'Varun Gandhi should be banned from fighting polls'
Noted columnist Khushwant Singh says he has no regrets about having supported former PM Indira Gandhi's "dictatorial" son Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency but wants his son Varun Gandhi, the BJP candidate from Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat, barred from contesting the polls.delhi Updated: Oct 09, 2009 13:49 IST
Noted columnist Khushwant Singh says he has no regrets about having supported former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's "dictatorial" son Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency but wants his son Varun Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat, barred from contesting the polls.
"Maneka Gandhi brought up Varun alone. I somehow could not believe the abusive words against Sikhs and Muslims attributed to him. One of the men opposing him was a Sikh. Sikhs have this ability to accept jokes about them but the remark 'uska bara baja denge' (I will fix him) is not the kind of thing to say in public. After all, most of his mother's relatives are Sikhs," Khushwant Singh said at the launch of his latest book in New Delhi on Tuesday.
"I hope Varun will be banned from contesting the polls and the people will throw him out. But I am afraid that he will win the seat," he added.
According to Khushwant Singh, Varun Gandhi's father Sanjay Gandhi, the heir apparent of Indira Gandhi till his death in 1980, was a misunderstood young man.
"He made a mess of the Maruti project. But he had his own way of doing things," the writer said, referring to the compulsory population control project.
"He had the makings of a dictator - there was a complex of dictatorship in him and India would have prospered faster had it been under him. But then, it would not have been a democracy. I have no regrets about supporting Sanjay Gandhi," he added.
Khushwant Singh's new book "Why I Supported The Emergency - Essays and Profiles" is a collection of some of his columns from the The Hindustan Times and The Tribune, which throw light on the events before and after the Emergency as well as his own observations and analysis of the realpolitik of the turbulent mid-70s.
"The Emergency was a synonym for obscenity. Men and women, who were the pillars of Emergency rule misused their positions to harass innocent people against whom they had personal grudges, try to distance themselves from their past in the hope that it will fade out of public memory forever," Khushwant Singh says in his book.
However, the writer claims he largely supported the Emergency.
"With some reservations, I support the Emergency proclaimed by Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975. Let me explain why. I concede that the right to protest is integral to democracy. You can have public meetings to criticise or condemn government actions. You can take out processions, call for strikes and closure of businesses. But there must not be any coercion or violence. If there is any, it is the duty of the government to suppress it by force, if necessary," he said.
Khushwant Singh's anthology includes write-ups on diverse topics from Indira Gandhi's government and the Nanavati Commission report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to the art of kissing and the importance of bathing.
It also features portraits of historical figures like Bahadur Shah Zafar, General Dyer, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Mirza Ghalib along with those of personalities he knew at a personal level.
But of all the people, the man that the celebrated columnist admires the most is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"Not because he is a Sardarji but because he is academically one of the most able prime ministers we have had, who has been very underrated. The man has ideals," said Khushwant Singh.