Emergency, Gujarat and Narendra Modi
“…With wide scale rampant corruption and ruling of Allahabad High Court, Mrs. Indira Gandhi took moral responsibility and offered to resign. President accepted her resignation and….” This ought to have been the news on 25th June 1975, but alas nothing of that sort happened. On the contrary, Mrs. Gandhi decided to subvert the law and bend it to her individual caprice. EMERGENCY was imposed and unfortunately, India was pushed into its own ‘Dark Ages’ of 21 months. Most people belonging to my generation have just faint idea about emergency, courtesy our electronic media which finds conducting interviews of “activist” film stars on day of anniversary of emergency more important rather than letting people know to what extent power hungry Congress had abused power in those days.
Also it should be noted how names of many individuals and organizations who decided to dedicate their entire life to restore democracy against the autocratic rule of Mrs. Gandhi have been lost in pages of history. In fact after freedom movement, this was the biggest struggle where both political and non political forces united to defeat the regime of power hungry Congress. Today people likes Nanaji Deshmukh, Jayprakash Narayan, Nathalal Zagda, Vasant Gajendragadkar, Prabhudas Patwari etc. who mobilized people (it’s a long list of names) are getting faint from public memory with passage of time. They were the unsung heroes of emergency. Again “thanks” to the “secular” media. Gujarat too played an important role and it in fact it became role model for many who were against Emergency. It was the Navnirman movement of Gujarat, which made Congress realize that at least in Gujarat, their lust for power won’t last long. How few students of Morbi College opposed the hike in hostel food bill and how it became a state wide public movement in form of Navnirman is worth learning. In fact Gujarat proved inspiration for even Jay Prakash Narayan who started similar movement in Bihar. In those days ‘Gujarat ka Anukaran’ was popular phrase in Bihar. Also the demand of non-Congress forces in Gujarat to dissolve assembly in Gujarat also gave impetus to non-Congress forces in Bihar. It was because of this that even Indira Gandhi had once said that dissolution of Gujarat assembly proved costly for her. After the fall of Congress govt. of Chimanbhai Patel, elections were conducted in Gujarat (the Congress never wanted to conduct elections. It was efforts of Morarji Desai that Congress had to give in and conduct elections in state).
For the first time in Gujarat non Congress govt. was sworn in with Babubhai J Patel as the CM. The govt of Gujarat was known as Janta Morcha Sarkar. Here it is worth noticing that in those days also Indira Gandhi tried every move of deceit people of Gujarat. In fact on numerous occasions she sought votes by reciting those popular lines that ‘Main Gujarat ki Bahu Hoon’ (I am the daughter in law of Gujarat and so people should support me). Little did Mrs. Gandhi know that the land of Gujarat was not going to get swayed by her deceptive politics.
It was due to Janta Morcha govt in Gujarat that not many people faced the tremendous excesses of Emergency in Gujarat. Many activists had come and settled in Gujarat and the state became an island where people working for democracy could take refuge. Often the Union govt of the Congress blamed Janta Morcha govt of Gujarat of not cooperating. (Here not cooperating men that Congress wanted Gujarat govt to support it in dismantling anti Congress forces which the democratically elected Gujarat govt was not ready for). It was during Emergency that nation witnessed excesses of censorship.
Such was the abuse of power by Congress that Indira Gandhi even asked Gujarat CM Babubhai Patel to censor his speech which was likely to be aired All India Radio on occasion of 15th August. (In those days respective CMs used to send message to their states on 15th August through All India Radio) When all these movements were going on there was one RSS Pracharak who decided to work whole heartedly for restoring democracy in the country even at the risk of his life. It was none other than our beloved CM of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi. Like other RSS pracharaks, Narendrabhai was assigned the responsibility of making arrangements for the movement, gatherings, meetings, distribution of literature etc. In those days Narendrabhai was working actively with Nathbhai Zagda as well as Vasant Gajendragadkar. Ever since Emergency was imposed, it was only RSS that had the organizational setup and mechanism to thwart the excesses of power hungry Congress and all the pracharaks of RSS were actively involved for the just cause. Soon after emergency was imposed, Congress realized that RSS had the mettle and force to take on the unjust methods of Congress so displaying an act of cowardice, Congress govt decided to ban RSS.
It was during this that senior RSS leader Keshvrao Deshmukh was arrested in Gujarat. Narendrabhai was supposed to work with him as per the plan but however that could not happen due to arrest of Deshmukh. The moment Narendrabhai realized that Keshavrao was arrested, he escorted another senior RSS man Nathalal Zagda to safe place riding him on a scooter. Narendrabhai also realized that Keshvrao Deshmukh had some important documents and their retrieval is necessary to determine the future course of action. However since Deshmukh was in police custody it was almost impossible to retrieve those documents. However Narendrabhai took this challenge and planned to retrieve the same with the help of once swayaamsevak sister from Maninagar. As per plan this lady went to police station to meet Deshmukh and in the mean time, with Narendrabhai’s plan those documents were retrieved from police station. Also during emergency Mrs. Indira Gandhi had decided to censor the independent press. Several journalists were arrested under MISA and DIR. Also there was ban on many foreign journalists to come to India including famous British journalist Mark Tully. It appeared as if there was total blackout of true and correct information. Besides this several prominent political opponents were imprisoned. It appeared that dissemination of information would be impossible. But it was during this time that Narendrabhai and several RSS pracharaks took responsibility of fulfilling this herculean task.
