan Singh who, too, had ambition to be PM. He succeeded with the help of arch enemy of Janta Party, Indira Gandhi. Charan Singh broke the Janta Party and broke the heart of Desai. Thus Desai was a failure as Chief Minister of Bombay, failure as Finance Minister and failure as Prime Minister.
It is incompetent and selfish leaders like Morarji Desai and Charan Singh who tarnished the image of Janta Party and ultimately destroyed it.

Indira Gandhi used Charan Singh, Janta’s Dy CM at that time to oust the Janta Government. She could not forgive and forget Charan Singh who was instrumental in her arrest. She wanted him to be ousted within a month or so but Charan Singh was sworn as PM in July 79 and remained PM for about three months, to pave the way for Indira to be PM again, as Indira informed the President that she and her party had withdrawn support and were no more supporting Charan Singh as PM. Election Commission took 3 months to hold the elections. Accordingly Parliamentary elections were held in less than 3 years. Indira Gandhi became PM with thumping majority, winning 353 seats in Parliament out of 500 or so. This emboldened her more than during emergency because now she was legitimate and duly elected PM with absolute majority, more than in 1971 elections.

Janta’s fratricidal war between leaders and resulting unpopularity and finally Caharn Singh’s dumping Janta Party and Government for getting support of Indira Gandhi made Indira more bold, more revengeful more autocratic. Sanjay had realized that his excesses against Muslims, of large scale demolition in Turkman gate area and family planning, had antagonized Muslims. Accordingly Sanjay apologized to pacify the Muslims and get the ‘Muslim vote Bank’ back in Congress. During emergency it was Sanjay who was real dictator but after 1980 elections remained in the background and Indira became once again the dictator. Her first act was to dismiss nine state Governments. Again it was Sanjay who was now an elected MP as well as General Secretary of Congress, who started weilding authority and power on behalf of PM. It was Sanjay who was to decide who was to be given Congress ticket for Assembly elections and who would be Chief Minister of a Congress ruled state. But unfortunately for mother Indira her son Sanjay died in a single engine plane crash which he was piloting, as a hobby, in New Delhi almost over his residence and PM’s residence. By the end of August Indira persuaded her second son Rajiv who was a pilot in an airline to resign from his job and assist her.
Soon one of the biggest strike of workers was witnessed which went on for two years in Bombay, as the demand of the workers to revise wages ie minimum wage from Rs 670 PM to 940 was rejected by the Government. More than 2,00,000 workers had participated in that strike as a result more than 2 million man days were last. During the same period there was demand for creation of separate State of Jharkhand, mainly inhabited by tribals. Early 1980’s saw revival of demand for independent state of Nogaland under aegis of National socialist council of Nogaland (NSCN) which charged Phizo and his Shillong accord during emergency as sell out. NSCN gurillas in Feb 1988 ambushed a military convoy and killed more than 20 military personnel. The Army restricted with farce and military and NSCN submitted. There was also movement in Assam for new economic policy for the state. Assames also demanded deletion of names of immigrants from voters lists, particularly Bengalis and Muslims.

As explained earlier, during emergency Akalis opposed most vehemently imposition of emergency. As a result out of the total arrests during emergency more than 50% were Akali Sikhs mainly from Punjab who opposed imposition of emergency and courted arrest including Parkash Singh Badal former Chief Minister and leaders of SGPC, the Sikh premier religious organization which managed all the Gurdwara’s of Punjab. During the first 3 months of emergency more than 80,000 people- protesters, leaders and journalists were arrested of these more than 30,000 were Akalis.

So much opposition by Akalis in particular and Sikhs in general infuriated Indira Gandhi and when the time came after the Congress under Indira Gandhi’s leadership was returned to power in 1980 elections with unprecedented majority in Parliament, congress winning 353 seats in Parliament. This not only emboldened her but it got into her head she become revengeful particularly of Sikhs and Akalis as Sikhs constituted only 1.5% of India’s population but had protested against imposition of emergency and were 30% of total arrests during emergency. She at once made up her mind to humiliate and punish not only Akalis but the entire Sikh Community.

Indira immediately started to find ways and means of achieving this nefarious aim by consulting her close associates Sikhs in congress like Giani Zail Singh.

