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HVK Archives: The Dynasty - Book Extract - Part 2 of 3 - Indira

The Dynasty - Book Extract - Part 2 of 3 - Indira - The Asian Age

S S Gill ()
10 December 1996

Title : The Dynasty - Book Extract - Part 2 of 3 - Indira
Author : S S Gill
Publication : The Asian Age
Date : December 10, 1996

Perhaps the most worrisome development was the worsening
of the communal situation owing to communalisation of
politics. Two specific factors may be noted here. One,
Jana Sangh had fully exploited its position as the senior
partner of the Janata Party. It had not only broadened
its organisational base, it also inducted a large number
of its followers in the government services.

Secondly, the conversion of nearly 1300 Harijans to Islam
in Meenakshipuram in April 1981 severely hurt the Hindus.
No other incident has given such a fillip to Hindu commu-
nalism or done so much damage to the cause of communal

As to the situation on the ground, there were 2185 cases
of communal riots during this period, and they resulted
in 2394 deaths. These figures are higher than any other
5-year period since Independence. The severity of commu-
nal violence in Muradabad, Aligarh, Biharsharief, Baroda,
Malegaon, Bhiwandi, Belgaum, and the occurrence of fre-
quent riots even in south India showed how the cancer of
communalism was spreading in the body politic.

It was also observed that whereas earlier Mrs Gandhi used
to rush to the site of serious riots and show special
solicitude for the minority community, now her responses
were milder both in word and deed. Perhaps, owing to the
alienation of the Muslims as a result of the Emergency
onslaught, she was now trying to cultivate the Hindu
constituency. A clear indication of this change was given
by C.M. Stephen when in 1983 he declared, "...the wave-
length of Hindu culture and Congress culture is the
same." In August 1980, Muradabad was rocked by one of the
worst communal riots. Mrs Gandhi paid a hurried visit to
the city two months after the visit. She described the
riots as part of a conspiracy to undermine the stability
of the government. In May 1984 she assured the majority
community that, "If there is injustice to them or if they
did not get their rights, then it would be dangerous to
the integrity of the country."

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