Not-so-subtle history lessons for govt, RaGa in Prez lecture

Published: 20th November 2016 12:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th November 2016 05:36 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Never do anything in secret or anything that you would wish to hide. For the desire to hide anything means that you are afraid, and fear is bad thing and unworthy of you…” That was President Pranab Mukherjee quoting Jawaharlal Nehru’s Oct 26, 1930 letter to his 13-year-old daughter Indira from the Naini jail.

Coming at a time when secrecy has been cited as a reason to explain away the unprepared demonitisation, the quote could hardly been seen as an unintended message.The centenary lecture delivered by the president was overloaded with suggestive messages for the Congress. It was as if, the old Congressman in him, not the president of India, was citing Indira Gandhi’s political life to tell the new-generation leaders that all it takes to overcome odds is determination and grit.

“It was at the Nagpur session of the Indian National Congress in 1959 that Indiraji was first called upon to assume the leadership of the Congress party. She was then only 42 years old. During the 11 months of her presidentship, she quickly proved her mettle…’’ he said, leaving little to the imagination as to who this was meant for. Rahul Gandhi, about to assume charge of the party, was sitting on the dais.

If the Congress had grievances against him for not going into any confrontation with the Centre, even while Arunachal and Uttarakhand were put under President’s rule dismissing Congress regimes, he had answer for that too. Indira had “introduced an amendment to Article 74 as part of the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1976’’ to ensure that the President had “no elbow room’’ for “discretionary action”.

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