|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Sunday, November 28, 1999
braved police lathis to protect JP
is a bad word
THE months that followed the judgement of Mr Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court, setting aside the election of Indira Gandhi in June 1974, were traumatic. An anti-Indira agitation, led by Jayaprakash Narayan, was gathering momentum.
In the latter half of the year a massive procession, led by J P was taken out in Patna. As the procession wended its way through the roads of the state capital, the police made a lathi charge and, it is said, the Sarvodaya leader was the target. The final assault came when J.Ps supporters were escorting him to safety. One of the supporters sprang to his leaders protection, covered him and took all the lathi blows on himself. That man was Nanaji Deshmukh, senior leader of the erstwhile Jana Sangh, who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha last week. In a bid to protect J.P. one of his arms was fractured.
Later, J P himself and Morarji Desai, who became the Prime Minister heading the Janata Party Government, publicly praised the courage shown by Nanaji and, as a reward, offered him the Cabinet portfolio of Industry, but he spurned the overture. Nanaji had won in the 1977 election held after revocation of the Emergency with a handsome margin from Balrampur constituency of Uttar Pradesh. In 1980, he opted not only from the electoral fray but also politics. He has since then devoted himself to social and constructive work, lived in ashrams and never projected himself.
Now 82 and a bachelor, Nanaji, who has grown a snow white beard, returns to the limelight after a gap of 19 years but he does not propose to be in the hurly-burly of politics and plans to continue social work.
The veteran leader has developed a revulsion for politics after his experience of the Janata Party as one of its secretaries. So complete was his disillusionment with the rot that had set in political life that he recited a Sanskrit shloka: Kama- turanam, na bhagyam, na lajja (people with lust have neither luck nor shame) before relinquishing politics. He vehemently pleaded for retirement of politicians at 60. He did not join the BJP even though he was one of the founding fathers of the parent organisation the Jana Sangh. His membership of the Rajya Sabha is under the nominated quota reserved for literary figures, artistes and social workers.
Nanajis long and eventful career is full of strife and struggle. He lost his parents at an early age and was brought up by his maternal uncle. He lived in temples, got higher education at the Birla Institute in Pilani before becoming an RSS activist in the thirties. Though born in Maharashtra, the fields of his activities were Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Seeing his devotion, the then RSS chief sent him to Gorakhpur (U.P) as Pracharak, an exalted position in the hierarchy. He rose to the second post in the state unit of the RSS.
Nanajis services were loaned to the Jana Sangh when the party was formed in 1952. Among his contemporaries were the late Deen Dayal Upadhayaya and Atal Behari Vajpayee and Kushabhau Thakre, now the BJP President.
Confining himself to U.P, Nanaji plunged headlong into politics and was instrumental in formation of the Samyukta Vidhayak Dal (SVD) government in the state. It is said that he was able to wean away Chaudhary Charan Singh from the Congress to head the first non-Congress government in the most populous state. The present U.P Chief Minister, Ram Prakash Gupta, joined the SVD government as Deputy Chief Minister.
Nanaji was subsequently brought to Delhi as Organising Secretary and later made Treasurer of the party. It is believed that he was introduced to the industrial world of Bombay by K.M. Munshi, who was UP Governor in the late fifties.
The assassination of Deen Dayal Upadhayaya was a great blow to him and he single-handedly set up the Deen Dayal Research Institute in Delhi, devoted to strengthening the movement for constructive work in India, and did a lot of work towards the anti-poverty and minimum needs programme. Other areas of his work were agriculture and cottage industry, rural health and rural education. Nanaji assumed chairmanship of the institute after relinquishing politics and devoted all his time to building up the institute. He also published the journal Manthan (introspection) which was edited by K.R. Malkani, now a Rajya Sabha member.
Nanaji did a lot of social work in Gonda the most backward district of U.P. The motto of his projects was: Har hath ko denge kaam, har khet ko denge paanee.
