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Indira Gandhi was aware of her life threat: Pranab Mukherjee

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New Delhi: Indira Gandhi knew her life was at risk when she decided to go for militarily storm the Golden Temple, President Pranab Mukherjee reveals in the second part of his memoirs released on Thursday.

“The Turbulent Years, 1980-1996” (Rupa) says that “criminals, smugglers and anti-social elements” had joined the Khalistan movement and recalls that the Golden Temple had become a safe haven for them.

The President writes that talks with the Akali Dal failed due to its rigid stance, and last ditch efforts were made shortly before “Operation Blue Star” – as the military operation was codenamed – was launched.

Even a few days before Operation Blue Star, an attempt was made to find a solution by holding a meeting with the Akali Dal leaders who were brought from jail to the lounge of the Chandigarh airport at midnight.

“PV Narasimha Rao, Cabinet Secretary Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib and I represented the government in that meeting. Unfortunately, the talks remained unsuccessful,” he says in the book released at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Vice President M Hamid Ansari.

By May 1984, it became increasingly clear that there was no alternative but military action to flush out the terrorists within the Golden Temple, particularly as the negotiations and discussions had not yielded the desired results.

The decision to storm the Golden Temple was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) but no official was present at the meet, Mukherjee writes.

Operation Blue Star was launched at the Golden Temple on June 3, 1984, with the army entering the premises.

Mukherjee then writes how Gandhi told him she was aware of the threat to her life.

“I still vividly recall Mrs Gandhi telling me, ‘Pranab, I know of the consequences.’  She understood the situation well and was clear that there was no other option.” he added.

“Aware that her own life was at risk, she took a conscious decision to go ahead in the best interest of the nation.”

Mukherjee defends the operation, calling the situation in Punjab at that time “abnormal”.

“It is easy to say that the military action could have been avoided. However, nobody really knows if any other option would have worked. Such decisions are always taken based on the conditions prevailing at that time. The situation in Punjab was abnormal.”

He adds that the “biggest tragedy” of the whole event was the “loss of Mrs Gandhi”.

Her last speech in Orissa, two days before her assassination, was prophetic. She said, ‘I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow… I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it’.

Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, at her Safdarjung Road residence in New Delhi by two of her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star.( IANS)(Picture Courtesy: wikipedia)

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Arun Jaitely Says Indira Gandhi Was No Different Than Hitler

The BJP leader said the 42nd Amendment diluted the power of High Courts to issue writ petitions

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Harsh Penal Proceedings For Illegal Swiss Bank Deposit Holders: Arun Jaitely
Harsh Penal Proceedings For Illegal Swiss Bank Deposit Holders: Arun Jaitely. flickr
Indira Gandhi Imposed Emergency. Flickr
Indira Gandhi Imposed Emergency. Flickr

Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday compared former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who imposed Emergency, to Hitler, stating that both used the Constitution “to transform democracy into dictatorship”. Jaitley, whose second blog of a three-part series coincided with the 43rd anniversary of imposition of the Emergency, also noted that unlike the German dictator, Gandhi went ahead to transform India into a “dynastic democracy”.

“Both Hitler and Gandhi never abrogated the Constitution. They used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into dictatorship,” he said. The BJP leader said Gandhi imposed Emergency under Article 352, suspended fundamental rights under Article 359 and claimed that disorder was planned by the opposition.

Jaitley said Hitler, who became the German Chancellor on January 30, 1933, got his President to invoke Article 48 of the country’s Constitution which gave emergency powers for the “protection of people in the State”. “The decree giving emergency powers put restrictions on personal liberty, free speech… The pretext for imposition of Emergency was that on February 27, 1933, German Parliament House, known as ‘Reichstag’, had been set on fire.

“Hitler claimed that it was a communist conspiracy to burn Government buildings and museums. Thirteen years later, in the Nuremberg trials, it was established that Reichstag fire was the handiwork of Nazis and Goebbels had conceived it.” He said Hitler arrested most opposition MPs.

“Indira Gandhi arrested most opposition MPs and, therefore, procured, through their absence, a two-third majority of members present and voting and enabling the passage of several obnoxious provisions through Constitution amendments,” Jaitley said.

The BJP leader said the 42nd Amendment diluted the power of High Courts to issue writ petitions, “a power which Dr. (B.R.) Ambedkar had said was the very heart and soul of India’s Constitution”. “They also amended Article 368 so that a Constitution amendment was beyond judicial review. There were a few things that Hitler did not do which Gandhi did.

 

“She prohibited the publication of Parliamentary proceeding in the media. The law which gave mandate to the media for publishing Parliamentary proceedings was popularly known as the Feroze Gandhi Bill,” he said. Since Hitler’s own election has been set aside, he had no change to make in this regard.

Also read: ‘1984 riots shut our doors to a better life’ (October 31 is the 32nd anniversary of Indira Gandhi’s assassination)

“Gandhi amended both the Constitution and the Representation of People Act. The Constitution amendment made the election of the Prime Minister non-justiciable before a court. “The Representation of People Act was retrospectively amended to insert those provisions so that the invalid election of Gandhi could be validated by changes in law.” He said amendments to the constitution made during Emergency were later reversed by the Janata Party government. (IANS)