January 11, 2020
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'Pv's Affair Upset Indira'

Extracts from Jalagam Vengala Rao's autobiography:

'Pv's Affair Upset Indira'

On Mrs Gandhi's alleged remarks against Narasimha Rao: "I never came across such an inefficient and indecisive leader. I made him chief minister, believing senior colleagues like Kandubhai, Tripathi, Uma Shankar Dixit, that he would provide efficient administration in the state.  "PV has done nothing except flirting around with Lekshmikanthamma. If she asked him to sit, he will sit and if she asked him to stand, he will do so. This in spite of being rather old and having five grown-up daughters and three sons. I did like the character. His eldest son used to frequently come and complain to me. I used to feel sad about the whole affair and pity the boy. 

"Once Lekshmikanthamma came to me and told me that if I was willing to make her the chief minister, PV will give his consent. I felt enough is enough and should not see their faces again. Only after that incident have I taken the decision to entrust you (Vengala) the job of chief ministership."

On Tamil Nadu governor Marri Chenna Reddy: Just four days before Sanjay Gandhi's death, the prime minister's son had proposed replacing Chenna Reddy with T. Anjaiah as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. But Sanjay died in a plane crash. On hearing the news, Reddy, instead of condoling the death, preferred to spend time with his friends at his residence and celebrate it by distributing sweets to his near and dear ones. This was revealed to me by B. Niranjan Rao, a legislator from Malleswaram in Krishna district. (Vengala Rao does not tell us if Niranjan Rao was actually present at Reddy's residence.)

  On the Emergency: It was about midnight when I received the phone call. It was Mrs Gandhi informing me that she would be at the radio station in the morning to announce to the nation the imposition of Emergency in the country.

But for me no one else knew about what was happening in Andhra Pradesh. A  select few in Delhi were also in the know. Even the then home minister, K. Brahma-nanda Reddy, was kept in the dark. The minister was awakened at a very late hour by minister of state for home, Om Mehta, only to seek his signatures on a file. On which file or paper he (Reddy) was signing, he himself doesn't know. 

Mrs Gandhi and Siddhartha Shankar Ray met the President at Rashtrapati Bhawan and apprised him of the need to impose Emergency since the Opposition leaders were bent upon creating unrest in the country. Later Mrs Gandhi summoned her Cabinet for a meeting at her residence at 5.30 am. Just before getting into the car at 6 am she told them that she was going to impose Emergency in the country and was proceeding to the radio station for the same purpose.

On the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh: Sanjay's death did not deter Mrs Gandhi from replacing Reddy with T. Anjaiah. Between 1978 and 1983, four chief ministers were changed. Laxity and corruption crept into the government. In 1983, K. Vijayabhaskara Reddy handed over the reins to the nine-month-old Telugu Desam party led by NTR on a platter.

The Congress didn't learn any lessons from the past. Again three chief ministers were changed between 1989 and 1993. Vijayabhaskara Reddy, who claimed that he got sufficient time to refurbish the dwindling image of the party did as anticipated—he handed over power on a golden platter to NTR.

I felt very sad that my prediction had come true!

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