Narendrabhai used an innovative way to spread information and distribute literature. Literature containing information about constitution, law, excesses of Congress govt. was put on train going from Gujarat to other states. It was a risky task since Railway Police force was instructed to shoot suspicious people. But technique used by Narendrabhai and other pracharaks worked well. Since RSS was banned and censorship was rampant, RSS decided to groom Swayamsevaks in their respective districts and also be part of Jan Sangharsh Samitis. It was at this time Narendrabhai felt the need to support the families of those Swayamsevaks who had decided to contribute fully for the movement. Narendrabhai took the initiative of identifying people who would support the families of Swayamsevaks.
Also since police was asked to crack down RSS activities, Narendrabhai conducted the movement remaining underground. It was during this time that confidential meetings were organized in Maninagar without letting the police know and Narendrabhai did this task wonderfully. While Narendrabhai was actively involved in underground movement against the excesses of Congress govt. he came in contact with Prabhudas Patwari who asked Narendrabhai to meet him at his residence. It was at the residence of Prabhudas Patwari where Narendrabhai met George Fernandes who was also involved in movement against draconian emergency. George Fernandez who had disguised as a Muslim met Narendrabhai and explained his plan to him. It was at this time Narendrabhai was instrumental in the meeting of Nanaji Deshmukh with that of George Fernandez. During meeting with Narendrabhai and Nanaji, he expressed his plan to launch an armed struggle against the excesses of Indira Gandhi but Nanaji and Narendrabhai categorically declined for this plan. According to them it was necessary that the movement should remain non violent howsoever may be the violent excesses of Indira Gandhi. In the days of Emergency, the govt. used All India Radio as its propaganda machine. Also there was another weekly which was taking side of Union govt. despite its horrendous acts. The public at large felt let down due to this attitude of censoring of information by AIR. It was at this time that peaceful public agitation was done outside Aakashwani where Jan Sangharsh Samiti used to do public reading of Constitution, law and other literature to inform people.
Like many other RSS pracharaks, Narendrabhai was also involved in providing support to Jan Sangharsh Samiti as well as mobilizing people since RSS was the only organization at that time which had the apparatus and structure to organize movement in planned manner. Even today we all get upset about the biased approach of media and its subservient attitude towards Congress. Emergency too witnessed abuse of power by Congress and use of information platforms by it for its selfish propaganda. (This reminds us how in Andhra Pradesh, All India Radio totally blacked out information about NT Ramarao who had defeated Congress in assembly elections. It was only when governor of Andra Pradhesh invited his for swearing in, nation realized about person called ‘NT Ramarao’.) Narendrabhai was also involved in supplying information to leaders who were imprisoned by the govt. He was master of disguise and despite there was risk of his arrest he used to disguise and went to prison and supplied crucial information to leaders in jail. Not even once could the police recognize Narendrabhai. In those days a magazine named ‘Sadhna’ decided to show courage against emergency and censorship. RSS setup proved very useful to make this magazine reach people and like other pracharaks, Narendrabhai was also involved in this.
In days of emergency pracharaks of RSS including Narendrbhai were instrumental in many movements against the excesses of the Indira govt. In those days RSS supported Sangharsh Samiti organized ‘MuktiJyoti’ yatra. It was bicycle yatra in which many pracharaks participated and took out this yatra on cycle and went from one place to another spreading message of democracy. Little do people know that this MuktiJyoti yatra was flagged of in Nadiad by none other than Shri Maniben Patel who was daughter of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. (This is the irony that where nation knows about every generation of Nehru-Gandhi family, whereabouts of family members of other stalwarts of freedom movement is little known. Today Congress which boasts of being the party which “participated” in freedom movement has ignored people like Maniben Patel). As KV Kamath rightly says in his book about Narendrabhai that it was in emergency, people became aware of brilliant skills of Narendrabhai. While he worked as selfless pracharak he also ensured that organization and other pracharaks don’t face financial problem.
As Kamath rightly puts that Narendrabhai not only organized for financial support to pracharaks but also ensured that true and correct information about excesses of emergence also reach to Indians living in other countries. Today we all have experienced the benefits of good governance of Narendrabhai but it is also important to acknowledge his contribution as a selfless karyakarta in emergency. Also Gujarat under Janta Morcha Sarkar did its best in upholding rights of common man. Today Nation is reeling under pressure and emergency like situation is being created in India and people of India look upon Gujarat and Narendrabhai for a new ‘Navnirman’ movement which will liberate us Indians from the corrupt regime of Congress party. I wish the near future marks the beginning of a new Navnirman…