(B. Someswar Rao)
Housing in Lutyen’s Delhi, like ‘Z’ security or red lights atop cars, is a status symbol in the political culture evolved by the Nehru dynasty. Just as India and Bharat are different from each other, residents of Lutyen’s Delhi differ from than the ordinary residents of the country and aremore privileged. Efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the ‘VIP culture’ of those who acquire political power have failed because the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party too has, at least partly, imbibed this political culture as the privileges politicians enjoy attract people to politics(besides the chance to acquire huge illegal wealth. The late Ram Jethmalani estimated that Indian politicians and their cronies stacked Rs.1500 billionin secret Swiss bank accounts).
One of the steps by Modi to end the ‘VIP culture’ is that on July 1, the Centre had asked Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had ruled India for long, to vacate government bungalow No.35 Lodhi Road,allotted to herfor which an ordinary citizen has to pay Rs 20 lakhs a month, while she paid only Rs. 37,000 now and much less earlier,.
Many Congress leaders have protested against this “vindictive” action, defending her right to enjoy such accommodation which she has been occupying for 23 years now. Shahshi Tharoor may still be searching dictionaries for unintelligible, unpronounceable long words with which to condemn the action, for sycophancy and loyalty to a dynasty are the main qualifications for Congress leaders. It was a one month notice to vacate it by August 1.
It is to be noted that political privileges are conferred only on those Congressmen (or women) loyal to Indira dynasty and not others. This started right from the days of Indira Gandhi’s father Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first PM.
Nehru did not like Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India. So when his term ended, he was packed off from Delhi and sent to Patna in his home State, Bihar. There too he had no place to live. Hence he lived his last days in a damp room in an Ashram without medical aid. A leading and very rich lawyer, Prasad had sacrificed all for the freedom movement.
Sardar Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He was also the Home Minister and would have been the Prime Minister if Gandhi had not chosen Nehru (maybe not to be accusedof favoring Patel, a fellow Gujarati). He integrated more than 562 Princely States to make India a unified nation. His only heir, a spinster elder sister, had no house in Delhi and died in Gujarat in a small place.
- P V. Narsimha Rao, the PM succeeded by Indira loyalist Manmohan Singh, liberalized Indian economy. He kept Congress in power for a full term even when it did not have a majority. The Congress never hid its dislike for PV, whose centenary (2020) it ignored. He and the most honest Congress PM Lal Bahadur Shastri remain unmentioned at Congress meetings where party men vie with each other to praise the Gandhi dynasty. PV was not allowed to be cremated in Delhi, but it was done in Telengana his home State, without State honors. Congress leaders left the crematorium with his half burnt body on the extinguished funeral pyre. Gulzarilal Nanda, twice the acting PM, died in his rented house in Ahmedabad and the best President, APJ Abdul Kalam, who was rejected by the Congress for a second term, was confined to Rameswaram.
Sitaram Kesari, a name-sake Congress President, was literally thrown off and bundled out of Congress Head Quarters because the Gandhi clan never liked him. Though V. V. Giri was put up by Indira Gandhi against her own party’s official candidate, N. Sanjeeva Reddy and was the father of the trade union movement in India, Indira chose to ignore him as heopposed blocking the railway strike andher bid for a ‘committed judiciary’ by promoting Justice A.N. Ray as the Chief Justice of India over three seniors. When Giri died in 1980 in Chennai he was cremated there itself. None of his children or wife got posts but his successor Fakhruddin Ali Ahmend’s widow Zubeda who had several terms in Parliament. Ahmed was immortalized as the President who signed ordinances from a bathtub and proclaimed Emergency. While PV was flown off to Hyderabad, Ahmed was buried in Delhi, right opposite the Parliament building, though he hailed from Assam. He was a favourite.
- Sanjeeva Reddy, who had sworn in Indira Gandhi on her come back,chose Bengaluru to live in when his term ended, though he belonged to AP. He had no place in Delhi having defected to the Janata Party. Karnataka gave him not only the best government mansion available, Balabrui, but also a car and other facilities. Before he shifted to the bungalow, Indian Express reported, he had sold off his private car!
Sonia Gandhi occupies a government building almost one-and-half times bigger than PM house. Rahul occupies another big government house separately though single.Delhi had no place for Prasad, PV, Patel Giri, Reddy or Kalam but for years Priyanka Gandhi occupies a Government residence in Lutyen’s Delhi at nominal rent. No one dared ask the obvious: in what capacity? This special treatment to the Gandhi family seems to be becausethe party believes in dynasty rule.
A faction in the party sees Priyanka as the future Prime Minister as her brother Rahul Gandhi, heading another faction, has proved himself unfit. That explains why, all of a sudden, the sycophant Indian media suddenly replaced all stock photographs of Rahul and Priyanka by new pictures (perhaps provided by Congress publicists) that look very much like those of Rajiv and Indira.
They know that this does matter in India, where Congress Party took over the Indian National Congress, which was the freedom movement, ignoringMahatma Gandhi’s advice to wind it up and a family changes its name from Ghandy to Gandhi just to fool ignorant voters into believing they are related to Gandhiji.
Names and fake images, like VIP culture and casteism, bring votes in India.