During the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, for the first time, Congress put up candidates, especially in Jammu region, on communal basis, which helped the Congress to gain more seats in the Jammu region. Even at that time, it was analyzed that this experiment will be repeated in Punjab also, where the Congress will play a divisive role and use of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was a part of that plan.
How this group had sabotaged every effort by first Indira Gandhi and later by Rajiv Gandhi to settle the Punjab issue is a horrific story, and how Punjab had to face bloodshed. Indira Gandhi was completely in the clutches of this "gang" and ultimately she lost her life, and the country was brought to a situation of unrest and terrorism. Rajiv Gandhi had realized this much later in 1986 when he started taking steps to retrieve the situation and get rid of this "gang."
Everyone knows that during Indira Gandhi's time and later for sometime during Rajiv Gandhi's regime, Arun Nehru was extremely powerful, and even senior Cabinet Ministers used to be scared of him and used to address him as "sir." He was the man who twice scuttled the settlement with Akalis on the pleas that if the Government accepted Akalis' demands, Congress will lose Haryana Assembly elections. This happened twice in November 1982 itself at the last moment and even P.C. Alexander, who was Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister, and was a part of the negotiations with the Akalis, has mentioned in his book how at the last moment the programme to send then Home Secretary, T.N. Chaturvedi, to Amritsar with the formula by a special plane, to meet the Akalis and announce it on TV, was cancelled by Indira Gandhi herself and this had done great harm. Alexander himself was present in that official Cabinet Committee meeting held at his residence where the formula was agreed and Akalis had also agreed to accept it, only an official announcement was to be made. This, she had done under pressures and persuasion from Arun Nehru and Fotedar, etc.
Fotedar s itting at 1 Akbar Road knew every development taking place and he immediately used to inform the then Haryana Chief Minister, Bhajan Lal. Bhajan Lal was acting on his advice only. This group had succeeded in persuading Rajiv Gandhi to induct Mufti Sayeed in his ministry as a minister, so that Dr. Farooq Abdullah could be kept at a distance.
Arun Nehru in 1985 and early 1986 was behaving like a Mughal ruler. He managed to get the locks of Babri Masjid opened in early 1986. For this VHP, RSS and BJP had always been praising him. From his heart he was more close to RSS-BJP than being a Congressman.
After the 1984 Sikh massacre following Indira Gandhi's assassination, once I asked BJP leader A.B. Vajpayee, with whom, I had good relations, that why don't they take up in Parliament the role of Arun Nehru and Bhajan Lal in organizing the anti-Sikh riots? He said: "We will not attack Arun Nehru but we will take up Bhajan Lal's role." This was the clout Arun Nehru had with BJP leaders because Arun Nehru was a hardliner, pro-BJP-RSS or the Saffron Parivar. Arun Nehru was equally very close to the VHP top man, Ashok Singal, whose younger brother, an IPS officer, B.P. Singal, was Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry under Arun Nehru as Minister of State for Internal Security, and later B.P. Singal was named as co-accused in the Check-pistol corruption case against Arun Nehru.
There was a strong nexus between Arun Nehru, Fotedar, Shiv Shankar, then Law Minister, and Gopi Arora, a senior bureaucrat about whom Rajiv Gandhi discovered much later and had even refused to meet him when Gopi had come from the World Bank on leave and was waiting for an appointment for one month. As Fotedar had disclosed in his book, Rajiv Gandhi's Presidential speech for the Bombay session of the Congress in December 1985, where Rajiv had talked about power-brokers, was drafted by Gopi Arora. Even Rajiv Gandhi's infamous remark at the Boat Club rally which has been a black-spot on Rajiv Gandhi, where he had said: "Jab Bada Ped Girta Hai to Dharti hilti hai" (when some big tree falls), the earth shakes, was also got written in Urdu by Gopi Arora from a Muslim lyric writer. Gopi Arora, though professed to be a leftist, was in fact a fellow traveller like Arun Nehru and Fotedar.
There was an understanding that T.N. Chaturvedi will replace Krishnaswami Rao Saheb as Cabinet Secretary but Arun Nehru and Fotedar group manipulated in a way that T.N. Chaturvedi was appointed as CAG and P.K. Kaul, a Kashmiri was brought as Cabinet Secretary. M.M. Wali, another Kashmiri was brought as Home Secretary. This was the hold Arun Nehru-Fotedar combination was having. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, this "Gang" had complete hold on the administrative setup.
Arun Nehru had complete hold, as Minister of state for Internal Security, on the intelligence agencies and he also started controlling State Governors. All the intelligence reports used to be filtered through Arun Nehru to the Prime Minister whereas there was a time when the Director of the Intelligence Bureau used to walk straight to the room of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. It was a tradition from the times of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar patel. But Rajiv Gandhi was getting filtered reports and Arun Nehru had started deciding what should be given to the Prime Minister. This was a very dangerous game plan.
When an attack took place at an RSS Shakha in Daresi ground, Ludhiana and many persons were killed, Arun Nehru rushed to Ludhiana, along with Bombay Police Commissioner Reberio, and posted him in Punjab. Narsimha Rao was the Home Minister at that time and Arun Nehru had gone to Punjab even without informing Narsimha Rao. In the evening, Rao spoke to me and said: "Chawlaji, I was not even informed by Arun Nehru that he was going to Ludhiana." Rao was a highly competent Home Minister. He was shifted to Human Resources Development Ministry in September 1985 and for a few months, S.B. Chavan was appointed as Home Minister. Chavan was a good human being and non-controversial. A few months later, he was shifted and Buta Singh was brought as Home Minister. When Buta Singh was appointed as Home Minister he was in London looking after the treatment of his wife. Arun Nehru had rung him up and informed him about his shifting to the Home Ministry. Although Buta Singh was the senior minister, but he used to address Arun Nehru who was his junior as "sir." R.D. Pradhan, who belonged to Maharashtra cadre, was the Home Secretary and he was more loyal to Rajiv Gandhi than Arun Nehru. He was an efficient Home Secretary. Arun Nehru, having full control over the intelligence agencies, was manipulating everything in the administration.