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V C Shukla joins BJP
March 13, 2004 15:19 IST
Former Union Minister V C Shukla today merged his Rashtriya Janatantrik Dal with the Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi. The former Congress leader admitted the Emergency was a 'mistake.'
Rafiq Sadiq, former All India Congress Committee member and the son of a former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, also joined the BJP. He described the Congress-People's Democratic Party Government in the state as "anti-people and anti-democratic."
Welcoming both into the party, BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu said the exodus of 'traditional Congressmen' and members of the Nehru-Gandhi family showed they had lost faith in the Congress leadership.
"This election will mark the ultimate decline of the Congress party from the national horizon," he declared.
Shukla, who had floated the Dal after the Sharad Pawar-Sangma split in the Nationalist Congress Party, said he was joining the BJP as getting a symbol for his party for the coming election was posing a problem. He recalled his long-standing 'friendship' with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee since the time they joined Parliament in 1957.
"The Emergency was a mistake. Even Indira Gandhi admitted it before her death," Shukla, a close associate of the late Sanjay Gandhi, said.
To avoid being jailed for corrupt election practices in June 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, and in her words brought democracy 'to a grinding halt.'
Asked whether he would work under the same people he had jailed during the Emergency, Shukla said, "I did not arrest them in the first place. Secondly, nobody works under anybody. We are all colleagues in a party and work as a team."
Shukla said he had been a Union minister for long and would like to play a role in national politics.
Asked why it took him five years to appreciate the National Democratic Alliance's 'good governance,' he said, "I have been in the Congress for almost four decades. I am a senior person and I cannot take any impulsive decision. It has to be a well-thought out act."
Shukla met Vajpayee earlier in the day.
Sadiq, vice chairman of the Pradesh Congress Committee poll campaigning committee till last week and earlier President of the Srinagar District Congress Committee, regretted the Congress, dominated by stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, "has turned out to be an outfit of self-seekers, rank opportunists, sycophants and flunkies."
"Devoid of ideology, it lacks a program of social and national reconstruction. There is no intra-party democracy. Decisions are forced down the throat of dedicated Congressmen," he said.