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Last act of Gandhi: Engulfed in unprecedented violence in Delhi



Mahatma Gandhi

Just nine days after ending his last fast on January 18, 1948, to bring sanity in Delhi which was engulfed in unprecedented communal violence, and three days before he was assassinated on January 30, weak and weary 79-year-old Mahatma Gandhi was visiting the Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki Dargah in Mehrauli.

It was freezing cold in Delhi and he reached there before 8 a.m. to see the damage done to it during the communal orgy. He was very upset that in the name of religion, Muslims were attacked in their own land. He was there with Maulana Azad and Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur. Even though it was Urs time there, yet the mood was sombre and Bapu was unwell as he was on fast till recently.

After this holy place was attacked and vandalised, many local Muslims left their homes for safer places. Even staffers of the Dargah abandoned it as they feared for their lives. They too moved to safer places.

Those were the days when only villages constituted the entire Mehrauli area. IIT and various South Delhi colonies like Green Park, Hauz Khas and Safderjung Development Area(SDA) came up only after mid 50s.

Pyare Lal Nayar, Bapu’s PA, writes in ‘Mahatma Gandhi Purnahuti’, “Bapu was devastated to see some part of the dargah damaged. It was being attacked by refugees coming from Pakistan. They were given make-shift accommodation close to the Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki Dargah by the government.”

At the dargah, he appealed to everybody to live peacefully. He asked refugees to rebuild the damaged area. Gandhiji had asked Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to get the dargah repaired as it had sustained extensive damage during the riots.

Further, Gandhiji asked Nehru to allocate Rs 50,000 for the damages. Of course, it was a huge amount in those days. After his visit, Gandhi himself wrote, as per his collected works (Volume 98 pg 98-99): “Esteemed as second only to the shrine at Ajmer, it (the Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki Dargah) is visited every year not only by Muslims but by thousands of non-Muslims too.”

Before leaving the dargah, Gandhiji told the large assembly, “I have come on a pilgrimage. I request Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs who have come here with cleansed hearts to take a vow that they will never allow strife to raise its head, but will live in amity, united as friends and brothers. We must purify ourselves and meet even our opponents with love.”

Visited shrines only twice

In his 744-day stay in Delhi between April 12, 1915, and the fateful January 30, 1948, he visited religious places only twice even though he was a devout Hindu. He inaugurated the Birla Mandir on September 22, 1939, on the condition that the entry of dalits would not be barred there.

The second time when he visited any shrine, it was the dargah. Yes, he lived in a tiny room at Valmiki Mandir in Delhi where he used to teach kids of Valmiki families. That black board is still intact which was used by none other than Gandhiji during his classes to teach his students.

Bapu stayed at Valmiki Mandir in then Reading Road (now Mandir Marg) for exactly 214 days from April 1, 1946 to June 10, 1947. Here Louis Fischer used to interview him before writing his great biography ‘The Life of Mahatma Gandhi’.

“This shrine was subjected to the wrath of mobs. The Muslims living in the vicinity for the last 800 years had to leave. Though Muslims love the shrine, today no Muslim can be found anywhere near it. It is the duty of the Hindus, Sikhs, the officials and the government to open the shrine again and wash off this stain on us.

“The time has come when both India and Pakistan must unequivocally declare to the majorities in each country that they will not tolerate desecration of religious places, be they small or big. They should also undertake to repair the places damaged during riots,” Gandhiji had said.

Bakhtiyar Kaki Dargah comes alive every year during autumn when ‘Phool Walon Ki Sair’, the annual Delhi festival which celebrates communal harmony, takes place here. It is indeed a tribute to Gandhiji who stood firm that India has to survive on secular ethos.

The seven-day festival was revived by the then Prime Minister Nehru in 1961. During the festival, both Hindus and Muslims offer floral ‘chaadar’ and ‘pankha’ at the dargah. Floral ‘pankha’ and canopy are also offered at the ancient temple of Devi Yogmaya, also in Mehrauli.

Alas, there is no plaque at the dargah that can give an idea that this place has very strong connections with Gandhiji. Sadly enough, those who work at the dargah have no clue as to why Gandhiji came here on January 27, 1948.

By: Vivek Shukla

(The writer is a senior journalist)


Pilot stays in hunt for bigger role, to be rewarded in 2021 by high command



Sachin Pilot

Jaipur/New Delhi, Aug 11 : The can may well have been kicked down the road in Rajasthan but the vexed leadership issue remains wide open. Contrary to popular perception, former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, who camped in Gurugram these past few days, has not beaten a hasty retreat.

Optically, he may have lost the skirmish, but he is very much in the game. This was a battle in a long drawn-out war. A war based on principles and one of anger over maltreatment.

Sources close to developments told IANS that his meeting with the Gandhi siblings – Rahul and Priyanka – at the former’s residence was one where he did not merely reveal his state of mind and reservations but was equally given cast iron assurances about the future.

Pilot, it is believed, didn’t hanker for any position but told them that belittling him by levelling charges of sedition was nothing short of outrageous. The Special Operations Group and Anti-Corruption Bureau charges were a travesty and he was pained and appalled at the charges levelled against him.

IANS has gathered that Pilot did not want to be a Deputy CM with a car and a bungalow for he had worked hard on the ground over the last six and a half years to help the Congress storm back to power in the state in the late 2018 election. To be viciously targeted by his own government was an abomination, according to him.

Apparently, he was given a fair hearing and while a decision on the party leadership in Rajasthan may have been kept in abeyance for the time being, a view will be definitely taken on this issue in early 2021. This assurance was given to him.

