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The Best Prime Minister the Congress Never Had

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The Best Prime Minister the Congress Never Had

~By Saeed Naqvi

Aaney wali naslein hum par

Fakhr kareingi, hum asaro,

Jub unko yeh khayal aayega

Humney Atal ko dekha thaa

(By way of poetic license I have replaced Firaq with Atal)

“Coming generations will remember us with awe,

When it dawns on them that we had actually seen Atal Bihari Vajpayee

I can claim a little more. I knew him. I say so with utmost modesty because there were many journalists who knew him better. But he had a knack of making a chosen few feel special with a smile here and gesture there. Confronting him was always a renewal because your opening question was generally greeted with stony silence, bordering on lack of recognition. Then would come a well thought through response to a question asked five minutes ago. There was no unprocessed response.

Exuberance was not his style but when moved by an idea, he could be demonstrative as at the Hyderabad House banquet when he put his arms around me. “Mainey aap ka lekh parha; kaee baar parha. Maen aapse sahmat hoon.” (read your column several times; I agree with you.)

It was not just a Prime Ministerial approval of a column but the warmth with which the appreciation was communicated. It would have been most unlike him to react to a dry piece on foreign affairs or national politics. What moved the sentimental lyricist in him wa a taboo I had broken by placing Hindu-Muslim issues in a context readers were unfamiliar with.

Communal riots had broken in Moradabad in 1982. I was Regional Editor for The Indian Express with headquarters in Chennai. Nihal Singh, the Editor-in-chief, asked me to “churn out” an edit on Moradabad.

Instead of writing something in a jiffy, I fell back on nostalgia, my life in my village, the cultural commerce which has held society together for hundreds of years. The new political class has taken its eyes off it largely because harmony does not easily translate into votes. In my piece, I listed Mohsin Kakorwi invoking images associated with Krishna to celebrate Prophet Mohammad’s birthday; Maulana Hasrat Mohani’s adoration for Krishna and Radha, in verse and gesture.

The Best Prime Minister the Congress Never Had

“Ahelia, who had turned to stone because of a curse, was restored to her former self by Your touch. From the animal kingdom You elevated an army worthy of Hanuman’s leadership.

Your reformed a wicked Chandal. “O’Lord Rama, when will You cast your benign eye on me?”

This is from the Sanskrit poetry of Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, one of Akbar’s courtiers.

The list is unending, particularly if you dilate on Hindu poets writing in a similar vein since the 17th century atleast. The latest Noha or a dirge for Moharram is:

“Kaash Hindustan mein hota janam Abbas ka,

Barh ke hum Hindu utha letey alam Abbas ka”

(We wish Imam Hussain’s brave brother, Abbas, was born in Hindustan.

Because when the enemy cut off his arms in battle, we Hindus would have raised his banner.)

No, I have not veered far away from Atalji. In fact I am sharing with you a slice of social history in which he was involved.

The late H.R. Malkani, editor of the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, was the first to write to me. “I salute you” he wrote, “Your piece brought tears into my eyes.” An interview was arranged with RSS ideologue Bhaurao Deoras. Malkani invited me to 10, Ashok Road, for tea with Atalji who was shaking his head in admiration. (Link to the piece http://naqvijournal.blogspot.com/2018/08/in-aftermath-of-moradabad-riots.html)

This gushing of admiration from the parivar was unnerving. Had I by writing one column unintentionally turned my back on my progressive friends? Had I opened myself to the charge of walking the illiberal path? But everybody, and his neighbour, from the Congress to the far left swear by our composite culture, Ganga-Jumni tehzeeb and so on. Do they like the concept only in its haziest outlines? Does the idea get tainted if the Parivar finds it wholesome?

Authors like M. Mujeeb who in his masterly survey, Indian Muslims, has left no aspect of syncretism untouched. But the large body of liberal, Muslim Intelligentsia, scholars, seminarists, writers, columnists had before 1982 chosen to ignore evidence of syncretism strewn all over, the Sufi belief system that Rama and Krishna were God’s prophets sent to India. This the liberal Muslims thought would expose them to the charge of “shirk” or apostasy among the wider, community. The Mullah, unencumbered by such considerations pushed his agenda diligently and with a sense of purpose. The results are there for all to see.

Vajpayee, familiar with Lucknow, grasped the significance of Indian syncretism. But the practical politician in him also saw the liberal Muslim’s hesitations. Not only does he have limited votes he is also intellectually uncertain. Vajpayee had a singular advantage over his peers: he was the most respected member of the Sangh and yet he had evolved along the path of modernism. He slid out of his RSS coil with deliberation; he did not shuffle out of it. If my mother’s test for dependability were applied to Vajpayee, he would emerge with flying colours. “Always mistrust a man without an obvious weakness” she used to say. As he came out of the RSS shadows, the romantic in Vajpayee was given measured play. He loved the good things of life. Heaven knows where he had developed a taste for fried prawns?

Towards the end of 2003 he made up his mind to resolve “regional quarrels”. Ofcourse, losing the 2004 election was a huge setback. But what rankled with him was the Pakistan, Kashmir imbroglio: a solution along the line of control was almost within grasp according his Principal Secretary, Brajesh Mishra.

Did Vajpayee have a model? K.K. Katyal of The Hindu, myself and one or two others trailed him on the first day he entered his South Block office when he was appointed the Minister for External Affairs in the Janata government led by Morarji Desai in 1977.

