Friday, October 30, 2015

When ‘anti-Dadri hero’ Pranab da found ‘JP Movement’ directionless !

“It is not the critics who count…..”  

Pranab Mukherjee does count ! We have also heard, every sinner or a saint has a past! So do I, so does President of India. 
Modesty- An Art too !!

In a previous blog I dealt a lot about respected President, Pranab Mukherjee. The call of natural justice demands that he should be given a chance to speak. So I thought of reading his mind vis-à-vis statesmanship. The best way would have been an interview; and which President will like to be interviewed by a blogger? So, one presumed it could be also okay to read President Pranab Mukherjee’s mind about state of affairs in the country -- through his latest book ‘The Dramatic Decade- The Indira Gandhi Years’ (published 2014).
I have been, however, selective in taking out the extracts. Obviously I would like to analyse them in the context of free speech, liberalism etc as Pranabda himself has lately tried to champion these causes.
Here’s a gem from Pranab da on the anti-Indira Gandhi – ‘JP Movement’ – which ultimately was responsible for imposition of Emergency -- if that's a yardstick of free speech is!
“…rationally speaking I could not support the movement. To me it appeared to be directionless. It was contradictory in that it was a movement fighting against corruption yet composed of people and parties whose integrity was not above board," wrote Pranab da, whom the media unhesitatingly called “the man for all seasons”. Here’s another statement of innocence from a man, who in later years in national polity emerged as permanent number 2 to Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. The wily wizard had this to say about his political understanding or the understanding about Emergency.
“…at that time (I was a junior Minister) did not then understand its (Emergency’s) deep and far-reaching impact”.
But look at the manner in the same breadth, a President in circa 2015 gets disturbed about Dadri and writers returning not so important awards/certificates, he also talks about  ‘positivity’ of Emergency.
“While there is no doubt that it brought with it some major positive changes – discipline in public life, a growing economy, controlled inflation, a reversed trade deficit for the first time…..,” Pranab Mukherjee writes in the chapter ‘Jayaprakash Narayan’s offensive’.

He admits on one hand both Indira Gandhi and Congress party had to cough out a “heavy price” for the “misadventure” called Emergency, on the other playing a risk-free Congressman, he terms suspension of fundamental rights, press censorship, large scale arrest of political leaders and extending the life of legislature by not conducting elections as “some instances of Emergency”. 

On this backdrop, he says, Emergency was “perhaps an avoidable event”.

So what was Dadri and some media-bytes by BJP leaders? Were these also not avoidable too? 
Next comes his assertion of loyalty to Indira Gandhi after her defeat in 1977 elections; - not that this blogger had any doubt about it. 
“There were many prophets of sanity and sobriety after the defeat (for Congress and Indira), but where were they earlier? The seeds of split (of Congress party) were sown….I made up my mind to remain with Indira Gandhi, come what may. I knew that I had no skeleton in my closet though mud was slung at me by media…”.
A renowned loyalist to the Congress dynasty especially to Indira Gandhi that he was, Pranab da also writes, “…I was then working with A P Sharma, C M Stephen, R Gundu Rao and Vasant Sathe, and we took an active role against Barooah (D K). We usually moved in a group and took direction from Kamlapathi Tripathi and Indira Gandhi herself”.
Now let me come to the operative part – how to draw a conclusion to this blog.
Madam and Man Friday
Certainly, the issue was never a dispute whether he has been a family loyalist or not. But he has also differed with the ‘family interest’ in 1984 after Indira Gandhi’s death – when perhaps the inexperienced ‘prince crown’ Rajiv Gandhi took Pranab Mukherjee as a potential threat! Mukherjee had to move out of the party but his regional outfit Rashtroya Samajwadi Congress (1986 to 1989) did not cut ice with the people of West Bengal and was folded sooner than the later. 

It was perhaps only a matter of time that Pranab returned to the party fold and when Rajiv Gandhi died, he held one of the first press conferences where he was asked whether he was in the race to succeed Late Rajiv. 
Personal ambition could not be hidden yet again as Pranabda had said, “I will cross the bridge when I get there”. 
None was inspired by his ‘statesman’ type remarks – and came in P V Narasimha Rao. But Pranab da was a permanent number 2 in Rao’s team both in the party forum and in the government. 
A large section of Indian 'secular' media generally tended to treat Pranab Mukherjee with kid gloves even when the country’s economy went from bad to worse during his stint as the Finance Minister in UPA-2. International press too found fault with Dr Manmohan Singh and labelled him an 'under achiever'.

The media has been too happy to get PRANAB DA'S sound bytes even at the cost of frequent scolding! 
As he headed a number of group of ministers (GoM) charged with resolving knotty issues, Mukherjee escaped all critical scanning of his ministerial work. He was also titled 'the other PM' and ‘GoM Mukherjee’ in political circles as he headed close to 33 groups of ministers on various key issues including on the Lokpal.

HE HOSTED SOME OF US TO A GRAND TEA PARTY ON 11 MARCH, 2015 at RASHTRAPATI BHAVAN and we were delighted and honoured !!

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