Indira’s opportunism caused Bluestar;Congress bred extremism, defamed Sikhs for political gains
Chandigarh April 12 – Senior Bharitya Janata Party Leader and Punjab Local Bodies and Industries Minister Mr. Manoranjan Kalia today described as "laughable and ridiculously ill-informed" the criticism of Mr. L.K. Advani’s autobiographical book "My Country, My Life" by the PPCC president Mrs. Rajinder Kaur Bhathal . "The book is the strongest proof given by anyone so far that the Punjab tragedy was the result of the anti-Punjab and anti-Sikh policies of the Congress party. It was the Congress, says the book, which started terrorism in the state not only to undercut the Akali influence but also to settle scores between rival groups within the Congress party.The book also powerfully illustrates how the brave and patriotic community of the Sikhs was painted as anti-national and terrorists both by Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi who had justified even the massacre of innocent Sikhs after Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 by calling it "a minor earthquake after the falling of a big tree," said Mr. Kalia in a press release here.
About who was responsible for Operation Bluestar, Mr. Kalia said, "Mr. Advani’s book is the strongest and the mostwell-documented indictment ever of the Congress role in fomenting violence and communal tension in the state which led to the tragic Operation Blue star." About the allegation that Mr. Advani did not refer to Guru Nanak Dev ji as ‘Guru’, Mr. Kalia said, "It is clear that Mrs. Bhathal has not read the book at all. Therefore, she is not aware that on page after page in the book, Mr. Advani refers to the Ten Great Masters of the Sikh faith as ‘Gurus’. As for her objection to Mr. Advani’s tribute to Guru Nanak Dev ji as ‘the greatest in the tradition of saints’, Mrs. Bhathal should read Guru Granth Sahib to understand the true meaning of the term as used by the great Gurus. Mr Advani has disclosed in the book that reading of the holy Guru Granth Sahib is ‘the most important religious rite in his family in Sindh.’
Regarding the allegation about Mr. Advani’s alleged claim that he forced Mrs. Indira Gandhi to order the Operation Bluestar, Mr. Kalia said, "Not only does Mr. Advani describe Operation Bluiestar as the ‘most painful moment in India’s history’ but he emphatically states on page 437 that ‘even the need for this operation and all its tragic consequences could easily have been averted.’ Even on page 430, which is being brazenly misquoted, Mr. Advani holds Mrs. Gandhi squarely responsible for this painful act and attributes it to "Indira’s policies and to her tendency to seek political advantage which led to the erosion of her credibility both at home and abroad"
Quoting extensively from the book, Mr. Kalia further said that Mr. Advani categorically puts the blame for the entire Punjab tragedy on the Congress policy of "demonisation of the Sikhs" which began with Mr. Nehru’s "rigid and undemocratic stand against the Punjabi Suba". "Although many new states were created in 1956 with language as the main criterion, the Congress government at the centre remained insensitive to the Akali demand for Punjabi Suba. Guided by its myopic vision, the Congress party tried to take electoral advantage of the situation. It misrepresented the Akali demand for Punjabi Suba as a demand actually for a Sikh majority state." (Page 425)
Mr. Advani also lashes out at the Congress refusal to show any regard for Sikh ethos, said Mr. Kalia, quoting from the same page where Mr. Advani writes, " Given the strategic location of Punjab and the distinctive Sikh history and ethos, the Congress party and its government at the centre should have shown greater care and sensitivity in dealing with issues relating to the state. Unfortunately, this was not always the case after India gained Independence."
Mr. Advani says that the Congress greed for power, and not the Sikh community, was responsible for the rise of militancy in Punjab. On page 426, he writes, the Congress "remained un-reconciled to the domination of the Akali Dal, which has always enjoyed the support of the majority of the Sikhs in the politics of Punjab. It (the Congress) tried to undercut the Akali influence by resorting to undemocratic and potentially dangerous means. The situation in Punjab worsened due to Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian tendencies."
Mr. Advani also refers to the well documented instances where the Congress sought and got the support of extremist fringe for political gains against the Akali Dal. On page 429, he writes, "There are also instances of the Congress supporting such rivals of the Akali Dal who were known for their sympathies for the extremist cause. Sometimes, even intra party rivalries within the Congress saw one faction seeking the help of extremists to isolate the other the rival faction."
Mr. Kalia said that Mr. Advani’s book is a tribute to the outstanding bravery, the glory and the patriotism of the Sikhs and the Punjabis. On page 424, Mr. Advani writes, "No other land has made more sacrifices for India both before and after Independence than Punjab. No other community has fought more bravely for the protection of Hindus and Hinduism than the Sikhs."
As against this, the Congress leaders have always indulged in a campaign to systematically defame and demonise the entire Sikh community, said Mr. Kalia, asking the Congress and its secret sympathizers in Punjab to do some soul searchinpg on the role of the party in discriminating against the Sikhs and the Punjabis. He also advised the critics of the book "to at least take the trouble of reading it before commenting on its contents."