With the end of emergency Badal again became the CM of Punjab, as he was before the imposition of emergency and his subsequent arrest with other prominent members of his cabinet and SGPC. This was not that congress under Indira Gandhi liked, so she started finding ways and means to oust Akalis and punish Sikhs as a whole.
Bhindranwale who was vociforous against Nirankaris and was a seminary of Damdami Taksal, suited Congress and Indira so that an orthodox Sikh faction fights the Akalis. Bhindranwale was built up by Sanjay Gandhi and the Union Home Minister Zail Singh ( himself a former Chief Minister of Punjab) as a counter to the Akalis. Writing in September 1982, the journalist Ayesha Kagal remarked that the Bhindranwale was ‘originally a product nurtured and marketed by the centre to cut into the Akali Dal’s sphere of influence’. (page 559)

Bhindranwale used to come fully armed to New Delhi on the top of a Bus full of his fanatic followers but Delhi Government or Central Government did not take any action to disarm him not to speak of arresting him. He addressed Sikh gathering in Delhi Gurdwaras particularly Bangla Sahib, hardly one km from Central Secretariat. This clearly shows that Indira Gandhi wanted him to be strong rival of Akalis. With the dismissal of Akali Government in 1980 because of apparent Akali-Sikh and, Nirankari violent conflict initiated by Bhindranwala. Punjab situation became tense, because of Bhinderanwale’s militant followers , but no action was taken by the Central or Delhi Government.

In April 80, Nirankari leader Baba Gurcharan Singh was shot dead in New Delhi. It was assumed that this was the work of Bhinderanwale who addressed a number of Sikh gatherings from Akal Takhat inside the Golden Temple complex. He was not prevented by police from taking arms inside the temple complex. Rather he was facilitated to do so. The challenge of Bhinderawale made peaceful and uncommited Sikhs, besides Akalis, to join his demand for a ‘Sikh Republic’ or state. Bhinderawale now compared Congress Rule to Moughal Rule against which the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh fought and defeated Muslims in Punjab, NWFP and Kashmir. To gain popularity among peasant Sikhs, in particular, he wanted and tried to make Sikhs, (particularly Akalis) militants, Bhinderanwale became a hero when after the murder, in September 1981, of Lala Jagat Narain a famous editor who had exposed Bhinderanwale and his followers, and was arrested on charge of murder but released after three weeks. His arrest was dramatic. Darbara Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab wanted to arrest him then and there but Zail Singh prevented him from doing so fearing the fall out. But after sometime Bhinderanwale offered to be arrested by a Sikh Police Officer bearing beard and with turban. Punjab Government agreed to his conditions. His arrest and release after three weeks made Bhinderanwale undisputed leader of Sikhs, more important and more influential than any Sikh leader, including Badal.
That Darbara Singh a Sikh Chief Minister of Punjab and Zail Singh a Sikh Home Minister of Government of India were Indira’s henchmen who played neforious anti Sikh role at the bidding of Indira and facilitated her effort to turnish the image of Akali’s in particular and sikh’s in general as Communal, separatists and even anti-Indira and anti-India. It will be more clear from the following:

“ To give a new twist to Punjab situation several heads of cows were placed before Hindu temple in Amritsar” according to government media, this provocative act was of Dal Khalsa which was banned in May 1982. But emphatic denial of Dal Khalsa was blocked out from media. However in an interview Dr Gopal Singh of Himachal University said ‘ it was the work of Darbara Singh’s agents. It is for record that some Muslim butchers from Saharnpur recruited to throw cow-heads at places of Hindu worship were arrested at Amritsar but the inconvenient news was suppressed’. Giani Zail Singh who knew the truth about cow-heads being placed at Hindu places of worship was told by Indira not to speak on Punjab or proofer any advice unsolicited’ (Dr Sangat Singh, Sikhs in History page 384-85).

Throughout 1982, on the other side negotiations on Anandpur Sahib Resolution between the Akali’s and the Indira government continued but without any result. Thus all Akali legislators en mass resigned from Punjab Assembly because of delaying tactics of the Government. Akali’s became more vociferous as well as active as challenge of Bhinderanwale who had been made a Sikh hero, was upsetting Akali’s and they were loosing followers and workers.

Not to be left behind Akali started organizing Shahidi Jathas ie Martyers Squads, and started comparing congress rule with Mughal rule and addressed the Akali gatherings to be ready for supreme sacrifice to end the tyranny of Indira rule. In April 83 a senior Police officer A.S. Atwal was killed after he had left Golden Temple after prayers but Bhinderanwale followers thought he had been sent by Inidra to survey the hide outs of Sikh militants in Golden Temple Cmplex, particularly Akal Takhat.

