Sharma hits out at Modi for insulting Indira Gandhi

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Saturday, taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making a comment on former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, asked him to to stop “insulting” former heads of government.

He also noted that “she would not have said anything to her ministers in presence of any other person”.

“Stop insulting former Prime Ministers. Change the narrative and mindset. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh to Indira Gandhi, it is a long list.

“When you insult them, you do not insult Indira and Nehru, you also insult Lal Bahadur Shastri and Morarji Desai who demonetised high-value currency in 1978,” said Sharma at the 89th AGM of industry chamber Ficci.

Modi on Friday said that demonetisation should have been done in 1971 when Indira Gandhi was heading the government, referring to former bureaucrat Madhav Godbole’s book in which he has recorded how then Finance Minister Y.B. Chavan had recommended demonetisation to curb ill-gotten and hidden wealth.

He had said Gandhi turned down the proposal, telling Chavan whether he expected the Congress to never contest another election.

“In 1971, more than 45 years back, I was 17 years, Modjiji was 19 or 20 years of age. It is interesting to know that he had this knowledge what Indira Gandhi had said during that time.

“He mentioned Godbole’s book. Madhav Godbole was later the Home Secretary of India. But in 1971, he was the special assistant to India’s Finance Minister Y.B. Chavan.

“I don’t think Indira Gandhi would call the personal secretary and others in a meeting along with the Finance Minister. One can write anything about anyone after he or she dies,” added Sharma.

“Which PM will talk to the Finance Minister in front of his personal assistants?” he asked.

“Some write the truth, and some write fictions. Who will you ask? Y.B. Chavan is no more, Indira ji not there. It was a discussion between the two, the third person is writing about it and the fourth person is spreading it,” said Sharma, adding that the recommendations of Wanchoo committee to demonetise high-currency notes was accepeted by Indira Gandhi in 1976 which was a matter of record.

He later said it was sad and outrageous to have insulted Indira Gandhi on Vijay Diwas – a day commemorated every year on December 16 as a mark of military victory over Pakistan in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

“It is sad 1971 was the year when India gave Indira Gandhi a massive mandate. This was day to salute Indira Gandhi and not insult her,” said Sharma.

Hitting out at Modi for calling himself a fakir, Sharma said: “I do not have that kind of a wardrobe but I will not call myself a fakir. We are public servants. We must serve people and understand their pain. We must all have humility.”

Sharma also said during the session that reforms needed to be an ongoing process and this started way back in 1950s with Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, which was carried forward by Rajiv Gandhi.

“It was in their tenures that the major reforms in India’s manufacturing, services particularly the IT and communications, telecom were announced. It was under the able leadership of Rajiv Gandhi that India saw the first big revolution in IT,” he said.

–IANS

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