Skip to main content

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

Prakash N Shah
By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”
In a 160-page interview in Gujarati published in a book form “in lieu of an autobiography”, Shah, 79, who was twice sent to jail during the Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency, answering a question whether he had met a “character called Narendra Modi” during those days, says, “I was released on parole for four or five days, as my father, who was going to the US, wanted I should spend some time with him. I met Modi for the first time when he came to see him.” At that time they lived in Maninagar, Ahmedabad.
President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Shah’s rather longish interview by Gujarati writer and blogger Urvish Kothari has been published by Sarthak Prakashan because, to quote Shah, “Kothari appeared sure, I wouldn’t be writing an autobiography, hence the best option to him was to do an autobiographical interview.” Arrested on March 13 or 14, 1976, outside the political spectrum, Shah claims, he was among the “couple of persons or three who served the longest jail period during the Emergency.”
Asserting all that Modi did at that time to was to “run around to do small little things as part of some necessary duty”, Shah says, “His role was that much only… This was all that was”, though adding, “Perhaps I would have been doing exactly the same thing in his place had I been 10 years younger. But surely, his role was not what he had tried to claim on website, which he tried to blow out of proportion, though later he made some efforts to water it down.”
Shah, who was twice jailed, says, after Indira Gandhi lifted the Emergency, and he was freed on January 21 or 22, 1977, “There were occasions when I met Modi.” Though asserting that he did not find any reason to carry any impressions about Modi then, he adds, “Later on, during discussions with friends, I was made to understand that he was an extraordinarily ambitious person, and to achieve his ambition, he would go to any extent.”
Admitting that at that he at that time he had not see Modi in that light, Shah says, Modi would keep in touch with him after the Emergency was lifted, and would regularly send him greetings. “Most of his greetings would come from Kamalam, Chandigarh. At one point, I wrote back, asking him to put me on the official mailing list of BJP, as that would help me in my critical writings. I had written this in a lighter tone, but thereafter, he stopped sending me greetings.”
Subsequently, Shah says, he met Modi as Gujarat chief minister, when the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj was to felicitate veteran Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya. “Krishnakant Vakharia had organized the function, which perhaps was not to the liking of the Gujarat government, nor to major newspapers. Vakharia was adamant that I should speak.”
Shah recalls, “Modi had just become Gujarat chief minister. He spotted me, addressing me as ‘Prakash’. Earlier, whenever we met, he would call me ‘Prakashbhai’. As he did not address me with a ‘bhai’ suffix, I had to decide how to address him. So I merely asked him: ‘How are you?’ And thereafter, in his speech, Modi gave details of how he spent his life very close to the village of Chunibhai Vaidya, and all that… Indeed, the first impression of Modi as chief minister wasn’t a good one.”
Continues the veteran activist, “What I do know, however, is he would read what I wrote. I came to know from someone who told me, Modi was trying to find out what I meant by social engineering in my write-up on BJP’s political strategy. I was also told that he once he opined, nobody from Sardayists could be found, except Prakash. But there was no direct contact… Once I heard had had pointed fingers at me when I was on a Star TV debate saying he would ‘expose this Prakash and company’.”

RSS days

Born in 1940 in Mansa, a North Gujarat town, Shah says, during his early days, he would be taken to RSS shakhas by his school teacher Harishchandra Patel, who was later to become Gujarat state assembly speaker. When in college, he would often interact with Lakshman Inamdar, who years later became a major Gujarat and then all-India RSS functionary.
“Called Vakilsaheb, he once asked me what I was reading these days. I told him, ‘Hindu Way of Life’ by Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan. Vakilsaheb told me, the book contains everything, but not Hindu Rashtra. This was the time it struck me, it was a sematic ultimatum”, notes Shah.
Giving details interaction with RSS leaders and cadres, especially in jail, including Chimanbhai Shukla, whom one of his friends would call ‘Fuhrer’, Shah recalls how on August 15, 1976, when they had gathered to celebrate Independence day, some RSS cadres were in a real dilemma whether to pay respects to the national flag at all, and if yes, then then how, by placing the right hand on the chest in the RSS style, and what if Shukla saw them.

As writer

BA in “economics entire” and MA in “politics entire”, to quote him, Shah gives details of how he started doing formal writing, which led him to become a top journalist-activist. “Even though I stopped going in RSS shakhas, I had my contacts. Hence, when RSS mouthpiece RSS ‘Sadhna’ began, I was taken to its makeshift office in Salapas Road by Ramanbhai Shah as one of the possible writers. In my youth, there I used to write a column called Vividha. It was a tightrope walk. I used to write in the name of Apurva.”
Pointing out that he continued writing for “Sadhna” till 1963-64, after which he kept writing in several dailies and periodicals, but mainly “Nireekshak”, which began in 1968, Shah gives interesting details of his association with “Loksatta-Jansatta”, a Gujarati daily of the Indian Express group daily, with which he was associated with 12 long years, and later as resident editor of the Times of india (Gujarati) for three months.
During an interaction, Indian Express owner Ram Nath Goenka (Shah calls him RNG) told Shah, “What to do? Above all others is Parameshwar (Almighty), but in the office, editor is above me.” In sharp contrast, he recalls the Times of India (Gujarati) days, when after being appointed as resident editor in October, he resigned in December after the management suddenly decided to insert a consultant editor without his consent.
After Shah resigned, he was told that Dileep Padgaonkar, who was editor-in-chief, regretted that “had I met him he would have convinced me.” Recalling, in this context, an incident where Padgaonkar is said to have claimed to be the most powerful person, next to the Prime Minister, Shah says, “My answer was simple… Dilip Padkaonkar believes he is No 2 in the country. But in the ‘Times of India’ he is No 9.”
---
The book "Prakash N Shah" can be bought online HERE

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.