He finally settled down
at the picturesque Chitrakoot, a holy place on the
borders of U.P. and Madhya Pradesh and established a
university there devoted to research in ayurveda, cattle
breeding and rural reforms. Even though Nanaji is now a
member of the Rajya Sabha, he proposes to devote his time
to further strengthening the institution. Those who have
visited Chitrakoot are greatly impressed by his work.
While cash-strapped state governments are initiating austerity drives and, by and large, celebrations are being shunned in the aftermath of the Orissa cyclone, the Delhi outfit of the Punjab government seems to be on a spending spree.
A dinner was hosted last Wednesday at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) to celebrate Punjab Pavilions participation in the Trade Fair. The IHC, which is emerging as the most popular party joint for Delhis upper middle class, unlike the neighbouring India International Centre (IIC), has an expensive private caterer who services all the parties. The cost of hosting a party at the IHC is more than double of the official per head cost of doing so at Punjab Bhavan on Copernicus Marg, which has a reasonably good inhouse catering service run by the Hospitality Department of the state government. (In the present case, liquor flowed freely: and IHC is not known as a cheap watering hole. Moreover, by avoiding Punjab Bhavan as the venue, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badals directive against serving liquor too was flaunted with impunity.)
The dinner, invitations for which were put out in the name of the states Principal Resident Commissioner, was naturally a grand affair. Only, the host, Dr Dinesh Chandra, was missing for the first half of the event even though a majority of the invitees were from the media and important functionaries of the Central government.
The host was seen walking in after most of the guests had settled down. When it was pointed out that some of the guests had already enquired about him and left, Dr Dinesh Chandra, a 1964 batch IAS officer who has not found a posting as a Secretary at the Centre (and therefore his posting in the Punjab Bhavan of New Delhi), is understood to have pointed out that his absence was immaterial as his representative was present. And the representative was none other than R.S. Kamboj, a retired Captain of the Indian Army who has now majored as General Manager of the Copernicus Marg outfit.
While the guests who turned up were in adequate strength, one wondered at the absence of the high-profile Media Adviser to the Punjab Government, Mr I Ramamohan Rao, who also held the rank of Secretary to the Government of India and adviser in the PMO.
Old timers recalled the warmth of Mr Shyam Sunder Dawra and Dr Chandras immediate predecessor, Mr Amitabh Pandey. These officers were known for their public relations skills. Alas, times have changed and apart from throwing austerity to winds, even politeness and normal courtesy seems to be alien to the present incumbents of Punjabs local face in Delhi.
Race for Rajya Sabha
With over a month to go for some vacancies to be caused in the Rajya Sabha, lobbying has started in political parties to fill them up.
In Delhi, of the three seats the National Capital Territory has in the Council of states, the Congress is certain to have all three for the party. Last time the BJP had them all. Of them, Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra is now an MP in the Lok Sabha, while the other two Mr K.R. Malkani and Mr Om Prakash Kohli are due to retire in January.
Already the names of AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni, former Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Jag Parvesh Chandra and Mr M.L. Fotedar are doing rounds as being the possible nominees of the Congress party.
Then there is also talk of Dr Karan Singh, who decided to quit his Rajya Sabha seat after joining the Congress, as being a strong contender. Among the other aspirants are Mr M.M. Agarwal, a senior party leader who was denied a ticket in the recent elections, and media baron Vishwa Bandhu Gupta. It remains to be seen who gets the nod.
Meanwhile, there is another vacancy coming up with Mr Sushil Barongpa, MP from Himachal Pradesh, also due to retire around the same time. With the BJP firmly in the saddle in the hill state, alignment has already begun among the leaders of the state.
According to the grapevine, if Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has his way the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Arun Jaitley, may enter Parliament as a Rajya Sabha MP from Himachal Pradesh, otherwise once again it could be senior BJP Vice President Krishan Lal Sharma, whose candidature is said to be backed by the Union Minister for Public Distribution, Mr Shanta Kumar. Call it a tug-of-war between a former and present Chief Minister.