We asked him how he felt occupying his first office in South Block? He summoned up the poet in him. Misty eyed, he said he had difficulty controlling his emotions. “I cannot believe that I am about to occupy the chair which was once occupied by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.”

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Arvind Kejriwal says BJP started Operation Jhaadu to crush AAP

The Delhi chief minister alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu so that they do not grow big and become a challenge to them

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Arvind Kejriwal says BJP started Operation Jhaadu to crush AAP

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu to crush the Aam Aadmi Party since its popularity among the people is rising too fast. Kejriwal was addressing Aam Aadmi Party workers at the party office in New Delhi where he claimed the AAP’s bank accounts would be frozen after elections and they will be brought on the roads and left without an office.

The Delhi chief minister alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu so that they do not grow big and become a challenge to them.  He further added that through Operation Jhaadu, AAP’s big leaders will be arrested; they are being arrested, and in the coming days, Aam Aadmi Party’s bank accounts will be frozen.

Kejriwal pointed out that ED’s lawyer has already given this statement in court that soon after the election, AAP’s bank accounts will be frozen. He said that if they freeze their accounts now, then AAP will get sympathy. As a result after the election, ED will freeze AAP’s bank accounts. He said AAP’s party office will be cleared out, and the party will be brought to the streets.  Kejriwal said these are the 3 plans made by the BJP.

The Delhi chief minister claimed that no gold or money has been recovered from him, and the BJP, by creating false cases has got AAP leaders arrested. Kejriwal recalled that since the time he came to power in 2015, many allegations had been against him by the BJP. He said after the liquor policy scam has happened people are asking them if the scam happened then where is the money. He pointed out that in other places, when raids happen, notes and gold are recovered, but here nothing was found. Kejriwal asked the people that where is all the money? He said BJP had made fake cases and arrested AAP leaders.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

PM Modi says Congress is the mother of corruption, party was involved in coal and 2G scams

PM Modi said, Congress and JMM know nothing about development and their only job is to speak lies, loudly, again and again, and everywhere, their only objective is to do an the X-ray of poor people’s wealth and steal it.

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PM Modi says Congress is the mother of corruption, party was involved in coal and 2G scams

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election rally in Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur on Sunday (May 19) amid the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2024.  While addressing the election rally in Jamshedpur PM Modi said, people’s excitement told him what result will come on June 4 in Jamshedpur.

He recalled the time when he used to work as a BJP party worker for many years and used to ask people at that time they would come at 10 or 11 am to attend an election rally. But today he was witnessing a huge crowd here. The prime minister thanked all of them and said Lok Sabha election decides and strengthens the future of the country.

During a public rally in Jamshedpur, PM Modi said, Congress and JMM know nothing about development and their only job is to speak lies, loudly, again and again, and everywhere, their only objective is to do an the X-ray of poor people’s wealth and steal it. He further accused the Congress and JMM of snatching the reservation of SC and ST and the party leaders of the two parties are continuously abusing Modi every day. He asked if they are not able to think beyond this? He said the whole country has realised their truth.

PM Modi said, Congress and their ally parties, wherever they have governments, he challenged those chief ministers and this is not his political statement. The prime minister said Congress’s Shehzada keeps opposing business industries, businessmen and investments.

 PM Modi asked which businessman will go and invest in those states? What will happen to the youths of those states?  He said all investors who come to him and say that they would not go to these states because of their ideology against them. He said businessmen are verbally abused there and investors are forced to think that since Shehzada has this kind of thoughts, his ally parties would have the same thoughts as well. PM Modi added Congress is the mother of corruption and party was involved in coal and 2G scams as well

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Rahul Gandhi says Kejriwal will vote for Congress and he will vote for AAP

Gandhi said that if the prime minister comes in front of him, he would ask him questions about crony capitalism, unemployment, inflation, and farm issues.

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Rahul Gandhi says Kejriwal will vote for Congress, and he will vote for AAP

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was addressing an election rally on Saturday where he said that Arvind Kejriwal will vote for a Congress candidate and that he will vote for an AAP candidate in Delhi in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as a mark of strong bond between the two allies.

He further added workers of Congress and of AAP to work together to ensure the victory of their alliance in all 7 Lok Sabha seats in the national capital. In his address, Gandhi also challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a debate concerning the issues of India. The Congress leader said he is ready to debate with PM Modi whenever and wherever he wants, but he was confident that PM Modi would not come.

Notably, former Supreme Court judges Madan B Lokur and Ajit P Shah and senior journalist N Ram had written to Gandhi and PM Modi recently and invited them to a platform for a debate on the key Lok Sabha election issues. Gandhi said that if the prime minister comes in front of him, he would ask him questions about crony capitalism, unemployment, inflation, and farm issues.

The Wayanad MP said in his address that PM Modi has only worked for 22-25 people. He asked small businessmen from Chandni Chowk, what PM Modi had done for them? He said demonetization, GST, and other taxes had impacted small businessmen. He said billions of rupees of Adani and Ambani had been waived off. Gandhi said BJP is privatising railways and other PSUs as well.

The former Congress president questioned the prime minister about introducing the now-scrapped electoral bond scheme and further accused him of extorting money with the help of central agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Gandhi reffered to Delhi as the Brotherhood Capital and said that if people work together with love, there is progress.

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