What is more is that Pilot has managed to get a fair and equitable settlement for all his followers, particularly those who camped with him in the last few days when they went underground. In a mockery of democracy, these MLAs were spied upon by the state CID which kept them under daily surveillance under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s orders. This was intolerable for Pilot.

These things rankled with Pilot and while he was adamant that he won’t join the BJP from the outset, he was clear that he would stay with the Congress. All he wanted was a proper hearing and a just recourse to the problems and issues that he and his followers were facing in Rajasthan.

The Gandhi siblings have also come to realise that their footprint continues to shrink with the BJP trying to topple their state governments, the most recent case being Madhya Pradesh.

They didn’t want the BJP to take advantage of the fluid situation and hence sought closure. Once Pilot had given his side of the story, it was appreciated by the siblings.

It is clear that the Congress will want to hit the ground running with a young Pilot at the helm in the race for the state in 2023. It appears that Pilot may well become Chief Minister of Rajasthan in early 2021 to prepare for the battle in late 2023.

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Political circles mourn Rahat Indori’s demise



Rahat Indori

New Delhi, Aug 12 : Condolences have poured in for noted Urdu poet Rahat Indori, who passed away on Tuesday after suffering a cardiac arrest. The poet had also tested positive for Covid-19.

Offering his condolences, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted in Hindi, “I am deeply saddened by the news of the demise of noted poet Rahat Indoriji. He was an ardent personality of Urdu admiration. He has left an indelible mark on the hearts of people by his memorable poetries. It is a great loss for the literary world. I extend my condolences to his loved ones in this hour of grief.”

“My heart sank after I got to know about your demise. It has created a vaccum in the literary world which will be difficult to fill,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted in Hindi.

Quoting pne of Indori’s couplets, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Ab na main un na baki hai zamane mere, phir bhi mashhoor hai shahron mein fasane mere… Alvida Rahat Indori sahab.”

Leader of Opposition in the Upper House, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said in his condolence message, “He will be remembered for his free, fair and fearless poetic expressions.”

“India has lost a great Urdu poet; I salute the departed soul of Rahat Indori, the voice of millions of Indians,” Azad tweeted.

Indori, a poet and painter, taught Urdu literature at the Indore University before foraying into Bollywood as a lyricist.

Among the many memorable verses he created for Hindi films are “Neend churayi meri” and “Dekho dekho jaanam” (“Ishq”), “Chori chori jab nazrein mili” (“Kareeb”), “M bole toh” and “Chhan chhan” (“Munna Bhai MBBS”), “Dil ko hazaar baar” (“Murder”), “Tumsa koi pyaara” (“Khuddar”) and the title song of “Sir”.

His popular books include “Do Kadam Aur Sahi”, “Maujood”, “Chand Pagal Hai”, “Mere Baad” and “Naraz”.

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Operation Rajasthan: Ahmed Patel the ace troubleshooter




New Delhi, Aug 11: By saving the Congress government in Rajasthan and ensuring a seemingly seamless return of rebel leader Sachin Pilot and his followers to the party fold, veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel has once again proved why his troubleshooting skills are indispensable for the party leadership.

All eyes are on Patel, whenever there is trouble brewing for the Congress. Not for nothing is the man credited with being instrumental in the smooth running of two successive UPA governments in alliance with a number of parties between 2004 and 2014.

He is still a key negotiator for the Congress, which he proved by thwarting BJP’s attempts at toppling the Gehlot government in Rajasthan, after the party’s bad experience in Madhya Pradesh.

The Congress did not want to lose the second state within six months of the Madhya Pradesh fiasco and hence fell back on the negotiating skills of its veteran leader.

In case of Sachin Pilot, it was the Congress Treasurer who managed the return of four MLAs on Day One of the revolt by the then Rajasthan Deputy CM, ensuring fissures in the Pilot camp.

Patel, a five-term Rajya Sabha member, led the party fight against the rebels and backed Ashok Gehlot to save the state government. The fight was fought on several fronts — legal team of Congress fighting it out in the courts, Gehlot holding on to his flock of MLAs, and simultaneous attempts to win over some BJP MLAs.

Patel’s style of functioning has helped build bridges between warring factions. He can take along different voices in the party and yet remain behind the curtains while conducting big political operations. He is also not loathe to give all credit to the First Family of the Congress. No surprises then that so far as optics are concerned, it was Rahul Gandhi who was in the forefront of the Pilot comeback, said a party leader.

Party sources say there were ‘Trojan horses’ in the Pilot camp who were in regular touch with the Congress leadership. Once the Pilot camp opened negotiations, the first move by the Congress was to scrap sedition charges against them by the Rajasthan Police SOG to send out feelers.

The sources said the reluctance of rebel Congress MLAs to join ranks with the BJP was anticipated by the Congress over a period of time and it seized the initiative.

Once the nod came from Rahul Gandhi, the return of Pilot and his band of followers into the party fold was worked out in typical Congress style wherein a committee was formed to listen to their grievances. Patel put together the panel led by Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi and it met the MLAs and Pilot on Monday night.

It may seem a happy ending for the Congress at the moment, but party leaders say that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was initially reluctant about the ‘ghar wapsi’ of the rebel leader though he wanted the rebel MLAs back.

He was told that the party leadership wanted Sachin Pilot back and thus not to interfere in the reconciliation process, throwing light on the tough negotiating skills of Ahmed Patel.

The party had dispatched Avinash Pandey, Randeep Singh Surjewala and Ajay Maken to show the seriousness of the party that it doesn’t want to take risks like in Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditya Scindia-led coup cost it the state government.

The sources said a task has now been cut out for the Congress managers to keep a united face after the Rajasthan political drama that played out before the nation on various platforms.

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