In the fifth volume of the series of its history the Congress party has made available to a contemporary daily an advanced copy of the book. The volume carries an article by veteran journalist Mr. Inder Malhotra who was earlier the political editor of The Statesman and later a resident editor of the Times of India. Departing from traditional Congress sycophancy Mr. Malhotra has authenticated the widely held belief that the late Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was actively promoted by former President Zail Singh and Sanjay Gandhi with the consent of Indira Gandhi. At that time while the Congress headed by Indira Gandhi ruled the centre, the Akali party governed Punjab. Bhindranwale was promoted by the Congress in order to divide moderate Sikhs led by the Akalis from the fundamentalist fringe encouraged to support Bhindranwale. Thereby Mrs. Gandhi sought to weaken and oust from Punjab the Akalis. It may stun people that in the pursuit of a short term political goal Mrs. Gandhi could sink to such a low political level.
|Today as the nation sinks in graft, totters with insecurity and helplessly sees governance and the political system crumbling, knowing the truth about our recent past could be the first step to reclaim our future.
In fact, Mrs. Gandhi did much worse. She actually gave the go ahead to the demand for a Khalistan state in order to further her political design. This scribe was privy to sufficient circumstantial evidence to conclude this. At that time before the formal demand for Khalistan had been made the late Jagjit Singh Chauhan accompanied by Mr. Balbir Singh Sandhu visited my residence to acquaint me with their proposal. They said that they intended to formally announce the formation of Khalistan from the precincts of the Golden Temple. They asked me for my views. I told them that it was a daft idea. Demographic distribution and geography rendered the idea impractical and irrational. Instead, I said, a stronger case could be made to unify entire Punjab extending from Peshawar to Ambala! The discussion ended and the two left. If memory serves me right I referred to this meeting in a column written subsequently for the Sunday Observer published from Bombay.
Later, Chauhan again contacted me. He said he was going to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with whom he wanted to discuss his proposal. He wanted to consult me before he met her. On the evening of his meeting with Mrs. Gandhi he fixed an appointment with me. He said he would be outside the gate of the Taj Man Singh hotel where he would later meet someone else. I drove to the hotel and he was waiting outside the gate. This was at the exit gate of the hotel adjacent to Kapurthala House which was then being used as a guest house by the Punjab government. We sat in the car and talked briefly. He said he would persuade Mrs. Gandhi to support him. I listened with polite disbelief and we parted. I reversed my car to return the way I had come. He started walking very slowly, hesitantly, towards the Taj Hotel. His slow, halting gait intrigued me. After driving some distance I pulled my car to the side and looked back. He was entering Kapurthala House where possibly he was staying as a guest!
A short while later Chauhan and Balbir Singh Sandhu as they had stated announced the formation of Khalistan from the precincts of the Golden Temple. They distributed at that time either printed currency notes of independent Khalistan or a postage stamp, I forget which. The media covered the event. I had no reason to disbelieve Chauhan’s meeting with Mrs. Gandhi. Despite the announcement of a sovereign Khalistan the central government headed by Indira Gandhi was curiously constrained to take appropriate action.
There is overwhelming evidence that contrary to her popular image Mrs. Gandhi took decisions betraying a total lack of political sense. There is much evidence to prove this. Her disastrous handling of the aftermath of the Bangladesh war, her restoration of diplomatic ties with China after Beijing had rejected the Colombo proposals, her stupid promotion of the LTTE to embarrass Sri Lanka, and other political events testify to her political mediocrity or worse.
Whether her political follies arose from a mediocre mind or from some other unknown external political factor, history has yet to determine. But it is important for a new generation of Indians operating in the information era to acquaint themselves with the truth of their post-independence history. They deserve to know the truth about India’s iconic leaders, warts and all. Today as the nation sinks in graft, totters with insecurity and helplessly sees governance and the political system crumbling, knowing the truth about our recent past could be the first step to reclaim our future.