Sunday, March 22, 2009

Varun and the Ghost of Sanjay Gandhi

A United Gandhi Family: Varun Gandhi on Indira Gandhi's left

What happens when the ghosts of a powerful past return to haunt a man whose father was the de facto prime minister of India in the 70s? Varun Gandhi could have learned a lesson history taught his father but instead he chose venom over the history. Varun Gandhi could have become the Rahul Gandhi of today had history been on his side. But alas, history is not a narration of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. History does not allow anybody to remain permanently powerful. Sanjay Gandhi, Varun’s father, was an extremely powerful politician and Indira Gandhi’s “favoured son.” He was a man in great hurry. On the fateful day of June 23, 1980, Sanjay was flying a single-engine plane for fun. He did three loops in the air but probably was not satisfied. He tried a fourth but lost control. The young dream came crashing down; so did the aspirations of his wife Maneka and son Varun Gandhi.

The fate of Sanjay Gandhi’s family can be summed up in one line: Power followed by powerlessness.

Indira Gandhi’s elevation of her son has been described as ‘feudal’. Eminent historian Ramchandra Guha has rightly remarked, “And just as sons of Mughal emperors were once given a suba (province) to run before taking over the kingdom itself, Sanjay was asked to look after affairs in India’s capital city.”

29-year old Varun Gandhi’s life journey has been characteristically marked by a steep decline of his family. Varun Gandhi was barely three months old when Sanjay Gandhi died in the accident. Sanjay’s death marked the beginning of an era dominated by Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv’s miraculous rise eclipsed Maneka and Varun Gandhi. A feeling of loss must be etched in the memory of Varun Gandhi.

So what was Varun Gandhi thinking when he spew venom against Indian Muslims and Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation? How can a man – who studied in the liberal tradition of London School of Economics and Political Science – be communal? Perhaps he was following in his father’s footsteps whose obsessive preference was to be always in the news.

Sanjay Gandhi was the darling of Indian media in the 70s. Sanjay’s “chief cheerleader and trumpeter” was none other than Khushwant Singh himself who devoted pages and pages of photographs accompanied by flattering text in the famous The Illustrated Weekly of India. All India Radio (AIR) and the state-run television channel Doordharshan also used to pay much more attention to Sanjay. Facts would put AIR and Doordharshan to shame. In a single year alone, 192 “news items” were broadcast about Sanjay from the Delhi station of AIR. In the same period, Doordharshan telecast 265 bulletins about Sanjay’s activities. What more when Sanjay made a 24-hour-trip to Andhra Pradesh, the Films Division made a full-length documentary called A Day to Remember whose commentary ran in three languages!

Which media organisation will provide such coverage to Varun Gandhi today? Of course, none. Varun was trying to imitate his father in order to create news around himself. Varun had forgotten that the days of a golden bygone era are over.

Varun Gandhi’s only claim to fame is that he belongs to the Gandhi family. He joined BJP following in his mother’s footsteps in a mad race for power. His five years in BJP has been frustrating. In 2004, he could not contest elections since he was not 25; now he is eligible. Varun wanted to make sure that his debut electoral entry was akin to big bang theory. This is precisely for this reason that he intentionally opted for a provocative poll speech. Varun wants to be like his powerful father who was the centre of attention as well as attraction for even union ministers. It is a well-known fact that Bansi Lal, the then Defence minister, took the two candidates for admiral to be questioned by Sanjay. And When Sanjay Gandhi visited Jaipur; on his way 501 arches were erected in his honour! And at Lucknow airport when Sanjay stumbled on the tarmac and lost the sleeper, it was picked up by UP chief minister. He very reverentially handed it back to Sanjay. Today, Varun is trapped in such a political quagmire that his sleeper will not handed back to him even by an airhostess of a third class airline!

Varun Gandhi’s plight and stature is exactly opposite of Sanjay Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi wielded so much influence in Indian politics that anybody opposing his diktat was doomed. When Kishore Kumar refused to sing for programmes organised to raise money for Sanjay Gandhi’s notorious family planning, coercion and force were used by Sanjay’s men to boycott Kishore Kumar. Kishore’s songs were banned from Vividh Bharati, AIR channel that used to broadcast film music. The Film Censor Board was instructed to hold up release of movies in which Kishore acted or sang! Sanjay’s supporters also warned record companies against selling Kishore’s songs!

Sanjay Gandhi was a man of obsession: ‘The Man Who Used to Get Things Done’ by hook or by crook. Varun Gandhi is following the same path in order to carve out a niche for himself. There is a fundamental difference between the two: The father was arrogant and haughty but he had at least apologised once on the instructions of his mother, Indira Gandhi. In an interview, Sanjay had lambasted the Marxists and accused them of being corrupt. He later retracted his statement and said that leaders in Jana Sangh and Swatantra parties were even more ‘corrupt’ and that CPI must be saluted for its support to “progressive policies, especially those affecting the poor people.”

Varun’s unapologetic mood conveys that he is being backed by his mother Maneka and the BJP. Chief Election Commission must ban him from contesting the upcoming general election from Pilbhit.

