| Atal Bihari Vajpayee hugs LK Advani at the Lucknow rally. (AFP)
Lucknow, April 5: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today chose his home constituency and the capital of Uttar Pradesh to lash out at the “false propaganda” that he was a police informer during the Quit India Movement in 1942.
“I did not give evidence against anyone. I did not inform against anyone. I was not an informer for the British,” an obviously pained Vajpayee thundered.
“There has been false propaganda against me that in 1942, I sided with the British, that I was arrested and then let off, so there must have been some connivance,” Vajpayee said.
The Prime Minister claimed that he had never done anything that he should be ashamed of. “I was a young high school student and I also joined the 1942 movement. Since the British had started arresting the activists of the (Quit India) movement, I was packed off to my village. There, too, the movement was going on and I joined it. I was arrested and was released for lack of evidence.
“Maine kisi ki mukhbari nahin ki, kisi ki chugli nahin ki (I did not inform on anyone. I did not complain against anyone),” Vajpayee said.
Arguing against cheap political potshots at one’s political opponents, the Prime Minister said: “There is a limit to character assassination just as there should be a limit to what people are willing to do to win an election. We should not cross the limits of decency and if someone from our side also does it, then that, too, is wrong.”
Vajpayee criticised such extreme campaign strategies suggesting that the introduction of permanent bitterness in a political debate was uncalled for. “Elections last only for a couple of days but life is long,” he reminded his fellow politicians.
Vajpayee also took a swipe at those who suggested there were differences between him and his deputy L.K. Advani. “Let me make it very clear that I would not have been Prime Minister without his help. I was chosen Prime Minister unanimously.”
He recounted how a few minutes earlier, while welcoming the Bharat Uday yatra at Lucknow’s Ambedkar ground, he had hugged Advani. “Some photographers missed the shot, so they asked me to hug him again. I asked them what would happen if some others missed that also' What would I have to do then'”
Vajpayee was full of self-praise when it came to the performance of his government. He recalled how Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had referred to his promise of an 8 per cent growth as “Mungeri Lal ke sunahare sapne” (the delusions of Mungeri Lal — a TV character known for daydreaming). “I had replied that it is true that we dream but we also know how to convert our dreams into reality. Now that we have reached 10.4 per cent growth in the last quarter, what does the Congress have to say'” he asked.
While Vajpayee argued for decency, minutes before his arrival, BJP leaders of Uttar Pradesh were trying to keep the crowd entertained with personal attacks on Opposition leaders.
Making fun of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s socialism, a BJP Yuva Morcha leader told the crowd: “Kaju hai plate mein, whiskey gilas mein. Utara hai samajwad ab Safai nivas mein (The plate is full of cashew nuts and the glass full of whisky. This is the way socialism has come down to Mulayam Singh’s village, Safai).
Another leader compared Vajpayee’s marital status and that of Sonia’s saying: “One gave up getting married because of the country, the other gave up her country for marriage.”
Another claimed that unlike Annie Besant, who came to the Congress for the love of India, “Sonia came to India for the love of the Indian Prime Minister’s son”.
Yet another referred to Amar Singh, the Samajwadi Party general secretary, as Amar Singh “Yadav”, who wanted to make Mulayam Singh Yadav the Prime Minister. He compared the possibility to that of all animals in a jungle choosing the owl as their king. Further comparing Mulayam Singh to an owl he said: “You can see that Mulayam Singhji’s neck is also non-existent.”