Emergency 'propagandist' who banned Kishore Kumar songs

ShuklaFORMER union minister V C Shukla who suffered bullet injuries in the Naxal attack died today. (Reuters)

FORMER union minister V C Shukla, who suffered bullet injuries in the Naxal attack on the Congress rally in Chhattisgarh over a fortnight ago, died on Tuesday after developing multi-organ failure. He was 84 years old. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.

A Congressman by origin who changed parties, Shukla had a long and chequered political career, but he will remain best known for his iron-fist handling of the media during the Emergency.

He was tagged as the Indira Gandhi government's "propagandist" for his role as information and broadcasting minister during Emergency. His ministry came under fire for its media censor policy. The Justice Shah Commission of Inquiry, set up to look into Emergency excesses, had observed that, "During Emergency, some of these dramatis personae such as Bansi Lal, V C Shukla, Sanjay Gandhi exercised powers like medieval despots."

During the period, Shukla banned songs of Kishore Kumar from All India Radio and Doordarshan because the singer once refused to perform at an Indian National Congress rally in Mumbai.

Elected to the Lok Sabha nine times, the first time as early as in 1957 from Mahasamund in undivided Madhya Pradesh, Shukla held other key portfolios in the union government including communications, parliamentary affairs, water resources and external affairs.

The son of illustrious Congressman and freedom fighter Pandit Ravishankar Shukla, Shukla was the first chief minister of the re-organised Madhya Pradesh. His brother, Shyama Charan Shukla, was another veteran Congressman who also served as chief minister of the state.

In the mid-'80s, he joined the revolt against Rajiv Gandhi and was one of the founders of Jan Morcha headed by V P Singh. He became a minister in the National Front government of 1989-90 under V P Singh, but later switched allegiance to join the Chandrasekhar government and became external affairs minister.

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