Saturday, March 29, 2008
Advani’s book – a pack of lies With the excerpts and reviews published as soon as Advani started one more yatra to peddle his book personally by taking the opportunity to impose on the hospitality of even his political rivals, a general idea could easily be made that Advani has made a Goebblean attempt to package a pack of lies and sell it as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Those who have observed Advani under media glare for decades past, would not need any persuasion to believe how spin doctoring comes easy for all Sangh Parivar wordsmiths and in particular to L. K. Advani. One can always depend on him to come out with most original contortion of the most simple and obvious fact, as long as it serves his need of the hour. His account of Ayodhya and Modi’s Gujarat carnage is the first of the many manipulations to hoodwink the gullible. His role in sabotaging Musharraf-Vajpayee Agra talk, is so well-known to the people of India, who were glued to TV channels and were practically present in all the meetings, is another black deed that he keeps denying. His reasoning for shooting down the agreement between Musharraf and Vajpayee is an lame excuse, in as much as, it was in effect an ego problem with him, for the agreement to have been approved by Vajpayee, without his intervention. Insisting on Musharraf agreement on terrorist camps was like putting the cart before the horse. Advani was intelligent enough to know that could never be swallowed by Musharraf. His denial of any knowledge as to how Jaswant Singh went on a plane journey to deliver notorious terrorists from our jails to Kandahar in exchange for hijacked Indians is another bland lie. The then Defense Minister and Convener of NDA, has publicly contradicted Advani account, by asserting Advani was in the meetings when Kandahar was approved. J&K’s Farooq Abdullah has come out very strongly against Advani’s assertion that he backed down on autonomy resolution in the J&K Assembly. He says it is untruth — a polite way of saying — it is a lie. Following is a book review from Sardar Khushwant Singh, who happened to be one of the earliest gullible to hold Advani as a straight person. By the end of his review of Advani’s book, he ends it with a short but devastating verdict: Perish the thought ….. (If Advani should ever become the Prime Minister of India): http://www.outlookindia.com/section_v5.asp?secname=Books
|Ghost Burial That Wasn’t to Be|
|A must-read memoir it sure is. But if you are looking for answers, there are none.|
MY COUNTRY, MY LIFE
by L.K. Advani
Rs 595; Pages 986
|There is some justification for his publishers describing L.K. Advani’s memoirs as a “must-read”. Advani redrew the political and communal map of India. Whether it was for the good of the country will be a matter of debate for years to come. It’s a massive tome running up to nearly a thousand pages. I thought it best to read his views on matters which were of vital interest and so decided to consult the index and see|
if it had something to say about me. I do not have an ego problem, just that for a brief period I played a role in promoting his career. Advani writes: “Khushwant Singh became a good acquaintance of mine after the Emergency. I admired his writing and substantial scholarship on many subjects. He in turn admired our party for its work in fighting the carnage in Delhi in 1984, in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. However, our relationship soured after the Ayodhya movement when he became quite critical of me.”
It is a fair assessment but something is missing. After the 1984 pogrom of the Sikhs when Advani stood for election to the Lok Sabha, I signed his nomination paper. The Sikhs were determined not to vote for the Congress because its leaders and cadres were involved in the killings and yet not sure of the BJP. They were undoubtedly influenced by the publicity given to my signing Advani’s papers. Advani won and came to thank me. I visited Advani’s home a few times. I was charmed by the congenial atmosphere. They watched Hindi films, welcomed anyone who dropped in. I felt comfortable. I also admired him. There was not a breath of scandal about money, nepotism or extra-marital affairs about him. He was a puritan: he neither drank, nor smoked nor womanised. He was clear-headed and modest. My disenchantment began after he launched his rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. I turned critical. At a public meeting at which I was presiding, he was the chief guest. He was then home minister and arrived with a retinue of Black Cat commandos. I said on his face, “Mr Advani, you sowed the dragon seeds of hatred in this country….” And much else. In his address, he said he would answer my charges at a more appropriate time. I hoped to find them in his autobiography; they are not there. I turned the pages to see what he had to say about Mahatma Gandhi who remains the national touchstone to test political and moral decisions. He tells us that the RSS held Gandhi in high esteem and he, in turn, praised its military discipline. When Gandhi heard that cadres of the RSS were also involved in communal riots and took on Muslim hoodlums in street battles which erupted periodically, he sent for the sarsanghchalak. The latter explained, “If we object to the conduct of some Muslims in our society, it is not because they follow Islam but rather because of their lack of loyalty to India. The partition of India has proven us right. Therefore to call the RSS anti-secular is to show one’s ignorance of what secularism stands for and what the RSS stands for.” Advani adds: “This was my first lesson in secularism. I was twenty-one then.” Gandhi did not pursue the matter further. He might well have asked: “If the RSS is secular, how many Muslims and Christians does it have on its rolls?” Advani was 14 years old when he enrolled himself as a worker of the RSS in Karachi. His views on secularism are naive beyond belief. He tries to equate Gandhi’s concept of Ram rajya in which all religions will be treated with equal respect—sarva dharma samabhava—with the RSS concept of Hindutva, “a noble concept,” according to him. The RSS was suspect in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. His assassin had been a member of the organisation. Advani tells us that on Gandhi’s murder the RSS was ordered to observe 13 days of mourning.