In October 83 a bus was stopped and Hindu passengers were segregated, obviously by Bhinderanwale followers and Killed. Bhinderanwale and his militants fully armed entered Golden Temple and took up residence in Akal Takhat.

With the rise of Bhinderanwale with the support of Indira Government through Darbara Singh and Zail Singh, Akal Takhat was allowed to be occupied and became virtually a citadel of Bhindreranwale and his militant followers. Bhinderanwale started addressing the followers from Akal Takhat daily and like the Sikh Gurus started issuing Hukamnamas (orders). To make his Akal Takhat fortress more effective a retired Major General of Indian Army Subheg Singh was authorized to surprise the arming and preventive measures of Akal Takhat so that it could withstand the possible attack by Government forces and even repulse.

Both sides, Indira Government and Bhinderanwale squads were now ready to face armed confrontation. Government wanted a senior Sikh military officer to lead military operations. Accordingly Major General R.S. Barar was appointed and briefed by the Generals Sunderji and Dayal. It was clear that the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had decided to trounce the Akali’s and Sikhs in their most sacred and historical Gurdwara and Akal Takhat, the Golden Temple Complex, though for last year or so she had been negotiating with Akalis on one side and preparing for attack on Golden Temple on the other. The tragedy was bound to be worst because such a day of attack by Indian Army was chosen which was 5th Sikh Guru. Arjan Dev martyrdom day and thousands of Sikhs had come to pay homage to the great Guru.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | India, Indian History, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Declaration of Emergency June 75

Indira Gandhi declared emergency in the night of June 25-26-1975. There were individual cases of protests especially by the students of Delhi University for a couple of months as in an obituary notice in The Times of India, ‘death of Mrs Democracy wife of Mr Freedom’. But by and large the people took it casually. No political party except the Akali Dal took up the challenge. ‘According to Amnesty International,1,40,000 persons were detained without trial during emergency and of them 60,000 were Sikhs.’ (quoted from Inder Malhotra ‘Indira Gandhi a Personal and Political Biography’ (London 1989) p 178) As Akali agitation was going with greater intensity despite MISA and other laws to punish the agitators, Indira sent emissaries Amrinder Singh and Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian. But they failed in getting Akalis to withdraw agitation even during a deal including a formation of a coalition government in Punjab with Akalis ( from Mark Tully and Satish Jacob , Amritsar Mrs Gandhi’s lost Battle London 1985) Because of failure of compromise due to effort of Amrinder Singh and other Mrs Gandhi took up, in revenge, to inflict injury to Sikhs and Punjab. Firstly, as Sangat Singh says in his book The Sikhs in History, she came up with award in March 25 1976 allocating the waters and Hydal Power of the punjab rivers under section 78 of Punjab Reorganization Act of 1966 to Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Punjab. Indira now used the discretion with malice and vengeance to award 75% of waters to neighbouring non-riparian states to create in them vested interest to the deteriment of legal rights of Punjab. Secondly, the Defence Ministry for the first time issued orders for recruitment in the armed forces based on the quotas to provinces on the basis of population. This was designed to reduce the intake and content of the Sikhs in armed forces to just two percent.

The Sikhs were asked to pay a very heavy price for their uprightness and standing up to the dictatorial perceptions of Indira Gandhi.

Even a non-political princess like Gayatri Devi of Jaipur was not spared.

As explained before Indira Gandhi got the President to sign the proclamation of Emergency because Supreme Court in its interim order had disallowed her to vote in Parliament though she could attend Parliament till final order of Supreme Court. It is thus evident that the Emergency was proclaimed , so that she could continue PM without waiting for the decision of S.C which could go either way. The moment this historic proclamation was singed by the President, Indira Gandhi became bold and ordered switching off power supply to all News Papers so that there was no issue in the morning with any editorial or comments on the issue of Emergency. On the morning of 26th June she addressed the nation on AIR trying to justify the issue of Proclamation of Emergency. Here are some extracts from her speech:-

The President has proclaimed the emergency. This is nothing to panic about. I am sure you all are conscious of deep and widespread conspiracy, which has been ever since I began to introduce certain progressive measures of benefit to the Common man and Woman of India… Certain persons have gone to the length of muting our armed faces to mutiny and our police to rebel…..The forces of disintegration are in full play and Communal passion’s are being aroused threatening our, unity…..This is not a personal matter. It is not important whether remain Prime Minister or not…….. May I appeal for your continued cooperation and trust in the days ahead.

