Letters | Jul 23, 2012
  • History from the Horse’s Mouth
    Jul 23, 2012

    Outlook’s July 9 cover poses the question: Was Shastri poisoned? Yes, either by Pakistani agents or Indian political rivals. The Pakistanis were seething in indignation by the defeat inflicted by Shastri in the ’65 war, ridiculing him as the dhoti-clad man, whereas power-seekers back home were frustrated by his meteoric rise in popularity. Besides, his honesty instilled fear in many.

    J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad

    This is nothing but sensational journalism. It is a fact that Lal Bahadur Shastri died of a heart attack. It was the RSS and Jan Sangh which spread rumours and brainwashed Lalita Shastri that her husband was poisoned. When he was alive, these very forces would criticise him as they never had any love for Congress leaders. It’s been 40 years since Shastri died and now you want to know if he died a natural death!

    Purushotam C. Bafna, Gokak, Karnataka

    Kuldip Nayar confirms what two of Shastri’s biographers—D.R. Mankekar and C.P. Srivastava—said long ago: that, regardless of all his ‘proper’ public pronouncements, Nehru actually wanted his daughter to succeed him. Equally, Indira’s hostility towards Shastri was no secret. Had Shastri not died in 1966, she’d surely have forced a leadership contest after the 1967 election.

    Sharadchandra Panse, Pune

    Was it to assuage her guilt that Indira, after many years, made Shastri’s son the office-bearer of the Congress?

    Jawahar P. Sekhar, Dubai

    Shastri was one of the finest, most honest and simplest prime ministers India has ever had. I wish we had a leader of his stature in the corruption-ridden scenario of today.

    Chankya Pandia, Newark

    Nayar in his book says that at a reception hosted by Kamal Amrohi in Bombay for his film Pakeezah, Shastri didn’t know who Meena Kumari was. It could not have been the premiere surely, since Pakeezah was out in late ’71! Must have been that epic 14-year gestation.

    Anant Ram Gaur, New Delhi

    Incredible! Kuldip Nayar is a walking history book.

    Lakhjeet, Munich

    Kuldip Nayar’s book is one more evidence of how historians’ accounts vary so much from those who have a grandstand view of things.

    H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana, Mysore

    Since most of the people he comments on are not around today, it affects the credibility of Mr Nayar’s comments.

    R.V. Subramanian, Gurgaon

    Kuldip Nayar, shall we say, is just a sophisticated version of Khushwant Singh.

    Ramki, Delhi

    Khushwant Singh is: that’s how I saw it. Kuldip Nayar is: that’s how it was.

    Santosh Gairola, Hsinchu

    Compulsive reading. That’s Kuldip Nayar’s book.

    A.K. Saxena, Delhi

    It is surprising to know that a leader of Jinnah’s stature did not visualise the migrations, murders and riots that would ensue on India’s partition along communal lines. Either he was incredibly naive, or his words— ‘what have I done’—were just crocodile tears.

    Venkatesh G. Iyer, Chennai

    Jinnah apologists still love to quote his speech in Karachi after a separate Pakistan had been obtained to say he was not communal. But that was just a politician changing his rhetoric after the objective he desired had been met, over the dead bodies of millions of humans.

    Babloo Sr, Kansas

    According to Nayar, Patel apparently argued with Sheikh Abdullah that as Kashmir was a Muslim-majority area, it should go to Pakistan. How come Patel did not apply the same logic in Hyderabad?

    V.R. Ganesan, New Jersey

    Who can believe what Sheikh Abdullah says. Rafi Ahmed Kidwai arrested him on charges of “destroying confidential state documents” relating to the negotiations on Kashmir by the maharajah!

    Pinaki S. Ray, Adelaide

    It’s only due to Nehru’s sentiment-derived political mistake that we have the mess of Kashmir. Had he allowed India to give up its claim on the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and insisted on retaining just Jammu and Ladakh, the dreaded K word would not have blighted Indo-Pak relations for these many years.

    G. Niranjan Rao, Hyderabad

    Virender Prabhakar’s picture of Nehru and Indira in your issue symbolised the passing of the baton perfectly.

    M.K. Saini, Delhi

    Kuldip Nayar is among the country’s original hypocrite candlewallah brigade.

    Maha, New Jersey

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