Congress lost the Lok Sabha elections for the first time in 1977. During the Emergency that preceded the elections, Indira Gandhi had literally abdicated her authority as Prime Minister to her younger son Sanjay Gandhi who was petulant, had little regard for law and had been dubbed as the ‘unconstitutional authority’ in the Indira Gandhi regime.
If the Congress barely mustered 44 members in Lok Sabha in 2014, the blame is put by many Congress leaders – openly by some and in hushed tones by others – on Rahul Gandhi, son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Here are accounts of two persons, one close to Indira Gandhi and the other to Sonia Gandhi, on how they perceived the roles of Sanjay Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
B K Nehru, ICS and an outstanding administrator and diplomat, was not only a cousin of Indira Gandhi but also her close adviser on internal and foreign affairs. Captain Amarinder Singh, now Deputy Leader of Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) and former chief minister of Punjab, has had close and prolonged association with (late) Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
I did discuss Sanjay’s doings with Rajiv. He was as discontented, disgusted and depressed with what was happening as was everybody not belonging to the small clique of Sanjay’s buddies and supporters. I asked Rajiv why his mother allowed all this to happen; he said that the fact was that she had abdicated in favour of her son. She exercised none of the powers of the Prime Minister, they had all been delegated to Sanjay. From what I myself had seen it seemed that she was operating as if she were the President and the Foreign Minister. It seemed that she did not know what was happening inside the country. Fori Nehru ( B K Nehru’s wife), not as circumspect as myself… had no hesitation in telling her (Indira Gandhi) of what she had heard in Chandigarh about the compulsory sterilisation of young boys and old men and of the discontent this was causing. To this Indira’s answer was to take her head in her hands and say ‘What am I to do? What am I to do? They tell me nothing.’
–B K Nehru in in his memoirs ‘Nice Guys Finish Second’, quoted by Natwar Singh in his autobiography ‘One Life Is Not Enough’
I tried my best at that stage to tell him (Rahul Gandhi) that do not do these elections (inner-party experiments). I spoke to the Congress president, who, too, spoke to him. But he had made up his mind that something had to be put in place and shouldn’t be interfered with. I told him pre-2012 that ‘You will divide each village, which will have its own Youth Congress, and that means it will get divided right to the top; even parents take sides in such a situation, we will have problem’. He didn’t listen and that is exactly what happened.
…She (Priyanka Gandhi) and Rahul have their own abilities and together they can make a very good team to help the Congress president. I have known them since they were children because they studied with my daughter and son. Priyanka is a very determined young lady, you saw the way she carried herself when her grandmother died and when her father died…I have never worked with Rahul because he takes care of the Youth Congress only, though he has been the vice-president for some time.
–Captain Amarinder Singh in ‘Idea Exchange’ in The Indian Express of June 15, 2014
Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People’s Republic of China and also the Chairman of that country’s Central Military Commission, was recently in India with his beautiful, folk singer wife Peng Liyuuan. As Xi was holding talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Indian leaders on wide-ranging bilateral issues, the Chinese troops were continuing their intrusions into the Ladakh area – quite an irritant in otherwise cordial atmosphere.
Back home after hoping for greater cooperation between the two countries, Xi reportedly reshuffled the country’s top brass and called on Beijing’s army chiefs to improve troops’ combat readiness so that they are able to “win a regional war.”
“The headquarters of all PLA (People’s Liberation Army) forces should improve their combat readiness and sharpen their ability to win a regional war in the age of information technology,” Xi was reported to have said at a meeting with the country’s military elite. “In the face of a new national security situation and new requirements for defence preparation … [the military] must strive to build new types of command that follow party instructions and are skilled in planning combat strategies,…”
Significantly, all this was made public through China’s official Xinhua news agency.
In the late 1970’s I was (then living in Delhi) asked by the Editor of a prominent Hindi daily to write for the paper’s Sunday supplement small pieces on neighbouring countries. The idea was to educate the youngsters about the countries in our neighbourhood. The series was published under the heading: ‘Padosi Deshon Ko Jaaniye’ (know the neighbouring countries); it was later expanded to ‘Mitra Deshon Ko Jaaniye’ (know the friendly countries).
In addition to collecting material from various sources, I wrote to the embassies requesting them to send me the basic information about their respective countries, such as geographical area, population, major cities, constitution, languages, etc. I received wonderful material from most of the embassies. The only exception was the Chinese embassy which sent me a booklet of cartoons – without a single line about the country.
The Chinese are traditionally taciturn. They reach out to the media not as a routine but only as part of strategy. It is, therefore, puzzling why the Chinese leaders have made a public announcement of the discussions held at a confidential meeting of the top army brass!
The Congress in Madhya Pradesh wants disciplinary action against two IAS officers who went to the BJP office for briefing the ruling party leaders about organising the month-long ‘Krishi Mahotsava’ in the State. A party delegation led by PCC chief Arun Yadav submitted a memorandum to Chief Secretary Anthony De Sa and demanded action against Principal Secretary (Agriculture) Rajesh Rajora and Secretary to Chief Minister S K Mishra for violating the Service Conduct Rules. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Satyadev Katare wanted to know if the two IAS officers would also come to the PCC to brief the Congress leaders.
Arun Yadav also complained to the President of India as well as the Union Ministry of Personnel.
This is not the first time that the serving officers have violated the Service Conduct Rules (mostly when the BJP is the ruling party) but the Congress has never taken up the issue with the seriousness required in such cases. During the BJP-led NDA government of Atal Behari Vajpayee, then Chief of Army Staff V P Malik went to the BJP office in Delhi to brief the party leaders on the border situation. This was a much more serious matter than two IAS officers going to the Bhopal office of BJP but the Congress did not protest.
Manoj shrivastava, once a blue eyed boy of Congress chief minister Digvijaya Singh, endeared himself to the Sangh Parivar leaders and became a prominent member of the unofficial think-tank of the BJP. To please the Parivar, Shrivastava even tried to project late RSS chief M S Golwalkar as a freedom fighter. A piece of “historical research” that appeared in “Madhya Pradesh Sandesh” of January 2010 said: In all, 41 Freedom Fighters were detained in the Seoni jail during different periods. While 40 of them were confined between 1931 and 1945, “Shri Sadashiv Golwalkar (Guruji)” was detained there from January 10, 1949 to June 6, 1949, according to the article. The article gave to Guruji the third place among the “immortal Freedom Fighters”, after only Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Ravi Shankar Shukla, H.V.Kamath, Seth Govind Das, M.V.Abhyankar, Kaka Kalelkar, Vamanrao Joshi, Madhav Shri Hari Ane, P.K.Deshmukh and others come only afterwards.
“Madhya Pradesh Sandesh” is the official monthly of the Madhya Pradesh government and Manoj Shrivastava was Commissioner of Public Relations and editor of “Sandesh” at the time. He took keen interest in what should or should not appear in the magazine.
This historical blunder, however, created such a furore (though not by Congress) that the magazine had to carry in the next issue a “correction” stating that the name of then RSS chief Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (Guruji) was included in the list of eminent freedom fighters “by mistake”.
Then Leader of Opposition in the Assembly (late) Jamuna Devi had complained to the Union Ministry of Personnel against Manoj Shrivastava’s working like a BJP activist rather than an IAS officer. Suresh Pachauri was in charge of the Department of Personnel as Minister of State. Jamuna Devi was hoping that Pachauri would initiate action against Shrivastava but he did not. Had the Union Government even issued a show cause notice to the erring IAS officer, Rajora and Mishra would have thought twice before going to the BJP office in Bhopal.