In the first session of Parliament on July 23 after Emergency few opposition leaders who were not yet arrested, protested vehemently on the imposition of Emergency just to allow Indira Gandhi to continue as PM despite SC verdict against her. Shri A K Gopalan the seasoned CPM leader said that large scale arrest of men and women since imposition of Emergency had reduced Parliament to a farce and object of contempt “ But CPI’s Inderjit Gupta supported Emergency and went so for as to say that Jayaparkash Narain through agitation of over one year wanted to seize power in many states”.

On the other hand a Jan Sangh MP openly accused Indira Gandhi of betraying the motherland for the sake of personal ends’. Thereafter the opposition MP’s either bycotted the parliament or were arrested or sent to jail. In the first three months of Emergency it is reported that 80,000 people had been put behind bar, both men and women.

Besides satyagraha by followers of JP who had been arrested on the very first day of Emergency, another leader Manibehn Patel, daughter of Sardar Patel started Satyagraha in Ahmadabad, she and her followers raising slogans in Dandi, famous for Gandhi Ji’s salt Satyagraha known as Dandi March, “Remove Emergency” and release all political prisoners. Even Sardar Patel’s daughter was not spared. She was arrested but the next day a judge ordered her release. Being Sardar Patel’s daughter she continued with the march to the sea with handful of policemen in plainclothes because all her supporters in the precession had been either arrested or beaten by police.

There were intellectuals and men of letters who were upset because of composition of Emergency. Highly respected Kanada novelist Shivranjan Karnath who had joined freedom movement in 20’s under Gandhiji inspiration and was awarded Padma Bhushan, returned the award. Similarly a Hindi novelist Phaneshwaranath RENU returned the award of Padmashri. These intellectuals were inspired by Rabindera Nath Tagore, who had relinquished his Knighthood in protest against Jallianwala Bagh measure by the British Government. Of all the prominent leaders only J.B Kirplani was not arrested. Kirplani had joined independence movement in 1917, many years before Jawahar Lal Nehru joined. He had been Congress President at the time of independence—was not arrested despite his fiery speech on Gandhi ji birthday at Gandhi Ji’s Smadhi Rajghat on 2nd Oct 1975. Kuldeep Nayyar in his book. The Judgment writes that on 2nd oct JB Kirplani, the 85 year old Gandhite was also one of the protesters. “He was first arrested but then released in Kerala, posters even in remote villages appeared to urge the people not to be cowards in front of injustice and tyranny. In April 76 Kirplani asked the government to publish the names of those political leaders who have been arrested during Emergency. He regretted and even complained that why he did not have the ‘privilege’ of being arrested along with JP Desai and other leaders.

After six weeks of Emergency Sanjay Gandhi, Indira’s son became virtual Deputy P M with almost exclusive powers . Even his mother the PM started referring all congress leaders and Ministers to consult Sanjay. So from that day Sanjay’s words or orders became law. None could dare oppose him or even suggest an alternative or give advice or opinion. In his first long interview after Emergency he said that his mother always consulted and even took his advice. He advocated free enterprise in place of socialist pattern or state ownership, so that his Maruti car will not be behind Fiat and Ambassador. This made fundamental change in the policy of the Government during Emergency.

With proclamation of emergency India, under Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi moved towards dictatorship. Many journalists were arrested for instance Malkani of Motherland Delhi and Jagat Narain of Hind Samachar of Jullundur. On 29th June a meeting of journalists and editors was held at Press Club of India that passed a resolution to protest against the imposition of Press Censorship and urged the Indira Govt to lift the ban and release the journalists that have been arrested.

Kuldeep Nayyar in his book ‘The Judgement’ has quoted from Washington Post Correspondent who was banished from India, Lewis M Sinon, a very infecting para in “Sanjay Gandhi and his Mother” which is reproduced below:

“Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, distrustful of even her closest cabinet colleagues at this time of grave crisis for India, is turning to her contraversial younger son, Sanjay, for help in making major decisions. She is scared to death of him”.

That is the stuff of which Sanjay Gandhi was made of, with no respect or even regard for elders including Cabinet Ministers and high officials and even his mother, who was Prime Minister of India and had imposed on India for the first time and last time to date Emergency so as to remain in power come what way. But she willingly handed over all powers of PM to Sanjay as will be seen from the para quoted from Kuldeep Nayyars Book.

During first couple of months of Emergency 60,000 people had been arrested including Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur and Rajmata of Gwalior and sent to Tihar Jail to stay with common “criminals and prostitutes like living in a bazaar” said Gayatri Devi, one of the most beautiful, sophisticated princess and graceful mother.

From 9th July, Akali’s in Punjab launched a morcha in Punjab against Emergency and offer arrests. “Roughly 45000 Sikhs courted arrests” including Akali top leadership including Parkash Singh Balal. Akali Chief Minister of Punjab and Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SGPC President.

Even prominent Gandhitis like Bhim Sen Sochar, who was a Minister in undivided Punjab before partition and was thereafter Chief Minister of India and Punjab and even was Governor, was arrested for demanding abrogation of Press Censorship and demanding freedom and dignity of individual belonging to one party or another or even not being in active politics.

While R.S.S. had been banned, Eminent opposition leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, S N Mishra of congress (O) and Madhu Dandwate, a socialist, were in jail in Karnatka, Shanti Bhushan an eminent advocate (who later become Law Minister) took up their case in the High Court at Bangalore saying “ We are challenging the entire emergency and the measures that the government has imposed and how they were part of what Mrs Gandhi called ‘the gravely threatening conspiracy’ . Dedicated and fearless lawyers had filed thousands of writs for release of detenues or for improving their living conditions as Princess Gayatri Devi who fell ill in Tihar Jail had said they were living in the ‘bazaar’ of ‘prostitutes’.

Other eminent lawyers like V M Terakunde, former judge of Bombay High Court, Minoo Masani Soli, Sorabjee fought gratis the cases of many detenues. Former justice of a Supreme Court of India M C Chagla said almost all or majority of people in jails thought Indira (about one lakh), do not know ‘ why they are in jail and so they cannot defend themselves’ unless they know the charges against them. But neither Indira nor her son Sanjay had thought or had time for these legal matters. They were busy consolidating their power and ruling the country as a dictatorship like that of Hitler in Germany or Stalin in USSR.

With most of the opposition MP’s locked in jails, a series of constitutional amendments were passed by the Parliament (belonging to congress). The 38th Amendment passed on July 22, 1975 barred judicial review of the emergency. Only two weeks after 39th amendment outlined that election of Prime Minister could not be challenged in any court, including Supreme Court.

To gag the process constitutionally, the Press council an independent watchdog body was abolished. A law ‘granting immunity to journalists covering Parliament was revoked and as many as 253 journalists were placed under arrest’ including Kuldeep Nayyar of Indian Express and K.R Sunder Rajan of Times of India.

J P was a great Selfless Social worker and honest leader of India. He was sometimes socialist in his youth but ultimately joined Gandhiji’s non-violent independence movement. He was dedicated to Sarvodya and even after independence did not or declined any political status or office of importance in Congress Party or Congress Government. It is irony of fate of JP and India that such a social worker of such eminence was put behind bars by Indira Gandhi during Emergency. It was negation of not only our constitution but all that for which Gandhiji, Indira’s father Jawahar Lal Nehru and leaders like Dr Rajendra Parsad, Sardar Patel and Dr B R Ambedkar stood and fought throughout their lives.

As stated earlier J P was jailed along with other political leaders immediately after declaration of emergency. While in jail, in November 75, JP’s health suddenly deteriorated because of filthy conditions of over crowded jail and unpalatable food . It created panic in Indira – Sanjay dictatorship and also in the Congress Party fearing if JP died in jail hell will break out for the Government and Congress Party. Accordingly J P was at once shifted to Jaslok Hospital in Bombay to provide him best possible treatment to save his life as well as the life of government.

Sanjay Gandhi had become virtual or effective PM as Indira delegated all powers to her younger son, directed all Ministers and senior officers to consult Sanjay or in fact take orders from him. Sanjay and his views and actions were given wide publicity on state controlled Radio and Media as will be noticed from following:

‘ In a single year 192 news items were broadcast about Sanjay Gandhi from the Delhi Station of AIR. In the same period Doordarshan telecast 26 items on Sanjay’s activities. When he made a 24 hour trip to Andhra Pradesh, the Film Division shot a full-length documentary called ‘A day to remember with commentary in their languages’.

