BJP’s former general secretary and the leader of the Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan, KN Govindacharya, has expressed his grief over the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and has spoken about his relationship with him.
In a conversation with Firstpost, he said, “Vajpayee was a guardian for us. He had been in politics before we were. I was with the BJP from 1988 to 2000, during which period he was like a guardian to me, and I was like his son.”
In October 1997, Govindacharya had said that Vajpayee is the 'mukhauta' (mask) of the party. This comment had stirred a huge controversy in the BJP. It was after this that he was sidelined from the party.
During the interview with Firstpost, Govindacharya further recalled, “I had a father-son relationship with him, and he used to teach us. I see my relationship with Atalji only in that context. It is normal for people to develop disagreements with each other."
With respect to the 'mukhauta' comment, Govindacharya said, "On 6 October 1997, Bhanupratap Shukla’s syndicated column got published in several newspapers simultaneously, which I condemned. Four days later, on 10 October, The Times of India published the same news with the reference to the 'mukhauta' comment."
The news was based on a meeting between Govindacharya and officials of the British High Commission, during which the former BJP leader was said to have made the comments.
Govindacharya says, “At that time, RSS leader Sudarshan called me up. He told me that Atalji said that he has a tape. I told him that it was a good thing, and I could get a chance to clarify. I said that if I had stated anything disrespectful, I would give up my post. The tape wasn’t found after this. I gave a reply based on memory on 23 October, when I was told to do so. Thereafter, I met Atalji on 30 October. Meanwhile, officials from the British High Commission said that the conversation had not been taped."
He further recalls, “At that time, I said to him that if I had been in his place, I would have checked the news. Atalji said, ‘Forget about it.'’”
The former BJP general secretary said, “Thereafter, Kushabhau Thakre became the president of the party, and I decided to quit the party in 2000. In May 2000, I had written to Thakre saying this, and he told me to stay till Bangaru Lakshman becomes the president and then leave. I left the party when Bangaru Lakshman became the president of the party. Although I was retained in the national executive, I started working on other causes.”
Govindacharya says he last met Vajpayee in December 2003. Remembering that meeting, he said, “My friend Mithilesh Tripathi had earlier met Atalji. When he mentioned me to him, he asked him what I was doing. He said that he wanted to meet me. Thereafter, I along with Mithilesh Tripathi, went to meet him in the first week of December 2003. He gave his best wishes to me.”
Vajpayee's personality and political career is a guiding force for the nation, Govindacharya said. He recalled, "(Vajpayee) believed that the nation is more important than the party, and the party is more important than the individual. He also held the position that trust begets trust. A principle that he believed in was that politics must be people-oriented, and not power-oriented. In 1984, the BJP won only two seats, but his ambitions did not fade away."
Speaking on aspects of Vajpayee's personality, Govindacharya said, “He ensured that despite differences among people, there was always a cordial environment. He ensured that differences in opinion were not made personal, and intentions of anybody were not questioned. He was strict with himself and kind with others.”
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Aug 20, 2018 11:57:43 IST