No last-minute hiccups
Unlike the previous occasion, there was no last minute change of mind by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). The induction of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa into the Vajpayee Cabinet was well-planned and executed smoothly.
If the last time Mr Dhindsa was sounded for the job by a letter from the Cabinet Secretary, this time he got the message from none other than the Prime Minister himself.
Mr Dhindsa, who missed the bus last time on account of internal problems within the SAD, was sounded by the Chief Minister at least a day in advance. He was summoned to Delhi by Saturday hours before Mr Parkash Singh Badal had called on the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, intimating the BJP leaders of the SAD nominee.
In fact, if the recent expansion took place it was more on account of the eagerness of the Prime Minister to give representation to a Sikh in the Union Cabinet. This opened the door for others too, albiet in a small way.
Not aware of the impending expansion on Monday, Mr Dhindsa had sought appointment with the Prime Minister as a courtesy after the Chief Minister sounded him but to his surprise, Mr Vajpayee whose engagement schedule was booked heavily, asked the Akali MP to present himself at Rashtrapati Bhavan at 5 pm on November 22 and the rest, as they say, is history.
BJP President Kushabhau Thakres visit to Orissa soon after the cyclone struck coastal areas there moved him so much that he decided to do more than just ask for the dismissal of the Giridhar Gamang-led Congress Government there.
Mr Thakre for once put his position to good use and decided to auction the several gifts that he has been receiving ever since he became the President of the ruling party. He chose Ghaziabad in the outskirts of the Capital to auction the gifts and his novel idea was successful in more than one way. Uttar Pradesh politicians flocked to the auction site to bid as high a price as possible for the goods offered by Mr Thakre for sale. A successful bidder had the satisfaction of not only providing much needed relief for the cyclone victims but his gesture also brought him into the good books of the party President.
The result was Mr Thakre collected a whopping Rs 9,01,830 for his effort. Not only that, the unsuccessful bidders came forward with their own offers to please the President. At the end of the day Mr Thakres efforts yielded a sum of more than Rs 15 lakh in cash and material. For once nobody will accuse the BJP President of misusing his position in the party.
Tobacco it seems is not injurious to the Trade Ministers health. The Union Governments anti-smoking policy notwithstanding, Indias Commerce Minister, Mr Murasoli Maran, has come out in strong defence of a beedi manufacturer who has become a victim of US trade laws.
The USA had banned the import of beedis made by a major Indian manufacturer on the ground that child labour is used in the manufacture of the item. The US Customs Commissioner issued an immediate detention order on the beedi consignments after a US TV network aired a film on exploitation of child labour.
Indias sees the US action as a message for the forthcoming Seattle WTO talks. The USA appears to be indicating that it would be unrelenting on the issue of labour standards despite the reservation of the developing countries. In the coming days India is likely to argue that while it followed the conventions of the International Labour Organisation, the USA was trying to bypass the organisation and impose its unilateral rules in a bid to protect its domestic industry. The whole fight is about trade ethics. But then what happened to the injurious effects of tobacco?
A Delhi message dated the 13th instant brings the sad news of the passing away of Bi Amman, mother of the Ali Brothers, at 2 a.m., after an illness of several days. By her selfless devotion to the cause of the country and the example of self-sacrifice which she set by undertaking long, troublesome journeys to cheer up and strengthen the spirits of younger people, and by exhibiting ideal courage and fortitude during the long term of incarceration of her dear, brave sons, this veteran lady, very aptly known as Lady Mother, had during the past several years been an inspiring source of courage, selflessness and self-sacrifice for all workers in the national field.
A staunch believer in
Hindu-Muslim unity, she knew no rest when, during the
absence in jail of her sons, she saw that unity was not
menaced in the Punjab and elsewhere. We offer our
heartfelt sympathy to the Ali Brothers in their hour of
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