By Rahul Maganti:
Mr. Arun Jaitley,
This particular open letter is directed at your statements in an article which appeared on your Facebook Page. I am dismayed, for a politician of your stature carefully and cautiously ignored the facts that were inconvenient to accept and indefensible to argue from your vantage point. While I join you in your vociferous shout against the Emergency promulgated by Ms. Indira Gandhi, I am surprised at the way you were patronizing the anti-Emergency movement in favor of RSS/ABVP/Jan Sangh and failed to look at the sacrifices made by other Leftist and Socialist organizations. Moreover, you went on to subvert facts and wrote that ‘the Left either supported the emergency or only put up a soft opposition against it’. I write this open letter with a belief that when you read this, you will retract your baseless statements and in turn accept the double standards of RSS/ABVP/Jan Sangh. I hereby place my arguments and facts before you.
Your article sends across a feeling that the trio of RSS/ABVP/Jan Sangh were the saviors of democracy and the rest of the organizations were throttling the same. That was cognitive dissonance at its best, Mr. Jaitley, for I can’t assume that you never knew the fact that Balasaheb Deora, the third Sarsanghchalak of the RSS, after having had spent some time in jail, wrote to Ms. Gandhi hailing her and her 20 point programme. He also wrote to her requesting her to remove the ban on RSS. I hereby quote, with documented proof from letters exchanged between Mr. Deoras and Ms. Gandhi.
Balasaheb Deoras’ missives to Indira Gandhi during the Emergency stated: “I have heard the speech you delivered on August 15, 1975, from the Red Fort, Delhi on AIR. The speech was balanced and befitting to the occasion and has prompted me to write this letter to you,” he wrote on August 22, 1975. He concluded: “I beseech you to rescind the ban imposed upon the RSS.” He wrote on July 15, 1975: “The Sangh has done nothing against the government or society even remotely. There is no place for such things in the Sangh’s programme. The Sangh is engaged only in social and cultural activities.” Deoras wrote to Indira Gandhi again on July 16, praising her foreign policy and renewing his plea on the ban. Both letters were ignored.
At a time when the entire country was up against Mrs. Gandhi for imposing the Emergency because of the Allahabad High Court setting aside her election, Balasaheb Deoras in a letter from the Yerwada central jail dated 10.11.1975 said, “Let me congratulate you as five judges of the Supreme Court have declared the validity of your election”. This was at a time when the entire country was protesting against the manner in which Indira Gandhi manipulated the law and amended the Constitution to legitimize her election. In another letter from jail to Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Balasaheb Deoras writes, “…this is my prayer to you that you kindly try to remove the wrong notion of the Prime Minister about the Sangh, and as a result of which the RSS volunteers will be set free, the ban on the Sangh will be lifted and such condition will prevail as to enable the volunteers of the Sangh to participate in the planned programme of action relating to country’s progress and prosperity under the leadership of the Prime Minister.” This was an obvious reference to the notorious 20-point programme of Mrs. Gandhi during the Emergency. While the democratic masses of India were decrying this, the RSS was willing to accept Mrs. Gandhi’s leadership! Aren’t these double standards, honorable Finance Minister?
Mr. Jaitley, should I believe you when you tell me that you, as an elected President of Delhi University Students Union back then, are oblivious of these facts when you were making the above statements? Or, did you actually know the facts and tried to subvert them to use them to your advantage?
While politicians like Sharad Yadav of JDU and MA Baby of the CPI (M) graciously accept that this was a joint struggle of the Leftists, Socialists and the Jan Sangh alike, you were not even willing to give the credit due to people just because they had a different political lens, despite they spending the same amount of time in jail, some even more. Don’t you remember that your counterpart from JNU, DP Tripathi, a Socialist then and an NCP leader now, fought alongside with you as part of the anti-Emergency movement? Don’t you also remember that comrades from JNU were spearheading the protests in Delhi courting arrests and completely ruining their careers just like you? Could you regain your consciousness and remember that hundreds of them were arrested, amongst people like DP Tripathi, Sitaram Yechury and Prabir Purkayastha? Are you trying to belittle their sacrifices and protests just because you are in power?
