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How Subramanian Swamy Stood Up To The Might Of Indira Gandhi

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This is about a man, who left Indira Gandhi red-faced after she imposed the Emergency—Subramanian Swamy.

He is now hailed as “the hero of Emergency” because he was successful in staying out of jail, and able to dodge the police many times, at a time when thousands of people were arrested.

Long before the imposition of the Emergency, Swamy, living abroad, was contemplating his return to India teach, but Jayapakash Narayan’s visit to Harvard made Swamy determined to return. So, he started working with “JP” on a movement. But Swamy was quick to realise the futility of people’s movement unless JP enters politics. When he suggested it, JP not only rebuffed the idea but also asked Swamy to leave the movement. He called Swamy an Americanized Indian . In three to four years, when his movement didn’t bear result, he realised his fault. He brought Swamy back and apologised to him. In the meantime, Swamy also became very close to Nanaji Deshmukh of the RSS, and Morarji Desai, both of whom were arrested during the Emergency. In fact, Morarji Desai remained in jail for the complete period of Emergency—21 months.

A few hours before Emergency was declared, Swamy got a phone call from an SHO at five o’clock in the morning. The SHO ambiguously told Swamy that if he was at home, he (the SHO) would come to see him, and if he was not at home, he would be comfortable on a future date. Swamy understood it to be a hint. So, he packed up his clothes and went to his friend’s house. Police came to detain Swamy under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), but to no avail. Then Swamy camouflaged as Nanaji’s for quite some time. Of course, he had changed his appearance. Nanaji soon got arrested, and then he was taken care of by RSS people. It was during this time that Swamy realized the real strength of RSS. In fact, Indira Gandhi once said the sole reason she was defeated in 1977 was because of the RSS. During Emergency, RSS was operating from underground. They use to manage Swamy’s travels, his hideouts, and even communication with his wife.

Now, JP sent a message for Swamy telling him that he should be abroad, where his real power lay. So he went to the UK, and the US and got the attention of international media on what was happening in India. But he was disappointed there. People there considered all ‘developing countries’ as dictatorships, so they had no problem adding India to that list. It was then that Swamy thought of an idea, complex to execute, but if done, it would have far-reaching effort. It did actually!

Swamy took a plane to India, and in those days there were no direct flights. He took the ticket for Bangkok, so that his name wouldn’t appaer on the immigration list of the authorities. When he landed in India, it was three o’clock in the morning. There was no police. Only one constable. He looked at Swamy, who in turn, showed his Rajya Sabha pass, and the constable saluted him . Swamy straight away went to a hotel and informed his wife about his future plan in a way that would mislead anyone listening in. He dressed up as a Sardarji and went to his own house. He choose a time of ten o’clock in the morning. He then got in disguised as an electrician. There was change of police at 10:30 AM, and the previous police personnel forgot to tell the next shift that an electrician had gone inside a house. They were bored, and were playing cards. Why would they care for electrician? They are here to catch Swamy, who is abroad, and he is working day and night to expose and shame Indira Gandhi on a world platform. As a result of lax police, Swamy stayed in his own house for five whole days!

Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

Then, he decided to go personally see Indira Gandhi and her ministers. He dressed up in a kurta, took his wife along with him, and drove down to parliament. This time the police saw him, but they were playing cards religiously. Swamy entered Parliament just when the last roll call was going on. All the Congress Ministers were stunned. They couldn’t believe their eyes! After roll call, Swamy made a point of order, and he said “between sessions, democracy has died”. The Chairman dismissed the Point of Order and Swamy staged a walk out. Then he went to a mandir where he changed clothes, and became a Sardar again. At the railway station, security was beefed up and everyone was looking for a Professor of Harvard, last seen dressed up in , who had gall to face the might of Indira Gandhi. But that fellow got into the train and went off to sleep. A senior police official was travelling with him and he asked Swamy about his profession. Swamy said he was a Professor of Economics at Harvard. Later, he turned out to be IG of Police of MP.

This incident was celebrated worldwide and it got the attention of international media. And so, international institutions started building huge pressure on Gandhi to withdraw emergency. Not only this, Swamy also helped Morarji in making him PM, who abrogated all laws passed in the emergency.

This is the story of how Subramaniam Swamy left Indira Gandhi red-faced. She could not even catch a proclaimed offender!

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