Because of his extra constitutional powers Sanjay Gandhi had his own coterie of which Jagmohan was the key member, other members of this coterie were Navin Chawla who was then secretory to the Governor of Delhi and senior Police officer P.S. Bhinder. Among the ladies who were members of this unlawful coterie were Ambika Soni and Ruksana Sultana. Every morning this coterie met in Sanjay’s office to report on how and what they had implemented on previous days orders of Sanjay and to take fresh instructions and orders for the day. R.K Dhawan Indira’s steno was the link between PM’s office and Sanjay’s ‘Darbar’.

Mission to clean up Delhi convened with Jagmohan as in charge of this enterprise which was fraught with dangers. Demolition started on 13th April 1976, when a bulldozer moved into unauthorized area near Turk man Gate demolishing some slums inhabited by forty poor families, A few days later bulldozer moved to the ground some antique structures in Turk man Gate area. Many people protested but were helpless. For couple of days there was pause but demolition started again with bulldozers under direct instructions of jagmohan who was DDA’s Vice Chairman or head. As hundreds of houses were demolished in the narrow streets of Turk-man Gate area affected, as inevitable, people stoned the Police which is relation lathi charged and then spoadic fire killing a number of protectors between “10 to 200” as exact number could not be ascertained because curfew was imposed in the Turk-man Gate area.

Meanwhile another problem cropped up as Sanjay was keen to control India’s growing population,he authorized sterilization. This,too, was carried to unforeseen limits and frenzy and protests. As it was mostly the Muslim inhabited area of old Delhi’s Turk-man Gate, to cool down the tempers and rebellions protests Sheikh Abdullah was called. He visited the congested area where shooting had taken place and was very much moved. He protested to Indira Gandhi saying that the whole trouble began when young, old and even in valid were dragged off to the sterilization camps”. Even compulsory sterilization was thereafter imposed in the villages around Delhi. Simultaneously protests continued in Delhi and neighboring UP. Worst incident took place in Muzzafer Nagar where to curb the violent protests “Police opened fire in which fifty people died”.

This incident moved even the PM who admitted the excesses in sterilization campaign in the Parliament. From here the decline of the popularity of Congress, Sanjay and Indira commenced. To stem the tide of protests and firing, Indira Gandhi commented on 18th January 1977 that Parliament would be dissolved and fresh elections will be held. Infact Indira, because of emergency, could extend Parliament from year to year but she took the decision without consulting anyone, not even Sanjay. She broadcast the decision to hold general elections in states and for Parliament. This announcement led to release of all Political prisoner from jails all over India. Speak Congress leadership even was surprised.

Though J P was old and infirm as he was on many occasions on dialysis. Yet between February 25 and March 5 “ he spoke at Patna, Calcutta, Bombay, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Indore, Pune and Ratlam. Everywhere he warned the audience that this is the last free elections if the congress is voted back to power then nineteen months of tyranny shall become nineteen years of terror”. In her speeches Indira Gandhi spoke as usual about the conspiracy against her and that emergency ‘was necessary at that time’.

In northern India there was a sort of referendum against ‘Compulsory Sterilization’ and forced vasectomies. In many meetings voters asked the congress speakers or candidates to show their own sterilization certificates. Often there were slogan’s against Sanjay Gandhi. There were hectic campaigns in all states against Sanjay, Indira and Congress. Even the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid asked the Muslims not to vote for Congress. Jana Sangh and Akali Dal were vociferous against congress of Indira and Sanjay. To ensure defeat of Congress all opposition had united under one party ie Janta Party which constituted of Jana Sangh, Bhartiya Lok Dal of Charan Singh, socialist Party and Morarji Desai’s Congress (o). Even Jagjiwan Ram took the courage to resign from Indira’s cabinet and join the newly formed Janta Party. This brought vast number of backward classes to the fold of Janta Party as hitherto they had been supporting Congress of Mahatma Gandhi.

On the 20th March election results came as a shock to Indira and Sanjay as both mother and son were defeated. In UP in particular congress could not win even one seat out of 84. It was Congress debacle.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | India, Indian History, Political Commentary | , , , | Leave a comment