Only the politically naÃ¯ve or illiterate would cast such aspersion against the Left and the CPI(M) in particular. Thousands of its workers all over the country were arrested, many of them spending the full period of emergency under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). The underground resistance organized by the CPI(M) and mass organizations played a major role in building the people’s movement for the restoration of democracy. In the process of building up of resistance to Emergency, as many as 1100 Left cadres were killed in West Bengal alone. It is on the basis of these struggles that the Left was able to earn the respect of the electorate which voted it to office in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura in 1977, when the Emergency was lifted. Even the CPI, which took a pro-Emergency stand revised its stand soon enough in its Bhatinda conference calling for protests against the emergency, recognizing its mistake. Mr. Jaitley, it’s a pity that you chose to ignore this fact to take away all the credit.
Mr. Jaitley, are we looking at an Emergency situation with the advent of Modi?
You must have heard the famous slogan, ‘Indira is India and India is Indira’ during the time of Emergency. Was the slogan given by Modi, ‘Vote for BJP, vote for Modi’ not in similar tune which the previous statement meant? Why don’t you dare go beyond the regular rhetoric of slogan mongering and communally loaded and polarized speeches which the people are bored, and ask such tough questions?
During the emergency, Ms. Gandhi had muzzled the Freedom of Expression of the Media and press. What is your Govt. doing now? Why is it arresting those who are criticizing Modi on social media? Why were students who are running a magazine in Kerala arrested for showing Modi in a list of negative figures along with Hitler?
Ms. Gandhi had prevented the appointment of/removed independent minded judges in the Supreme Court during the Emergency and would have them replaced by Congress nincompoops. What is your Govt. doing now? I guess you know what I am talking about. Yes, you are right Mr. Jaitley, I am talking about Gopal Subramaniam, who was vilified for not tiptoeing with your political line and JT Utpat, who was transferred after he opened a case against your Squadron Leader Amit Shah.
Ms. Gandhi, with the advent of Emergency projected herself as the supreme leader and wrestled a lot of constitutional powers. She had projected herself as the only good thing that could happen to India and exactly after 39 years, is Mr. Modi not doing the same? Mr. Jaitley, don’t you know that history, or for that matter the path of the society, was never determined by a single person but a culmination of deeds and acts (good and bad) of a lot of people? Would things have changed in history if a single person had not acted the way they did?
Ms. Gandhi cracked on criticism and sacked non-pliant constitutional authorities. She centralized all the authority in the PMO. What is your boss doing now by asking the Governors and members of NCW and NDMA appointed by Congress to resign? Isn’t your Govt. taking a similar path with many important portfolios being kept with Mr. Modi himself and the cabinet filled by open Modi bhakts who have chanted his name all throughout the election campaign? Why are critics and dissenters in your party like LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi silenced? Why are many important decisions like hiking railway fares and an ordinance on Polavaram dam taken bypassing the parliament?
Ms. Gandhi would have silenced opposition and resistance in the form of NGO’s, activists and journalists on the pretext of a ‘foreign hand’ and run smear campaigns against them. What is your Govt. doing differently? The recent IB report vilifying the Greenpeace Foundation which was running a movement against the corporate companies you are interested in, is an empirical evidence that organizations that stand by the masses are being hunted.
With this context, I would like to ask a few questions with the hope that I will neither be silenced nor arrested for raising inconvenient questions. Are we experiencing an ‘Emergency’ under a different garb? Under a different political party? Are we in an ‘Emergency’ state without the Govt. actually announcing one? Mr. Jaitley, this is far more a dangerous situation than the one created by Ms. Gandhi because we are parading as a democracy while living in an ‘Emergency’ like situation. The people are fooled and are made to believe that they are living in a ‘democratic and free India’ when the case is diametrically opposite. They will neither protest, as they did in 1975 because they are in an illusion that this is a ‘democratic and free India.’ They probably don’t know that they will be arrested for speaking their mind out on Social Media. With all these questions in mind, I could see your article as nothing but a hypocritical collection of words just to make your point driven, irrespective of the concern for truth and ideology.