In his press conference, Varun claimed to be a ‘Gandhi’ but he has forgotten the ideals of his own family, at least of his grandmother. “All my father’s works”, said Indira Gandhi in 1962, “have been written in prison. I recommend prison life not only for aspiring writers but for aspiring politicians too.”

Is there any message for Varun? Yes, prison is the only place where he can wear the mantle of political maturity.

Sunday Inquilab, March 22, 2009

14 comments:

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Shabbir Hussain said...

Varun' denial of a lost dna in the dynasty paved way for this hypocrisy. Ponder him and Kasab sharing a cell!






Shabbir Hussain
www.shabbirhussain.org

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Aslam u Alekum Mubbashir Sahib,
Don't forget Sanjay ji's contributions to Bharath...He was a visionary too..we all have weaknesses...so Many leaders have these...but tell me my dear friend
any one who suports muslim fanaticism he is secular, but ay one who supports hindu fundamentalism he is communal? Why is this so??????Work for India..India has a great culture called Santan Culture which was tried to be plundered by Moghals n mlecchas but still Hindu Dharma survived and will survive till all Indians understadn the greatness of Hinduism...the Rig veda said "aano bhadra krtavo yantu Vishwatha:" means let knowledge come frm all sides....Jai Sree Krishna

Viyoma R said...

Superb Read!! i was looking out for articles related to 1971 war and subsequent emergency during the Indira regime.Thats when i came across your blog.

Very well written and excellently laid out thoughts!!!

anu said...

very nice blog...thank u for shedding some light on sanjay and varun gandhi's life...

anu said...

very nice blog...thank u for shedding some light on sanjay and varun gandhi's life...

Riyan said...

Hello,Mr.Mushtaq i agree with your viewpt.,but as u say spitting venom
by varun ,it is neccesary to limelight negation,wrongdoings of one ,so as to highlight nodoings or zerodoings of other.Rahul Gandhi to made a start as his uncle ,but controlled n sheathed by momma sonia,a smart woman who learned from errors in past.Gandhis have a strange charisma.Those who make up there know one thing for sure ,JANATA BHOLI GAY HAI.We live in a SECULAR STATE ,where minorities have suffered massacre ,be it 84 riots,mumbai blast or Godhra ,list is endless and strange killers on loose and yet rahul gandhi says,had congress ruling in UP demolition of babri masjid not happened i think he forget congress was ruling party in centre .Just as you say SANJAY was in great hurry ,maybe that is why he plans his moves slowly.Gandhis are a kind of ruling clan of this secular state.Being a minority i would say one thing my nephew asked me once when Indira was assasinated they massacred minority brutally now Rajiv is killed so they will murder alot of tamil people i was surprised .one thing i would say if wrongdoers are punished ,pain is less although scars do remain .They all are one and same ,just as in plays or novels,some characters have to be there to highlight the main character,same is the scenario here where senior gandhi is being crafted to take on power.Today all those who are appreciating Rahul and critisizing Varun were on the other side of scene when there was anti Gandhi wave VP Singh's period and strange things about rajiv gandhi'family wre coming outcheck records opps must be deleted for sure.

sujus said...

Stumbled upon ur blog... just finished reading Indira Gandhi's biography and was looking for more on Khuswant Singh's relationship with Sanjay Gandhi... ur 'About me' write-up is pretty interesting... though I daresay... I'd have preferred a more pronounced and indebt assessment of Varun Gandhi from a qualified journalist and lawyer; such as u... could have done with some more dope on his personality and the development of his political proclivities... as subject to him being his parents' son or his own personal journey of an unsettled life...

The problem with us Indians is that we are off to conclusions faster than the time demanded for indebt understanding...

Anyway... keep writing... I do personally like your writing style.

Many congratulations!

Anonymous said...

The craze for power comes not just from his dad but grandmother too.

Btw its slipper and not sleeper...

Capt . Sanjay Dey said...

This was very enlightining as to how the tides of time turn the fortunes of even those who can be born in the Gandhi Dynasty.

Well written Blog.

Anonymous said...

you cup is just full of Hatred towards Hindus and you are just a regular Islamic Brat.

Anonymous said...

A Doctor, Police, Journalist should treat people like and your writings shows a lot of differences. No one in Gandhi-Nehru Family is Secular or safeguarding any minorities interest. It's all Voter Bank Politics. Your article is good, but take care in future of not writing any biased articles.

Jai Hind!!!

Anonymous said...

he was spitting venom and what are you doing, bhonsdiwala musalman, keep tolerating these terrorists and do nothing, one day there will be 1 billion varun gandhis and we will kick your ass into pakistan where you truly belong

Rakesh Rao said...

If u r comparing rahul Vinci sorry Gandhi with varun Gandhi u might as well written in detail about their educational background how rahul claimed to have studied at Cambridge ; and remember the instance wen rahul was arrested by FBI at US airport with his girl friend for carring 160000 US dollars undisclosed... Now I don't want to play judge but there are 100 REDS of articles and blogs on the internet I will request people to research about both the Gandhi's mentioned and decide if. This article written by mubassir was written with shades of green . This is exactly wat pisses us off when akbar owasi propagates against a majority population where does the Sunday gentleman go ...for a fuckin walk .. I am proud of my country I am not living in Pakistan or middle east that anybody can stop me declaring myself that I am Hindu...