The gesture did not help: the RSS was declared illegal and many of its leaders put behind bars.
The one event that pitchforked Advani to the centrestage and reshaped India’s politics was his yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya leading to the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. He, more than anyone else, sensed that Islamophobia was deeply ingrained in the minds of millions of Hindus and it only needed a spark to set it ablaze. The choice of Somnath as a starting point and Ayodhya as the terminal were well-calculated. Mahmud Ghazni had destroyed the temple at Somnath; Ayodhya was believed to be the birthplace of Sri Ram (the year of his birth is unknown). It was bruited about that a temple to mark the birthsite had stood there till Babar destroyed it and built a mosque over the ruins. This is disputed by historians and the matter was being pursued in law courts. Advani ignored legal niceties and arrived with great fanfare at the site. Since he was determined to build a new Ram temple at the same spot, the fate of the mosque was sealed. What happened there on the fateful day was seen on TV by millions of people round the globe. In his book, Advani claims that breaking the mosque was not on his agenda and he actually sent Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati from the dais to plead with the breakers to desist. If that is so, why were the two seen embracing each other and rejoicing when the nefarious task was completed? We don’t have to wait for the verdict of the Liberhan Commission to tell us what happened: we saw it with our own eyes. The destroyers were Shiv Sainiks and members of the RSS and they boasted about what they had done. Advani records the jubilation that followed at the site and along his triumphal return to Delhi. Repercussions were felt over the world: Hindu and Sikh temples were targeted by irate Muslims from Bangladesh to UK. Relations between Hindus and Muslims have never been the same in India. There were communal confrontations in different parts of the country: the serial blasts in Mumbai, the attack on Sabarmati Express in Godhra and the massacre of innocent Muslims in Gujarat can all be traced back to the fall of the Babri Masjid. However, the BJP reaped a rich electoral harvest, won many of the elections that followed, and eventually installed Atal Behari Vajpayee as prime minister and L.K. Advani as his deputy. He is now their candidate for the top job and asserts that he will not allow Babri Masjid to be rebuilt.
The one time Advani faltered in his steps was when he visited Karachi the last time and praised Jinnah’s speech to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, as “a classic exposition of a secular state”. It might well have been so but it was delivered at a time when millions of Hindus and Sikhs were being driven out of Pakistan with slaughter and an equal number of Muslims driven out of India. It was the bloodiest exchange of populations in which over a million died and over 10 million were uprooted. Advani’s eulogy must have pleased Pakistanis; it was badly received in India, particularly by his RSS and BJP colleagues. He was severely censured and asked to step down from the leadership of the party. It seemed as if his political career was at an end. He bounced back and within a year was again on the centrestage.
What now stands between Advani and his ambition to become prime minister is the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh partnership. He is doing his worst trying to create a rift between them. He continues to harp on the issue of her Italian birth, her tardiness in taking Indian citizenship and being close to a fellow Italian, the scamster Octavio Quattrocchi. He has described Manmohan Singh as a nikamma (useless) prime minister because the seat of power is not 7, Race Course Road, where he lives but 10, Janpath, where Sonia and her family reside.So far his attempts to create a rift between the two have flopped. Sonia has proved an astute politician who has so far not made a single wrong move. Likewise, Manmohan Singh has played his role as a nominee prime minister with skill. He has many more plus points to his credit than any of his predecessors. The partnership has worked well with Sonia looking after political matters and Manmohan the administrative. The country has prospered. Advani has quite a lot to say about Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat. He exonerates him from the charge of allowing the massacre of innocent Muslims following the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra. It is a symbiotic relationship: Modi helps Advani win elections from Gandhinagar in Gujarat; Advani stands by Modi whenever his conduct comes under question from the higher echelons of the BJP. The importance of Advani’s memoirs is not in their literary quality but in the possibility of the author becoming India’s man of destiny. Either we remain a secular state envisaged by Gandhi and Nehru or we succumb to Advani’s interpretation of it and become the Hindu Secular Socialist Republic of Bharatvarsha. Perish the thought.
You be the judge.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai