This is a continuation of the previous conversation Swamy remembers V P Singh. Viewers are requested to see that before watching this.
Dr Swamy Recalls Chandrashekar
Dr Swamy: I went straight to Rajiv’s house and I told Rajiv that I had given you a promise that, I will take care of Chandrashekar and keep him in line and well behaved, but I don’t think I can. Rather than my telling you after that riot act, you will feel let down even now. He had just told me that he won’t make me a Minister. I will not be in a position to see that he and you get along.
Rajiv Gandhi said, Oh My God what a traitor he is, for what you have done for him. I said, I just wanted to tell and left. Before I left the house, Rajiv told me don’t worry, you and I are friends and I will show you what a friend can do and I went back home. Within two hours I got these frantic calls from Chandrashekar, I refuse to take the phone because I knew, but maybe a change of heart or something, I didn’t want to talk to him. It went on ringing for four hours.
Finally, I was told by my servant that an industrialist by name Malhotra, he was a friend of mine and he was a friend of Chandrashekar as well has come and I went out and he was sitting in his car. I went said what the hell is up? He opened the door and first shake hands and I shook hands and he pulled me into the car and then had the door shut.
He told his driver to take us to Chandrashekar’s house. I said what the matter with you? Have you gone nuts? That guy is a rascal; he calls me up and tells me this. After a high brawl, I took him out of the wilderness to make him the Prime Minister. Why are you taking to Chandrashekar’s house, He said no no, you have misunderstood him, he never meant that.
Sree Iyer: This is how the politicians speak, say something and then say you didn’t say it.
Dr Swamy: So he sent a common friend, he knew I won’t come on a telephone call so this way a virtual kidnap. When I went to Chandrashekar’s room, this guy stayed out. Chandrashekar said, what’s the matter with you, I have been with you for such a long time, I can’t joke with you? There were people who were saying that I should not make you Minister and I asked you, you should have said no, I will be become the Minister. I would have gone long, I know without you I can’t have become a Prime Minister. I said I didn’t know that, I didn’t like it, what the meaning of saying some people, who the hell are these some people, had they done anything for you except to make fun of you and make you look like an idiot and in front of that fraud called V P Singh and you went along with it and should have stayed in Janata Dal Party.
Anyways, now, I understood you are touchy on this point, you will be a Minister of course and I discussed portfolio afterwards. I said what portfolio is to be discussed, I will be Finance Minister obviously and He said, Theek Hai, we will talk.
I left from there and went away. I went straight back to Rajiv’s house, he was all smiles. I said, what happened, I phone him after you left. I said, I agreed to make you Prime Minister because Swamy was pushing for it, then everything got cleared.
The swearing in ceremony took place, Rajiv boycotted that, because Chandrashekar brought in a guy called Sanjay Singh, who was reported to have killed the husband of the girl he was having an affair with. He felt strongly about it and then the other thing was Maneka Gandhi was also given a position in cabinet and there was a dispute going on in the family. He thought that since he is the one who made the issue he should clear the list with them. Most of all he felt sore that he didn’t make me Finance Minister and so he asked me when I went after swearing in ceremony to thank him that I have become a Minister with two portfolios “Commerce “and “Law” and he asked me, why? You wanted Finance because he gave me his word that he would make me finance, he has to make you finance minster, he has not made it. I don’t like this in this, why can’t he keep his word, and how long can we last. I said let’s get started I mean we took a project, let us now complete it. Now we can do course correction. He said yeah you got a point and laughed it off.
I have told him and he asked me to speak to you, I said yes, he spoke to me, first he had said we would make me Finance Minister and then he called me and said listen, I don’t want you to get upset. Can I give you something else, I said, what it means give me something else. It’s nothing else it’s Finance that the one in the dog hole just now. It’s in a bad shape, it needs to be rectified as soon as we come to power. He said yes, then I suddenly find that in the morning he tells me that listen, I have got a message from Rajiv Gandhi that he doesn’t want you to be Finance Minister. I am going to give you Commerce and Law, two ministries. I said if he says so, then there is no problem. I asked Rajiv, did you say so, he said rubbish, I said I had asked him if Rajiv called you up and said so. He said no, he sent R K Dhawan.
He called up Dhawan, What did you tell Chandrashekar? R K Dhawan is a private secretary, Stenographer who rose to become a cabinet minister in Narasimha Rao’s Government. Dhawan was caught in the act of having told a lie, he said no, I only said Rajiv doesn’t want Swamy to be Foreign Minister. So Rajiv turned around to me and said you know Why I said that because your pro-Israeli and from very first day, they will keep in controversy. I want them to see your brilliant mind and therefore I wanted you to be Finance Minister
I said no question because Chandrashekar proposed that can I make Foreign Minister says no. So Dhawan said I only said this and Finance be careful that he doesn’t go after opening bank accounts of everybody and putting us all into jail kind of thing. He said why did you say that, no no I was just for the sake of this thing. I did not say don’t make him, I said he is very good finance minister and all that.
Dhawan was squirming and sweating, it was good to see that and then I said go away. Then he said listen at the first opportunity, I am going to see that you become Finance Minister; leave to it to me. I said I am quite happy with two. Commerce is no joke those days, Commerce was a very powerful ministry all the export-import license everything was with commerce and on top of it Law.
So now, what had really happened something you should know, happens even now. Dhawan’s actually is primary loyalty was neither to Indira Gandhi nor to Rajiv Gandhi not to any politician. He was essentially a servant of Dhirubhai Ambani. Now, Ambani those days for very pro me because I was fighting V P Singh and V P Singh was after his blood. So anything and everything I wanted him to do, Ambani would do that was the situation. So I could not understand, why Ambani would ask Dhawan, because Dhawan was Ambani’s Man so who else could have asked, Rajiv didn’t ask him, he won’t do it on his own. He is too smart for that.
I told Chandrashekar after I had been sworn in and I went to meet him. I said Dhawan is a liar, Rajiv never said that you want me to call Rajiv in your presence; He said no no Jo hogaya hogaya Chod do. He said in Hindi Asli baat janana chahte ho – Saare Darre Hue Hai (everybody is afraid) that as soon as you come in power, these financials were published by Enforcement Directorate, Revenue Intelligence, income tax etc., you will go after people. I said I won’t go after innocent people, I will go after crooks. He said, yes you will open up everybody’s Pandora’s Box and there will be immediately a crisis for us. Let see in the future and I said in future, your government won’t last if you don’t do it now.
Sree Iyer: It started really on a rickety wicket.
Dr Swamy: But then he did one thing, he brought me in as the member of the Cabinet Committee of the Political Affairs (CCPA). This is the only subcommittee of the cabinet which has access to intelligence, the whole cabinet doesn’t have.
Sree Iyer: So the current CCPA who are the members?
Dr Swamy: Oh I don’t know, but generally speaking a Home Minister, Foreign Minister, External Affairs Minister sometimes not often. The Home Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister are staple. Now in my case, he did not keep the Finance Minister but he kept me, doing any serious business and the Deputy Prime Minister we had Devi Lal, he said I don’t understand English. I am not going to attend any cabinet meeting if everything goes on in English. Therefore, any subcommittee meeting with all bureaucrats the only one with all of your senior bureaucrats of all these various ministries, Commander in Chief of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Joint Steve staff all everybody’s there RAW, IB, it’s a most powerful body. I was made the member of that because he had to keep me in good humor and that’s how it started.
Once the government got going, one thing I have to say for Chandrashekar is first – he was decisive, second – utterly man of common sense & third – he did not try to bluff me from doing anything. I have done a lot of things without even asking him. At most he would call me up and say these people are crying about you, is this just right you are insisting on it, I say yes, then he will say alright.. theek hai chod do.
I think in terms of executive Prime Minister, he was very fine and basically he was not a small minded man. As I told you when he expelled me and later on said I am sorry, then many people told me to expel you and all. I fell for their trap and it turns out that you were protecting me; like Mr Modi should recognize today that I am protecting him. They don’t like me, as I stand up for Modi so much of the animosity towards me is that because I am protecting Modi. Advani for example I have a quarrel with him today and he is very sore with me, but it has nothing do with it I have done or not done. It’s basically I stand up for Modi and defend him.
Even here in my talks in California, I have defended him, the same thing happened there. But, he was the one who never had any doubt that when the chips are down I am with him. So a free hand – I did what I would like. He would come to me with problems, I just said leave it to I will do it and then come to you with the solution so don’t come in the middle. This is the kind of relationship we had because come up together, taken long years together from the Janata Party Period and during the J P Movement.
Unfortunately what happened is Rajiv Gandhi ran out of patience, because this guy was a very senior politician and Rajiv was just a new man. For me he was almost the same age as me. We spoke the same convent English, we shared the same jokes, so there was a different thing. He thought of me as a brave man who took on V P Singh and Chandrashekar as a man who capitulated and went over to the Janata Dal. There was a different perception about us two. There was only weakness about Chandrashekar- he had like a typical rural Rajput, a lot of sycophants and they would tell him that he is Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and so on, Yashwant Sinha was one of them. There was another guy, a who was complete businessman racketeer called Kamal Morarka and they started spoiling his mind.
Somewhere I felt, BJP was ready to invest anything because I was the man whom Vajpayee kept out of BJP and the track record of these people was that whoever parted company with them was made Part Company with them they never survived in politics. I have become Minister without them (cocked a snook at them). There was Manohar Lal Sondhi who was very popular but they drove him mad Vajpayee particularly. Same thing within the organization that Nanaji Deshmukh and much later, of course, Govindacharya and then Balraj Madhok, reduced him to zero, he died completely.
In my case I was prospering, I was getting elected in parliament and becoming Minister and that too very powerful Minister. I was running the government and found an alternative coalition, so Vajpayee felt this would be held against him because he overruled everybody and kept me out of BJP in 1980.
Now he had to prove himself, I think somewhere they (sycophants of Chandrashekar) felt that we have come very far but this not going to last long, so let’s find something stable and BJP was ready to bring this government down. We will take you in and give you protective position. They had now begun to start provoking Chandrashekar to say that what is this you have a done him a great favor. You have saved him from V P Singh govt. Now let him just go and retire. You today are so popular that if you stand alone you will win, now the worst part was that in the meantime; I did this deal with American to save India.
The Americans were so pleased with me that all of a sudden, New York Times has Chandrashekar and my photo on the front page with a tag, New guys in the ballpark.
Sree Iyer: We are going to try and get that link and show you the photograph. (could not find it)
Dr Swamy: We were getting an invitation from all over the world; Bush calls up directly to Thank one and all. When there was an international conference on WTO as Commerce Minister, I had a bilateral meeting with the Americans. There was Carla Hills representing the Americans and she was very stiff and all that but she had about my background.
Sree Iyer: Anyone hears that about the Harvard Professor with PhD.
Dr Swamy: They stand up on right wing, we are also known as a left wing country…
When I went to international conference on WTO as a commerce minister I had a bi-lateral meeting with Americans and there were Carla Hills representing the Americans and she was very stiff and all that but she had heard of our background
Sree Iyer: At any time somebody knows that a professor from Harvard University…
Dr Swamy: I am a Right Wing, I mean we were known as a left wing country so she was bit stuff, I said listen I have got a deal for you, and she said what? I said you support me on abolishing controls on textile exports and I will support you in your fight against Europeans on agriculture subsidies. She leaned back and said, are you from India? Have I got it wrong and she looked at the schedule.
Sree Iyer: She didn’t know you had cut your teeth in Harvard…
Dr Swamy: She knew, but to translate there are lots of people who are interested and educated and actually sycophants and they didn’t have political power. I was the first one who yielded political power and I demonstrated it. She said, you are a breath of fresh air! and she turned around and said “Deal Signed”, take it as signed, we are on it together and we created a revolution that the new WTO and GATT agreement America had textile quotas were abolished and it was called something like “Multi Fiber Agreement” and the European had to cut down on subsidies which gave us the agricultural market access and so on.
This became a major change so we were all over the western press as the guys who made business who knew what they were doing and the press said that Chandrasekhar as a man of common sense and he has got a rural common sense which goes straight to the heart of people and Swamy is a very highly sophisticated, educated in this cabinet of mediocre and shines out, outstanding intellectual and all that and all these went to his head and soon he started to feel we are getting crowds all over. It’s a lesson that presents prime minister to learn from that because these are temporary things and they can vaporize in no time.
Sree Iyer: It’s like easy come easy go
Dr Swamy: It’s not easy to come but even hard come is an easy go.
Sree Iyer: Only thing common is an easy go.
Dr Swamy: So he began dreaming of going to elections and getting absolute majority and all those things and so the quarrel became with these people and then Rajiv suddenly woke and called me one day at 2 O clock in the night and said I am going to tell him make Swamy finance minister or this government goes. I said, don’t precipitate that much. He said, no. what is this and he had very utter contempt for Yashwant Sinha he said, either the government stays with you as Finance Minister or doesn’t stay – so one crisis somewhere Haryana Police and made it all up and so this is spying on me and relations deteriorated and he said, alright the government goes. Chandrashekar had this raw rural surface pact concept and said let it go. I said, come on this is running a government and it is such a hard work and let’s try and work it out so media of course naturally having great thing and the BJP fuelling it media says, today Rajiv Gandhi is going to go and present and tell the President that he is withdrawing support and Prime Minister has told it the appointment’s calendar of the president which always comes to the prime minster and it is written Rajiv Gandhi at 11 ‘O’ clock that is the time when parliament meets so he tells me “ab nahi chalega” (it will not work now), I said, let see let him go to President first. He said, no, he has decided. I don’t want to give him the initiative.
Sree Iyer: So he had resigned before.
Dr Swamy: I didn’t think he would do it otherwise I would have stood in the way of him entering the parliament. He gets up and said, I have had enough and the whole BJP side were clapping and cheering “Asli Thakur” and of course Vajpayee was not in Lok Sabha but he had lost something had happened and he was part of Rajya Sabha and may be in 1989 he had not contested the election that is the reason may be he was not a member in Lok Sabha and he was sitting in the gallery watching the proceedings and they were all cheering and he said, I am going straight from here to the President and then he resigned.
I was getting frantic and when I came out Rangarajan Kumaramangalam who was still in Congress at that time he said Rajiv wants to see you urgently so I said where is he? He said he is here in office he is there. He took me immediately to other room and said why the hell did this guy go to president to resign I had only said that please tell the prime minister to work in cooperation with me because president had promised me that Chandrashekar is a good man and I have known him for long time.
So he said, that’s all I meant that’s why I had taken the appointment. I said, see somebody is playing mischief. He said, I had sent a chit and said don’t resign I am only asking for co-operation. I said, Chit never came. The chit was delivered by Rangarajan Kumaramangalam to Mr Yashwant Sinha and Kamal Morarka who never gave the chit to the Prime Minister, so I made an issue afterwards and they said no. I said, what rubbish the chit was given to you at 10:45 and it is at 11 O’clock that Chandrashekar got up to say. So what did you do for 15 minutes and they said, people are not correct and misleading you and you are deliberately taking Rajiv Gandhi’s side because you don’t like Chandrashekar, you like Rajiv Gandhi and you want to be Prime Minister? I said, what rubbish you are talking about. I said, he did offer me Prime Minister and I said “No” because I had made a promise to make Chandrashekar Prime Minister. This was the kind a way of poisoning which goes on like the some of the porkies of Tamil Nadu like what you don’t say they will say you said. It’s like take 2+2 and you get 4 and instead of getting 4 they get 22.
Now, the sobering experience of Mr. Chandrashekar and he call me at night and says is there a way we can save this? So I went back to see Venkataraman and I said there has been a miscommunication some people deliberately said that and therefore want you to and if Chandrashekar makes and application with the necessary majority numbers you should give him the oath. He said I will not give him the oath. Chandrashekar was former arrangement and this cannot go on like this see, Congress must participate in the coalition and I said then you will give Chandrashekar Oath? He said, yes. If you come up with a joint list than I will give the Oath to Chandrashekar for PM again. So I came back and met Rajiv Gandhi and I said, listen do you want this government to survive? He said, what survive, it’s all over now and let’s prepare for elections. I said, there is still one more possibility which the president had told me and you can talk to him and confirm. So he picks the RAX Telephone which when you pick just dial the phone number and you get only the person entitled to have it picks it up; it’s a secret phone. Rajiv was part of the government and he had said, he should have it so he had the secret telephone, So he called up on that, the President confirmed that he will give the Oath if there is a coalition and its good for you also. Meantime I got the information from Paramacharya (Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswati) under no circumstances there should be an election because Rajiv Gandhi is in danger. So, I knew LTTE and all wanted to murder him. Paramacharya told me to do whatever it takes to get his (Rajiv) consent. (this is in Tamil)
Anyway I started pleading with them he said, you are asking me or ordering me. I said, do I have the right to order you tell me. He said, yes. So I said, I am ordering you. So he said, Ok. So in the coalition how many ministers you want, I said 26. 26 yours and 26 ours. Rajiv Gandhi said, “You are only 54 and you want 26?” and I said, we need to keep this flock together.
Sree Iyer: This flock is harder to keep and maintain.
Rajiv Gandhi: One condition, you are Finance Minister.
Dr Swamy: I said, Yeah
Rajiv Gandhi: Shall I insist on you becoming Deputy Prime Minister?
Dr Swamy: I said, it won’t work and this time you need to go through it, it won’t work but you can make Narsimha Rao and I drew up the list. Chandrashekar Prime Minister all 5 Years with a promise he will not be disturbed. Narsimha Rao Deputy Prime Minister, with any portfolio he wants except Finance, I will be third rank I mean Devi Lal would also be there so 2 Deputy Prime Ministers and then myself, Finance. I got it typed in Rajiv’s house and it was 2AM in the morning. Somebody had tipped Yashwant and Kamal so they were also present so I walked in, I said Chandrashekar, we cannot have elections because we don’t have party or the name; I have Janata Party we are all members of it but none of us work in the booth. We don’t have anybody in the booth so all went to Janata Dal so why don’t we wait till we develop a party structure?
I also told him that because it was Paramacharya’s blessings by which he became prime minister, because I had taken him to meet Paramacharya when he wanted to be Prime Minister. I said because of Paramacharya’s blessings only this had happened. Paramacharya asked him to bow his head and he put both his feet on it. I thought it is an unusual way but he said that is how he is transferring energy and by which he will become. When I said Paramacharya, he said “theek hai, sadhu sant to aise he bolenge” and I said, because of his blessings “unhone aapko pradhanmantri banaya tha” (he made you prime minister) and now you can’t say that. He said, tell me what you want. I said, you be Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao becomes Deputy Prime Minister so he froze and asked me why him? I said he is Congress representative and most reliable man and you can run the show and he won’t come in your way and told him these are the names.
Then Choutala was there and Chimanbhai Patel was also there, Mulayam Singh was also there and he said Swamy should be made Finance Minister etc etc then Yashwant Sinha, Kamal Morarka says, do you see the game being played Mr Party President; so he turns on the says Rajiv Gandhi’s name is burnt and the whole world is now condemning him de-stabilizers and because our press was also condemning him and it was a popular sport and it was all fueled by the BJP at that time and said check the paper, I asked them to show me one international paper and they said, I don’t have all this with me now tomorrow I will send you the cutting. It was actually only in Indian Newspapers and it was all planted. Chandrashekar then asked me, what is wrong if we go ahead with the election. I said, we will lose. He said, why? I said, we don’t have booth people; you can’t win an election like this. He said, no Indira Gandhi in 1971 had won and had nobody in any booth which is true but I said, Indira Gandhi by than was already 5 years Prime Minister and she had built a massive following in the bureaucracy with Haksar and all the officers. Every returning officer was ready to favor her and then Bangladesh was looming and there was a crisis. He said, let’s go for elections and start canvassing with us. I said, Paramacharya told and you said sadhu sent to kehte rahte hai and I said these guy is gone. He asked me how many seats we will get, I said 25. He said 25 out of 544? I said yes. He said, we will get 350 – I said I don’t know but 25 is what you will get. We got ultimately 5 and we went to election and it was a disaster and Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and Paramacharya never forgave Chandrashekar; he got 5 seats and he was finished and in the end Chandrashekar got cancer and died.
Sree Iyer: That’s sad. Nice man.
Dr Swamy: The way to hell is paved with good intentions.