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Former President Narayanan
Speaks Up

By Manava Samskriti

03 March, 2005
Manava Samskriti

Breaking his silence over two years after stepping down from office, former president K R Narayanan has criticised former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his handling of the post-Godhra situation in Gujarat and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of stalling a second term for him.

"He [Vajpayee] did not do anything effective. I had sent him letters. I had talked to him directly," Narayanan said in a freewheeling interview to Congress MLA P T Thomas carried in a recent issue of Malayalam magazine Manava Samskriti.

Claiming there was a conspiracy involving the state and central governments behind the 2002 Gujarat riots, he said if the military was given powers to shoot at the perpetrators of violence, recurrence of violence in Gujarat could have been prevented.

"I had asked military to be sent to suppress the riots. The Centre had the constitutional responsibility and powers to send military if the state government asked. The military was sent. But if the military was given powers to shoot at the perpetrators of violence, recurrence of tragedies in Gujarat could have been avoided. However, both the state and central government did not do so," Narayanan said.

He said the BJP came in the way of his becoming president for the second time, fearing that he would intervene in the implementation of their "hidden agenda," especially in the sphere of education.

"The BJP government had hidden agenda in many areas, including education. Securing the reins of education to spread their ideology was their aim. I had intervened in the appointment of certain vice-chancellors. Those, including Murli Manohar Joshi (the then human resources development minister) had resentment about that," the former president said.

"My interventions were democratic and constitutional. Above all, the interests of secularism was involved," he said.

"They had received legal advice on the possibility of my intervention if I continued in president's office. At a certain stage, they told me that they had decided not to support anybody for more than one term in the posts of president and vice-president. Their aim was to get rid of me and they carried out that mission quite efficiently," he said.

"They might have thought that it would be difficult for them to lead the government with a person ideologically poles apart occupying the office of the president," he said.

Narayanan recalled that when he was approached by the Left parties with the suggestion for a second term in the office, he had asked them from where he would get the required support to win.











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