These days, Indian media is apprehensively too sympathetic to Lal Krishna Advani, the octogenarian BJP mentor’s ‘declining influence’ in his party!
As if, in the opposition parties including Congress (Oh, of course, Mulayam Singh’s party can be put aside for obvious reasons), all the octogenarian leaders are in the key positions!
This crocodile tear shedding by media becomes obvious, when Advani says something, on any topic, is diligently interpreted as Advani’s ‘outburst’ against Narendra Modi and his Government!
Media simply forgets, how the then Congress President Sitaram Keshri was literally thrown out of his post as well as of the office, to accommodate Sonia Gandhi, as the President. The forlorn man died shortly thereafter.
And remember Narasimha Rao? One of the most successful Congress Prime Ministers in the recent times, who was virtually forgotten, after someone from Nehru-Gandhi scion, got into the mantle. He was nearly sidelined and died an ignominious death.
The ‘Emergency’ Question
In an interview remembering India’s internal emergency in 1975, L K Advani had said: “At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger…..I don’t think anything has been done that gives the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again.”
In an uproarious and concocted manner, the mainstream media, the Congress Party, the Left and many other political parties leapt out in utter glee to pounce on Narendra Modi and his Government, by interpreting that LK Advani’s statement is a veiled indication to the way the Central Government under Modi is being run.
Senior Congress leader and spokesperson Ghulam Nabi Azad was prompt to comment : “Advani… has indirectly hinted that there was a declared Emergency 40 years ago but for the last one year there has been an undeclared Emergency. That is why he senses the threat of a repeat. I think the message should go across wherever it should go.”
The blabbermouth septuagenarian Congress honcho Digvijay Singh was with his ready remark : “We all know who he (Advani) is hinting at. He himself was a victim of Emergency and if he is saying that Emergency-like conditions can develop again and anti-democratic forces are becoming stronger, then it speaks volumes of what he has in mind.”
Raja from CPI was not left behind. Forgetting the very fact that his party CPI was an ardent supporter of Indira Gandhi, during those despotic days…due to obvious pressure from their foreign master Soviet Union, remarked: “Advani is a very senior politician. And if he makes such a remark, I think it is very clear. He should come out openly if he was serious about the issue he was raising. At least during the time the late Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency, she had blamed the Opposition. Now fears are being raised from within.”
“Advani ji is correct in saying that emergency can’t be ruled out. Is Delhi their first experiment?” Delhi Chief Minister AAP maestro Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted.
Lalu Yadav, who takes eternal pride in the fact that it was his Government , which arrested L K Advani, during Rath Yatra, at Samastipur is Bihar, and later he himself had gone to Jail on three occasions, convicted for his involvement in the despised ‘Fodder Scam’, was ready with his remark: “Advaniji proved that our concerns regarding anti-democratic elements and activities being sponsored and promoted by (the) Union government are correct. Already there is (an) undeclared emergency as authoritarian and Hitlerian (sic) tendencies (have been) prevailing in (the) country…”.
And thus spoke JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar: “Advaniji is a very senior leader. I share his concerns, his worries are valid. We are facing an Emergency-like situation daily.”
And the most unexpected comment came from the Supreme Court.
Heading the Constitution Bench, Justice J S Khehar, regarding Judicial Appointments… made some observations , with references to L K Advani’s interview to ‘The Indian Express’, published on June 18 this year!
Piqued by all these interpretations and burst of expressions, Advani had to comment in ‘The Times of India’ on June 19: that he had spoken “precisely about the Emergency in the interview, and there is absolutely no reason to interpret it in the present day context, as there is no reference to it. I have spoken only about Emergency.”
“At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger,” Advani said in a newspaper interview that appeared on Thursday.
In the years since the Emergency in 1975-77, he said, “I don’t think anything has been done that gives the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again. Not at all.”
And it’s surprising enough that , no journalist or politician had the will or the time to listen or read Advani’s long interview at the same time, with Karan Thapar where he clarified everything quite openly!
What he had said to Karan Thapar on June 19, here is an excerpt:
KT: I want to come to the interview, Mr Advani, you gave the Indian Express on Thursday. You said in that interview “at present, the forces that can crush democracy are stronger”. I don’t think anything has been done that gives me the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again and you added not at all. Why do you believe that the forces that can crush democracy are stronger today?
Advani: I do not know if I used the word stronger. I simply said strong. But I did feel, and I said it to the correspondent also who was interviewing me, I said what surprises me and distresses me is that those who have imposed such a drastic emergency on the country, do not seem to have any sense of guilt for that, it is this that distresses me and makes me feel that if people can do all this. We are going to Bangalore for a parliamentary committee meeting and they propose to arrest us there, they can do anything.
KT: So you are suggesting the fact that there is no sense of atonement either on the part of Congress or Gandhi family for the Emergency and no assurance from them that this won’t happen again.
Advani: That’s right and therefore I said in my interview to Indian Express also. It is because even after all these arrest, Jayaprakash being arrested, there is no sense of guilt, nowhere in the Congress party, nowhere in the Parliament. And this is that makes me worry.
KT: Would you have expected a formal public apology from the Congress party for the Emergency?
Advani: I would certainly have expected. These days someone asked me, what about 6 December, what happened in Ayodhaya etc. I said I wrote immediately after that, I was in jail at that time and I did write to a letter to some paper, expressing regrets saying yeh kya hua hai.
