Thursday, November 26, 2009

V P Singh – The Unsung and much hated Hero

I can foresee the type of vitriol that’s going to be spewed on my blog space with the posting of this blog. Nevertheless, I am going ahead with it, braving the venom. For Viswanath Prathap Singh was a politician I admired very much. Also, tomorrow, the 27 of November is his first death anniversary. If he had had his way, India would not have been an easy victim of Islamic terrorism, in the absence of adequate internal support groups which mushroomed alarmingly in the wake of the unfortunate demolition of the Barbri Masjid.

True, some of his reforms may not have been good for the privileged class – the Indian Middle class- to which I belong. But I admired him precisely for that. He himself belonged to the royalty, but he was not obsessed with his survival. His obsession was with the tasks he felt he could perform given the powerful political positioning that he enjoyed for a brief period. He behaved like a man in a hurry to bring about certain changes in the society before he was toppled and relegated to political oblivion. For this, he took the road not taken by any politician of free India, which, sadly, did not take him to the desired destination. The implementation of Mandal Commission was the first of his major reforms. What followed this brave, bold and daring politically suicidal decision from the then Prime Minister V P Singh is history. Every political party which claimed to be socially progressive dumped him, thereby exposing the hypocrisy of its claims.

The arrest of L K Advani progressing towards Ayodhya is the most gutsy thing that any politician has done. It is Prime Ministers and chief ministers of this material that we need in India today to deal with anti social elements like, say, the Thackerays, who are terrorizing Maharashtra. Today, with the Libernam report tabled, I cannot help thinking if Babri Masjid would still have been there if V P Singh had been the Prime Minister of India then. The Hamlet of the Indian politics, Mr.Nnarasimha Rao, about whom it is believed that he had a hidden communal agenda, behaved in an ignorance-is- bliss manner when the mosque was being systematically demolished as per expert plans drawn up by architectural engineers, and executed by trained kar sevaks. This is true, notwithstanding BJP’s laughable explanation about the demolition being a spontaneous action.

The Liberhan report is politically motivated. The timing and the findings are meant to divert attention from the scams that are casting a cloud over the ruling Congress party, and also to get the minority votes in the coming assembly elections. One doesn’t have to be a political pundit to see that. It’s obvious for the world to see. Otherwise how else could he have absolved the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao from all blame? AS the top leader of the nation, allowing Babri masjid demolition to happen by looking the other way was a sin of omission for which the nation cannot forgive him – because this nation has paid/is paying heavily on account of that. It’s no secret that the Bomb terrorism which began with the Mumbai blasts, the permeation of terrorists mentality among a large number Muslims who till then were Indians first and then only Muslims, the communal clashes, the Mumbai Riots, ethnic cleansing post Godhra, the jihad spreading like wild fire, the growth in numbers of hate filled kar sevaks, the willingness of Indian Muslims to become jihadis – all these constitute the chain reactions triggered off by that sad demolition at Ajodhya about which Justice Leberham has submitted a report which exempts the main person on whom accountability should have been pinned – Mr. Narasimha Rao.

The Congress party’s secular credentials are also suspect, though, in this aspect it is the best of the bad lot. When BJP, which was giving external support to the VP Singh government, withdrew that support following VP Singh's couragoeus and patriotic action of issuing orders to arrest Advani who was heading for Ayodhya for the grand finale of the demolition drama (began earlier on a rath in Kanyakumari), V P. Singh’s responded with a move which he knew was bound to be a political harakiri. He put the issue to vote in the parliament, hoping against hope that some members of parliament will respect the dictates of the conscience as lawmakers of a secular democracy, instead of obeying the party whip, which in effect, amounted to supporting the communal agenda of the BJP. He chose this course of action knowing full well he will be defeated. But he wanted to create a new culture in Indian politics where conscientious politicians were given a chance to put the country and its constitution above petty party considerations. He felt the cause for which he was willing to throw away his political career was a fundamental issue. He exhorted the Indian politicians to do a soul searching. If he had succeeded, he would have brought in a political culture which would have made India a different place today – a better one no doubt. But he was defeated on the floor of the house which would not have happened if the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi had not voted against the government. The lie of the secular agenda of the congress party was exposed. But then, how could one expect Rajiv Gandhi to forgive the man who exposed his hands sullied in the Bofors deal, or allow a potential political rival to rise on the wave of clean, principled politics? After all, he was Rajiv Gandhi and not Mahatma Gandhi.

VP Singh was a statesman. He was a patriot. He was not a power monger. He was one who was always willing to admit defeat and resign, as a matter of principle. He was also a politician who tried many permutations and combination to stay in power, but only long enough to be able to bring about the changes he felt had to be made in order to create an order where equity was the rule, secularism was an imperative, and in which corruption had no space. But we failed him. We, Indians failed to see the honest politician in him.

After all, this is a nation which murdered the Mahatma.

Every nation gets the leaders it deserves.

But history will remember Vishwanath Prathap Singh as a valiant son of india whose fatal flaw was that he loved his country above his political career, and as one who went down fighting to correct the systemic flaws in the polity of the nation and as a statesman who sacrificed power and position to take that first unpopular step in providing a level playing field for all citizens, especially those who were crushed by centuries of social oppression.


  1. Nice observations. I liked the good things you've written about him. But whatever may happen we all will only remember him as the person who caused the protests that had the image of a burning Rajiv Goswami.

    Loved the last paragraph.

  2. Loved it.. Nicely written

  3. “In the name of high tech cities and special economic zones, every Chief Minister is throwing promises of tens of thousands of new job opportunities. Every manufacturer is dictating his own price be set for his product by the government. But the Government is dictating its own price for the produce of the farmers. If you do not heed and listen to their (farmers) voice, you will not be able to prevent them from taking up arms. Truly, I wish to become a Maoist. My health is the only hindrance to that"
    His own words,and showed his attitudes.

    But I cant forget the violent memories after the Mandal commission report.He also played a role in fragmenting national parties in to regional parties.I understood the resentment from the youth,a lot of deserving, bright and capable people, have been deprived of their fair due, due to the inadequacies of the quota system.And the way the quota system was formulated, it split communities than uniting them.Elsewhere,the whole idea would have been called racist.
    Singh’s social message did not translate much into in his personal life or life style.

    According to the Hindustan Times, 29 Nov 2008:

    "The last rites of former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh were performed on Saturday with full state honours here on the banks of the Sangam, the holy confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. Amid chanting of Vedic hymns, his eldest son Ajeya Singh went around the funeral pyre before lighting it and consigning the body to flames"
    Doesnt go with the ideologies he preached,isnt it. Not good to talk evil on someone who has left the world,though.
    I liked the artist in him.He was a good painter and photographer. He used all medias in his painting,and was good at it.
    You can have a look at some of his paintings, might like them.

  4. I also had a good opinion about him till I read "My Country, My life" by L.K. Advani.I don't know by now what to believe and what not. The above book describes the politics of India after independence.Not saying that what Mr. LK Advani says are right, but he narrates things in a very clear way and to be honest, I lost faith of the ideology of VP Singh after reading the above book

  5. Good post KPJ, I echo your views. Good to see some one remembering a really great Leader.

  6. We always weigh things with castes still....


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