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Monday, August 31, 2009

Same Fact, Two Stories

Here are two stories of the same fact about the sequence of Modi's offer to resign, and how he continued, after the self-serving coverage by p-sec media after Gujarat's post-Godhra-massacre riots in 2002.

First, Jaswant Singh recalling a conversation, on flight with Sri Atal Vajpayee, Advaniji, Shourie, and himself, about status of Narendra Modi seeming to implicate Advani blocking Vajpayee's decision on Modi. (It is just one in a series of attacks Jaswant lead on Advani in the interview and elsewhere. Apparently all of that won't have mattered if Jaswant's book was welcome by Advani and BJP!)

Shekhar Gupta: It’s come so tryue (sic) now

Jaswant Singh: After a few moments of silence he said, “Gujarat ka kya karna hein?” because the incidents in Gujarat were….

Shekhar Gupta: The riots were in fact were very fresh at that point

Jaswant Singh: They were burning in the hearts of the people

Shekhar Gupta: That’s right

Jaswant Singh: Both ways. The burning of the bogie, the killing of other citizens, the sectarianism of it, the communal nature of it. So there was silence for some time and when we said Gujarat ke bare mein sochna chaahiye. Atalji had a way of never directly, other than me, he often told me, aisa hoga. I would disagree ye teek nahin, aap galat kar rahe hein, aapko teek nahi laga, tho kyo kehte ho mujhe. Because what I am saying is right. He would agree. There was silence…

Shekhar Gupta: So he allowed you to disagree with him

Jaswant Singh: He always allowed me to disagree. Even in cabinet meetings, in cabinet committee on security, I don’t what to say those issues I disagreed on because that is a different matter altogether. But on this particular issue, then Advaniji went to the bathroom or something…

Shekhar Gupta: on the plane..

Jaswant Singh: yeah on the plane…

Shekhar Gupta: It’s a tiny 737

Jaswant Singh: It’s not very big. Atalji then said, poochiye kya karna which he implied I went and asked Advaniji. Advaniji said only one phrase bawaal kada ho jaayega

Shekhar Gupta: You mean there’ll be rebellion in the party if you sack Modi

Jaswant Singh: Bawaal means commotion. Bawaal kada ho jaayega party mein. But when we landed there was already a certain kind of atmosphere prevailing so this issue, on that occasion, did not get taken

Shekhar Gupta: So would it be correct to say that Mr Vajpayee would have been inclined to act on Modi but Mr Advani said if you act there would be commotion in the party which may be uncalled for so lets not do it

Jaswant Singh: Factually, factually, to the best of my recollection, yes, this was the conversation and this would be the interpretation

Shekhar Gupta: So Vajpayee would have liked to sack Narendra Modi as Chief Minister

Jaswant Singh: I might not use the word sack

Shekhar Gupta: to take action…

Jaswant Singh: But certainly for the party to reflect, take some corrective measure

Shekhar Gupta: But Mr Advani came to Narendra Modi’s defence

Jaswant Singh: I think that is correct, that is correct

Shekhar Gupta: Right

Jaswant Singh: That is correct

Second, Arun Shourie recalling the same incident indicating that Advani agreed, along with the other three, that Modi should be asked to resign during the same flight.

Shekhar Gupta: And that call would have been to do what?

Arun Shourie: That Modi should resign. Immediately after we came back we had to go to the meeting of the national executive in Goa and I was told you must be on the flight. I said, ‘No, that is not right. Only Advaniji and he (Vajpayee) should be there. They should thrash it out and finish it. Whatever they decide, whether Modi stays or go’. And frankly, I must say, I was more affected by Atalji’s pain than by what had happened in Gujarat. Maybe this is my inhumanity or something. I can’t claim that I was that great liberal. The second thing happened was that this person, who was saying that you have to go there, said ‘You don’t know, they will not talk. The two of them will just sit, two hours will go and they will not talk... So, Jaswant is going there. The two of you would be there and this subject must be brought up and concluded’. So we sat down but nobody would talk. After a while Atalji picked up a newspaper and opened it. Then Advaniji picked up a newspaper and opened it. So they are sitting like this (face-to-face) and each is holding a newspaper, shutting out the other. So I took the newspaper from Atalji. I said ‘Sir, please you have to decide this issue’. The conversation first went to Jana Krishnamurthy, who was the BJP president at that time, a very nice person... it was decided that Venkaiah (Naidu) would be the president.

Then second, ‘Modi ka kya karna hai?’. I think my recollection is more, what you would call, extended than Jaswant Singh’s. So, this was discussed and it was decided, it was definitely decided that when we get down, Advaniji will ring up Modi and say that in the meeting in the evening, offer to resign. Then the meeting starts, speeches start. Atalji, Advaniji and all are sitting on the stage and Modi got up and said, ‘Mujhe kuch kehna hai’, and he offered to resign. He said, ‘Main nahin chahta ki party should have any difficulties because of me’. And as if on cue, people from different parts of the hall started saying ‘absolutely no... koi galti nahin hai...’. I was sitting at the back... and I saw Atalji’s bewilderment because he thought this was a done deal. This was like an orchestrated coup against him.

So I got up and I said, ‘Narendra Modi ne abhi jo yeh kaha hai, it’s in pursuance of the decision which these senior leaders have taken in the flight... I was present’. There was consternation, but immediately again the chorus started and eventually somebody said, Atalji said or the president of the party said, ‘Abhi to public meeting ka time ho gaya hai, kal decide karenge. Logon ne kaha nahin nahin, nahin hoga’. So there is absolutely no doubt, and I can give you much more details of this, that Atalji was completely thwarted.

Shekhar Gupta: Thwarted? Everybody got together?

Arun Shourie: I am not sure that everybody got together simultaneously, but I must say that I was not all the time for this, that Modi has to go because of the killings, because in my view such things happen as a reaction, as happened in Delhi as a reaction to (Indira) Gandhi’s brutal killing. You can’t then prevent those things. Nobody can prevent those things.