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‘Atalji Suggested We Be Ready For The Police’ | Excerpt from L.K. Advani's Book

L.K. Advani, then president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, was arrested and imprisoned during the Emergency for nineteen months. For a brief period, his fellow prisoner in Bangalore was Atal Behari Vajpayee.

‘Atalji Suggested We Be Ready For The Police’ | Excerpt from L.K. Advani's Book
‘Atalji Suggested We Be Ready For The Police’ | Excerpt from L.K. Advani's Book Photograph by Jitender Gupta

L.K. Advani, then president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, was arrested and imprisoned during the Emergency for nineteen months. For a brief period, his fellow prisoner in Bangalore was Atal Behari Vajpayee. “Prison is meant to be a punishment,” wrote Morarji Desai in the foreword to the 1978 edition of A Prisoner’s Scrap-Book. “But the satyagrahi converts it into a challenge for deepening his political faith and his personal capabilities.”

BANGALORE. THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 1975: It is around 7.30 in the morning. The telephone starts ringing. Shyam Nandan Mishra (Shyambabu), with whom I am sharing a first floor room at the MLA’s hostel here, picks up the receiver, but hands it over to me, saying: “It’s for you.”… The police, the message concludes, may shortly be calling for Atal Behari Vajpayee and myself…[I then] hastened to Atalji’s room to convey the news to him. We conferred briefly and decided that neither of us should evade arrest. Let them come and pick us up whenever they want…. Soon, Atalji arrived and suggested that we have our breakfast and be ready for the police….While we were at the table a party worker came in to tell us that the police had arrived and were waiting outside…we were met by a police off­icial who told us that they had come to arrest us. Accompanied by the officials, we went upstairs to our respective rooms to pack our things…. Atalji and I prepared a joint statement condemning the arrest of J.P. and other leaders, denouncing the Emergency and aff­irming that June 26, 1975 would have the same historic significance in the annals of ind­ependent India as August 9, 1942.

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