The Rediff Special
'The price of an MP is increasing day by day. For God's
sake, take a decision immediately'
Jagjivan Ram, who found himself
for the first time out of power
since 1946, arrived at the gates of Rashtrapati
Bhavan for an interview with the President. The President sent
word to Jagjivan Ram through his secretary that the President
was too busy to grant an interview at that time. Jagjivan
Ram lost his patience and over-reacted to the situation by openly
attributing to the President casteism besides alleging that the
President had displayed a vindictive attitude and wreaked vengeance
on him for not supporting him in the 1969 presidential election.
The orchestra did not end with that. Atal Bihari Vajpayee
finally appeared on the scene in the company of Chandra Shekhar
and with his customary rhetoric declared that the President played
a conspiratorial role in joining hands with Charan Singh and
Indira Gandhi. He made it almost an electoral plank that if
his party was voted to power, the first thing they would do was
to impeach the President, little realising that such a statement
would only sully the image of the highest office of the land and
would not bring any credit to himself. Perhaps in their desperate
mood they were not able to discern the damage they were causing
to the august office of the President vis-a-vis the country.
However, when the President took the drastic step of dissolving
the Lok Sabha, strangely they were united in blaming him. They
did not look upon the decisions with either charity or philosophical
resignation. They did not even concede that the President had
the right to exercise his discretion in such an imbroglio, and
act according to his own conscience in the absence of a constitutional
precedent. According to Sub-clause 2 of Article 75 of the Indian
Constitution: 'Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure
of the President.' Of course, the President's powers are the
subject of national debate.
After their noisy demonstration before the Rashtrapati Bhavan
iron gates, the frustrated Janata leaders particularly Jagjivan
Ram and Chandra Shekhar dispatched a lengthy letter to the President
criticising the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, on the plea that the
President granted four days to Y B Chavan, and nearly 20 days
to Charan Singh whereas Jagjivan Ram was denied even a
few hours. To this lengthy letter, the President sent a laconic
one-sentence reply: 'the version given in your letter is
not the correct version.'
Obviously, this curt reply from the Head of the State, though
appreciated by some, led the group of Jagjivan Ram, Chandra
Shekhar and other Janata leaders into uncontrollable fury and they began
to issue scurrilous statements to the press. The President in
all dignity and decorum that goes with the highest office of the
land chose to remain silent. It is learnt that before the President
decided to dissolve Parliament, Daftary, the constitutional
expert went to him and said 'The country is passing through
a long crisis. The price of an MP is increasing day by day on
the bargaining counter. For God's sake, take a decision immediately.'
Kind courtesy: From Farm House to Rashtrapati Bhavan, by I V Chalapati Rao and P
Audinarayana Reddy, Booklinks Corporation, Hyderabad, 1989.
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