New Delhi, Jan. 14: The BJP has demanded that the Centre disclose the “real” facts on Operation Bluestar so that people could assess whether it was a “strategic miscalculation” and whether it was “planned on British advice”.
In a detailed statement on a claim by a Labour MP — based on recently declassified documents — that then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had authorised the Special Air Services (SAS) to help the Indian government plan the raid on the Golden Temple in 1984, BJP leader Arun Jaitley sought to rekindle the BJP’s old campaign accusing the Congress of being “anti-Sikh”.
Over the last 10 years or so, the Congress had de-activated this plank after Sonia Gandhi offered regret for Operation Bluestar and the 1984 riots and Manmohan Singh, whom she had chosen as Prime Minister and who is the first Sikh to hold the post, apologised for the same.
Jaitley today charged the then Indira Gandhi government with ignoring the build-up of extremists at the Golden Temple to contain the “moderate” Akalis. “It had hoped that moderate Sikh politicians would become irrelevant,” he said.
The BJP leader regretted that the raid had alienated the Sikh community and led to Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the anti-Sikh riots.
At the time, the BJP had opposed Sikh militancy and the demand for Khalistan but blamed Indira Gandhi for bringing matters to such a pass through “divisive” policies.
On June 14, 1984, days after the raid on the Golden Temple, Atal Bihari Vajpayee told the New York Times that “Mrs Gandhi is playing a very dangerous game. The long-term interests of the country are being sacrificed for short-term gains. But encouraging Hindu chauvinism is not going to pay. As the majority community, Hindus must be above parochial politics.”
A big reason why the BJP was decimated in the 1984 elections was that the RSS tacitly backed the Congress and spread the word that its cadre were free to vote as they pleased. A Sangh veteran, the late Nanaji Deshmukh, endorsed Indira’s Punjab policies.
Three years later, the wheel started to turn when the RSS hit upon the Ram temple “dispute” in Ayodhya and asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to begin a “movement” for temple construction. Sensing the enthusiasm on the ground and the political potential of the campaign, the RSS drafted the BJP and directed L.K. Advani to start his “yatra”.
Vajpayee was looped out. His words in 1984 against the Congress returned to haunt him after Advani’s peregrination polarised the Hindus and alienated the Muslims.
The Shiromani Akali Dal, a BJP ally, also called on the Congress-led UPA today to come clean on the alleged British role in Operation Bluestar.
“The party (Congress) had even gone to the extent of compromising national sovereignty for political gains,” party secretary Daljit Singh Cheema said in Chandigarh.
It was shocking that to solve an issue of internal security, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took the help of British forces, Cheema said.
“It amounts to a distrust of the Indian forces as well as compromise on the sovereignty of a democratic country,” the Akali leader added. “The Congress-led UPA government must come clean on the compulsions under which it had to take help from the British forces.”
Cheema asked the Union government to make public all relevant documents and tell the nation the truth behind the operation “whose wounds are still fresh in the minds of the Sikh community”.