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RSS backed Emergency, reveals former IB chief

RSS backed Emergency, reveals former IB chief
A file photo of Indira Gandhi.
NEW DELHI: Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief T V Rajeswar has claimed the existence of a highly controversial “missing” chapter in the memoirs of M O Mathai, the private secretary of Jawaharlal Nehru, in which he allegedly wrote about his purported intimacy with Indira Gandhi.

In an interview to a private TV channel, Rajeswar reveals that in 1981, when he was IB director, M G Ramachandran, then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, gave him the chapter. Rajeswar in turn handed the chapter to Indira Gandhi. She received it without comment.

When asked by the interviewer if Rajeswar had himself read the chapter, he said “I did not. There was no need for reading it. There was no discussion.” The details of the episode form part of Rajeswar’s recently published book “India The Crucial Years”.

The “missing” chapter he mentions was apparently removed before the publication of Mathai’s memoirs “Reminiscences of the Nehru Age”. According to the publisher’s note on page 153, the chapter was withdrawn by Mathai himself and there has been speculation that whether such a chapter existed at all. Mathai, who had served as Nehru’s private secretary between 1946-1959, was forced to resign when corruption charges had surfaced against him.

Rajeswar while speaking about his book, also claimed that Indira Gandhi’s decision to impose the Emergency in 1975 “was not made in consultation with the IB or the home ministry.” The former IB chief said the IB was completely taken by surprise and found out about the imposition of Emergency from the radio.

Rajeswar also reveals that though he cannot be sure if Indira Gandhi “had herself prepared the list (of political opponents to be arrested), but it was drawn up at the Prime Minister’s residence.” He believed that she was also aware of the excesses of the emergency as she got regular quarterly and half-yearly feedback from the IB. He however said that, Indira Gandhi didn’t fully realize the seriousness of what was happening.

Rajeswar was the senior most joint director of the IB specifically dealing with political parties and elections at the time.

Rajeswar reveals that Balasaheb Deoras, then Sarsanghchalak of the RSS, “quietly established a link with the PM’s house and expressed strong support for several steps taken to enforce order and discipline in the country.” Rajeswar says in his interview to the channel, “RSS supported the Emergency. They were not opponents. They not only supported but they wanted to establish contact with Mrs Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi.” However, Indira Gandhi refused because, according to Rajeswar, she didn’t want to seen as being close to the RSS.

Speaking about the Sikh unrest of the early ’80s, when he was director of IB, Rajeswar alleges then Punjab chief minister Darbara Singh and then home minister Giani Zail Singh would often shield firebrand Sikh preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from police action. He says she suspected this but did not have concrete proof.

Rajeswar also said that in 1984 just one week before Operation Blue Star, he strongly advised Indira Gandhi against the move. He says: “I said India would face the biggest law and order problem since partition”. However, she went ahead and Rajeswar believes she and the government didn’t appreciate the likely consequence of attacking the Golden Temple. Rajeswar also claims that during Operation Bluestar the use of tanks and choppers took Indira Gandhi by surprise. He says, the Army did not inform her of as they may not have been aware that they needed to specifically ask the Prime Minister before deploying them.


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