Sunday, 8 January 2017

Don’t insult Prime Minister Modi

 Narendra Modi bowing to the Parliament before his first entry as Prime Minister

On January 2, 2017, addressing a mammoth public rally at Lucknow, Prime Minister Modi said, “Whereas I am busy battling corruption and black money, other political parties have chosen to target me rather than fight the menace.”

Ever anxious to draw parallels,, immediately several media persons started reminding people that Modi was launching his election campaign the way Indra Gandhi had launched her election campaign for 1971 Lok Sabha polls:  “Main kahati hoon Garibi Hatao, woh kahate hain Indira hatao” (While I’m trying to eradicate poverty, they are obsessed with removing me.”

Perhaps, the comparison has been made to point out that Modi has become as assertive and aggressive as Indra Gandhi.

Whatever the purpose, in my opinion it is very unfair to compare Narendra Modi with Indra Gandhi. In fact, I call it an insult to Narendra Modi.

Indra Gandhi was autocratic and self-centred who would not hesitate to sacrifice the interest of the country to protect herself and her family. For her, slogans like “Garibi Hatao” and ideologies like “socialism” and “secularism” were merely tools to hoodwink poor people. Perhaps people do not know that before the slogan “Garibi Hatao” was made public, she had asked the Planning Commission to suggest slogans. She was not impressed by the suggestions received from the officials of the Commission and coined own slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ (I was told about this by a senior officer after I joined the Commission as deputy secretary in late 1974.)

 To establish her personal rule over the Congress party and then over the country, she split the party. She had no qualms in misusing governmental machinery for her personal gains. When the Allahabad High Court declared her election to the Lok Sabha in 1971 null and void on account of misuse of official machinery, she used an obliging President to declare the state of ‘Emergency’ and assumed dictatorial powers which she shared with her son and heir apparent, Sanjay Gandhi whose words became law for the ministers and officers.

She was never tired of telling the whole world that she was a firm believer in socialism (she added words “Secular’ and “Socialist “to the Preamble to the Indian Constitution during the Emergency) and used her ‘cherished’ ideology to build close friendship with the erstwhile Soviet Union but did not allow 'socialism' to come in the way of Sanjay Gandhi’s car project in the private sector. When (about two months after she gave “Garibi Hatao” slogan), the then Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission (Dr D. R. Gadgil) and the then Member in-charge of industry (R. Venkataraman) rejected Sanjay Gandhi’s car project on the ground that the poor of India needed public transport, not Sanjay Gandhi's car, she gave marching order to D. R. Gadgil on whose advice Venkataraman too resigned. Both left for their respective home towns. In the running train, on way to Pune, a shattered Gadgil died of heart attack. (Perhaps, I am the only living person who knows the full inside story which I was told by a very close associate of Venkataraman.)

Much of what India has suffered is due to Indra Gandhi’s social, political and economic policies and her ambition to impose dynastic rule. In 1966, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri made her a cabinet minister simply because she was Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to build a new India on the ruins left behind by the decades of misrule of the dynasty. Unlike Indra Gandhi and many other self-styled socialists and leaders of the poor, he is not in politics to make fortune for himself or his family or to build a dynasty. His only ambition is to build a corruption free, neat and clean, prosperous, modern and powerful India.

Prime Minister Modi worships the institution of Parliament and respects all democratic institutions. Indira Gandhi misused and damaged all democratic institutions

If media persons have to compare Indra Gandhi with modern leaders, they can find several candidates. For example, Arvind Kejriwal’s promise to eradicate corruption is as false as Indra Gandhi’s ‘Garibi Hatao’. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee are competing with each other in shedding crocodile tears for the poor.

Devendra Narain

January 8, 2017

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