KT: You said it was the worst day of your life.
KT: And you expected Indira Gandhi and the Gandhi family to do something.
LK: Something similar.
KT: Indira Gandhi did after she lost the elections resigned, she did accept responsibility. Do you think that was…
LK: I don’t know, I don’t recall but I have not seen any sense of guilt weighing on them, that yeh nahi hona chahiye (it shouldn’t have happened).
KT: So in a sense, there is a moral responsibility on Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as her descendant to a. express that guilt and b. to give an assurance it will never happen.
LK: That’s right. In fact, I have read out to you this particular Shah Commission report which was created at that time and all these …how they were made”.
Incidentally all the copies of ‘Shah Commission Report’ were systematically destroyed by Indira Gandhi Government, when it came to power in 1977. And this appalling fact, no media report is highlighting, ever!
The Jinnah Episode
L.K. Advani was born in 1927, to Kishanchand Advani and Gyan Devi in Karachi, Sindh, part of undivided India then. He completed his education from Saint Patrick’s High School, and D G N College in Karachi and then went on to graduate from Government Law College in Bombay. He completed his Master’s in Sociology from Bombay University.
His started his career as a teacher to high school students at Model High School in Karachi. Joined RSS in the city and left Sindh to Delhi during Partition of India, in 1947.
When the foreign origin and citizenship of Sonia Gandhi(reportedly, she gave up her Foreign citizenship, only after Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister), was raised by the opposition, there were many Congress over-enthusiasts like Rajiv Shukla and others, who started calling Advani a foreigner! Denying the fact that what Partition meant to most of the Indians!
Later when it became known that, Manmohan Singh also belonged to Goh, in Pakistan, these Congress people stopped taunting Advani.
In 2005, Advani called Muhammad Ali Jinnah a secular statesman during his maiden tour after Partition to Karachi and Islamabad. And there was widespread controversy not that much from the BJP or RSS, but from Congress and other political parties who started ridiculing him.
Visiting Karachi after 48 years, to his birthplace was an emotional re-tour for 78 year old Advani.
But no one in India, either in Media or the politicians bothered to recheck, what L K Advani had said in Pakistan.
Advani clearly said that Jinnah never visualised Pakistan as a Muslim Ummah, but as a secular country, where Hindus and Muslims would co-exist.
At Jinnah’s Mausoleum, he wrote:
“There are many people who leave an irreversible stamp on history. But there are few who actually create history. Qaed-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual. In his early years, leading luminary of freedom struggle Sarojini Naidu described Jinnah as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.
His address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August 1947 is really a classic and a forceful espousal of a secular state in which every citizen would be free to follow his own religion. The State shall make no distinction between the citizens on the grounds of faith. My respectful homage to this great man”.
In the Constituent Assembly speech of 11 August 1947, Jinnah had said: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State”.
In the same speech Jinnah had also said: “We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.”
Jinnah had reiterated: “In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims—Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan”( M. A. Jinnah, Broadcast: February, 1948).
Not Just Jaswant Singh, but many others like Stanley Wolpert, Ayesha Jalal, Amalendu De and other historians wrote about Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and hardly found him a rabid communal person. The wine lover Barrister, who was perhaps not averse even to forbidden meat was no Shrewani clad Qaed- e- Azam, but a rational person.
It was Congress led Lucknow Pact of 1916, that was prompted by the hankering after power, created that aspirational divide between the Hindu and Muslim electorates.
The Pact clearly stated:
- Muslims should be given 1/3 representation in Central Govt.
- There should be separate electorates for all communities until they ask for joint electorate.
Only Bipin Chandra Pal was candid enough to say that this arrangement would lead to constant deadlock.
It was Nehru, who was covertly chosen by the British as the future PM of India, now known through various British intelligence reports.
The Partition of India was ratified by Congress under the leadership of Nehru, on religious ground.
Even then, the first Pakistan Constitution had given equal rights to all religious groups. Muslims, Hindus, Christians , Sikhs and Parsis.
Pakistan became overtly Muslim, when Zia-ul-Haq became the President of Pakistan.
In his first televised speech to the country as Head of State Zia Had declared that:
“Pakistan which was created in the name of Islam will continue to survive only if it sticks to Islam. That is why I consider the introduction of [an] Islamic system as an essential prerequisite for the country”.
In 2013, a Bench of 17 Judges in Pakistan Supreme Court, again brought the issue of Secularisn,to the forefront.
Advani, tried to raise this critical question, in Pakistan at that time.
Dawood Ibrahim Issue
Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri , recently raised an issue, during his book release in Mumbai… that talks between India and Pakistan in Agra in 2001, failed mainly because the then Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani’s adamant demand of handing over Dawood Ibrahim to India, without any pre-condition .
In fact there were talks of Dawood’s surrender to Indian authority, on the conditions that he would not be tried for Mumbai Blasts and not to given Capital Punishment, which Advani strongly objected.
And now it is known that, RAW had made three attempts on Dawood’s life.
At one point the sharp shooters were ready to shoot at him, on his way to a Mosque, in Karachi’s Clifton area.
But at the last moment, it was aborted after senior Congress leaders reportedly intervened and stopped the plan!
By Deep Basu