Narayanan attacks Vajpayee on Guj riots
Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 2 (PTI) Breaking his silence over two years after stepping down from office, former President K R Narayanan has severely criticised former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his handling of the post-Godhra situation and accused the BJP of stalling a second term for him. "He (Vajapyee) did not do anything effective. I had sent him letters. I had talked to him directly," Narayanan said in a freewheeling interview to Congress MLA P T Thomas carried by a recent issue of Malayalam magazine 'Manava Samskriti.' Claiming that there was a conspiracy involving the state and central governments behind the 2002 Gujarat riots, he said if the military was given powers to shoot at the perpetrators of violence, recurrence of violence in Gujarat could have been avoided.
"Had military been given powers to shoot, the carnage in Gujarat could have been avoided to a great extent," he said.
"I had asked military to be sent to suppress the riots. The Centre had the constitutional responsibility and powers to send military if the state governments asked. The military was sent. But if the military was given powers to shoot at the perpetrators of violence, recurrence of tragedies in Gujarat could have been avoided. However, both the state and central government did not do so," Narayanan said.
Narayanan said BJP came in the way of his becoming President for the second time, fearing that he would intervene in the implementation of their 'hidden agenda', especially in the sphere of education.
"The BJP Government had hidden agenda in many areas, including education. Securing the reins of education to spread their ideology was their aim. I had intervened in the appointment of certain vice-chancellors. Those, including Murli Manohar Joshi (the then HRD Minister) had resentment about that," the former President said.
"My interventions were democratic and constitutional. Above all, the interests of secularism was involved," he said.
"They had received legal advice on the possibility of my intervention if I continued in President's office. At a certain stage, they told me that they had decided not to support anybody for more than one term in the posts of President and Vice-President. Their aim was to get rid of me and they carried out that mission quite efficiently," he said.
"They might have thought that it would be difficult for them to lead the Government with a person ideologically poles apart occupying the office of the President," he said.
Narayanan recalled that when he was approached by the Left parties with the suggestion for a second term in the office, he had asked them from where he would get the required support to win.
Terming himself a "Nehruvian Socialist" albeit neither "devotee of Communism nor a blind anti-Communist", Nayarayan said it was as part of their strategy that the Leftists supported him to become Vice-President and President after opposing him when he contested for the Lok Sabha from Ottappalam in Kerala in 1984 on a Congress ticket.
"They (Communists) knew that I had ideological differences with them. When they decided to support a dangerous non-Communist, special circumstances of the national politics were also involved. That was part of their political strategy. I had benefitted from their support and their political positions received acceptability by supporting me," he said.
Revealing that late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the source of inspiration for him to enter active politics, Narayanan said senior Congress leader K Karunakaran did not relish the idea of his contesting the election.
"It was former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who gave me the opportunity to contest. Karunakaran kept off my campaigning in Ottappalam. Many thought that I would not win from the Communist-dominated constituency. But in later stages of campaigning many of those who kept off came to canvass for me. But Karunakaran alone did not turn up," he said.
"Despite I winning three consecutive elections from Ottappalam, Karunakaran told me that I was not going to be made a minister in the Narasimha Rao Government as I had always been a Communist fellow-traveller. I then asked Karunakaran whether it was not the Communists whom I defeated on all three occasions," Nayaranan recalled.
A former diplomat, Narayanan firmly believes that India need not change its non-aligned foreign policy because the world is now free from Cold War.
"Our foreign policy is based on certain values. There is no need to change the foreign policy because Cold War has ended. We should not cast off non-alignment policy that upholds universal friendship and humanity. The core of our foreign policy is its ability to take independent and impartial positions on international issues," he said.
Narayanan also said Presidential system was unsuitable to India as such a governance would lead to dictatorship, either person-centric or of the military kind.
"Parliamentary system has a mechanism for peaceful expression of people's resentments or criticism through the opposition. It is the parliamentary intervention that gives the country its stability. However, timely interventions and debates in Parliament should not be allowed to lead to explosive situations." Narayanan, however, said he was pained at the "degradation" in the functioning of Parliament.