Nowadays there is much ado in media and political circles about former President Dr. Abdul Kalam’s autobiography, “Turning Points”, in which, besides making many revelations of political implication, he has also revealed that after the 2002 riots in Gujarat he wanted to pay a visit to the state but the then Atal Behari Vajpayee administration was not in favour of it. And when in 2004 he made up his mind on his own to visit the state and informed the Prime Minister to this effect, the latter advised him to keep off it for the time being. The Prime Minister asked the President, “Do you consider going to Gujarat at this time essential?” Dr. Abdul Kalam writes that despite this apathy of the Prime Minister he made up his mind to visit Gujarat but he had to face many questions from political and bureaucratic circles besides the Prime Minister’s Office. However, Dr. Kalam did visit Gujarat, which according to him was his bounden duty. – People have been commenting from many angles on this revelation of the former President. Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, “It makes one wonder if there was any seriousness about the rajdharma statement...was it only for public consumption?” (The Times of India, July 1) Vajpayee made this rajdharma statement at a public meeting in Ahmedabad on 4th April, 2022.
What really happened
It so happened that at that time Mr. Vajpayee had just views on the Gujarat incident. Having heard the news of burning of a train bogey at Godhra on 27th February 2002, he made a very harsh statement against the movement of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and appealed to the Parishad to stop the temple movement forthwith. This statement of the Prime Minister was heard in the 4 p.m. bulletin of All India Radio on 27th February 2002 but it was never heard again. – The government of Gujarat and BJP circles severely reacted against his rajdharma statement. Therefore, addressing a meeting of a forum of the party at Goa only a week later, he made a provocative speech against Muslims, which pleased the supporters of Gujarat riots. – In fact Mr. Vajpayee is a free-thinking person; he did want to make his party liberal in certain issues; during his regime he did try to better the relations with Pakistan. But he had never been in a position to exert influence on the party. A weak aspect of his political career has been that he did not get rid of the party even after having failed in running it on his line; rather just to remain in the saddle he kept on following the line set by the hardcore leaders of the BJP.
One more surprising issue
One more surprising issue was there related to Gujarat. Lal Krishna Advani was Home Minister, and also an M.P. from Gandhinagar. He should have rushed to Gujarat after having heard the news of train burning but he did not budge. He sent Defence Minister George Fernandes, who was a BJP agent in Janta Dal (U). Even after that, whenever the issue of Home Minister’s visit to the state was raised, Mr. Advani sent Fernandes. He never visited Gujarat for this purpose. Prime Minister Vajpayee also failed in sending him. Certain commentators rightly drew a conclusion from this that the massacre in Gujarat was planned, and the burning of the train was also part of a conspiracy. – And on Advani’s not going to Gujarat I am reminded of PAC making unprecedented firing on the Muslims at Moradabad Eidgah during the very process of Eid prayers on a petty issue 30 years ago, many lost their lives; thereafter the mischief-mongers started doing their work. It was a very horrible one-sided riot. Indira Gandhi was at the helm of affairs at the Centre. Muslims wanted her to visit Moradabad; it was also the wish of Chief Minister V.P. Singh; but she kept on rejecting the idea. She went there after a pretty long time and after much ado. And thus it is clear that an official tour of a riot-hit place is out and out political.
07/ 07/12 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf