Indira made Jagjivan Ram scapegoat during Emergency, says biography

A biography of former union minister Jagjivan Ram has claimed that the late prime minister Indira Gandhi used the Dalit leader as a "bali ka bakra" (scapegoat) during Emergency in an attempt to remove any possible challenge to her leadership.

The biography in Hindi, Babu Jagjivan Ram: Ek Jivani, has been penned by writer Mangalmurti. It was released by Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal in the presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar here today. Meira Kumar, who is Jagjivan Ram's daughter, has also written a blurb for the book.

According to the biography, while Jagjivan Ram was used by the Congress and the government for his popularity and competence, he was never given any position of eminence because the "prime minister's chair was deemed to be the birthright of uchchavargiya (high-class) leaders only".

The author says that Indira did not trust Jagjivan Ram. "Even before the imposition of Emergency and more so after it, Jagjivan Ram remained under suspicion, and central intelligence agencies strictly monitored all those who met him," says the book, citing the writings of Indira's "confidential sources", apart from some other "reliable sources".

"It is clear from Indiraji's continuing distrust in him that... Jagjivan Babu's popularity, political diplomacy (kootnitigyata) and competence was always taken advantage of by the party and the government. But when the question of giving him a position of eminence came, he was always pushed behind probably because he hailed from the most neglected, deprived community while the prime minister's chair was deemed to be the birthright of uchchavargiya leaders only," it says.

"Along with Indiraji, Jagjivan Ram was the most senior and competent leader, who was the most eligible for the post of prime minister also... The biggest threat was from none other than Jagjivan Ram and therefore, he was considered the biggest scapegoat to move the resolution on Emergency," says the biography (page 188).

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