'George was face of anti-Nehru, anti-Cong politics'

Recalling how socialist parties and leaders including George had vehemently opposed Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, Jaitley said, "in the post- Lohia era, with the emergence of the BJP as the principal pole of Indian politics, “many Lohiaites shed their inhibition and started doing political business with the Congress.” DH File Photo.

At a time when socialist parties from Janata Parivar are tilted towards Congress for a joint fight against BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday flagged the “anti Congressism” of the “colossal” socialist leader George Fernandes, saying he represented the anti-Nehru, anti-Congress face of Indian politics.

Recalling how socialist parties and leaders including George had vehemently opposed Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, Jaitley said, "in the post- Lohia era, with the emergence of the BJP as the principal pole of Indian politics, “many Lohiaites shed their inhibition and started doing political business with the Congress.”

The Union Minister further said, “The Left was not far behind. They called it re-polarisation. One honorable exception was George Fernandes. He was a born Lohiaite and he died as one. His anti-Congress moorings were never compromised.”

The remarks by Jaitley, who is abroad for a medical check-up, came a day after Fernandes breathed his last.

It has come at a time when Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party, has, though not tied with Congress for Lok Sabha polls, has clearly indicated that it will do business with Congress rather than BJP while Lalu Prasad’s RJD in Bihar has announced an alliance with Congress to take on BJP.

In Karnataka, H D Devegowda-led Janta Dal-Secular is in power in coalition with Congress and socialist leaders like Sharad Yadav are strongly backing the Congress.

Taking a peek in the past, Jaitley recalled how after the 1962 general elections and the China war debacle, veteran socialist Ram Manohar Lohia gave to this country the famous slogan “Congress hatao desh bachao”, which led to an anti-Congress alliance. Lohia died in 1967.

“George Fernandes was the last of the veteran Lohiaites. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, George Saheb’s mentor represented the anti-Nehru, anti-Congress face of Indian politics,” the Union Minister said.

Jaitley also recalled that how Fernandes opposed Bofors and was “one of the leading campaigners against corruption in the Rajiv Gandhi era.”

He also recalled how he had to twice as a Defence Minister face false allegations of corruption were levelled against him—Tehelka and the Coffingate, latching on to both of which Congress had tried to paint him corrupt.

He also recalled how Fernandes had veteran Congress leader S K Patil in 1967 South-Bombay elections and how he later became an active participant in JP movement since 1974 post-Indira Gandhi sweeping to power in 1971.

Repeatedly invoking imagery of Emergency, Jaitley said that while some even supported Emergency, Fernandes believed in militant opposition to the Emergency and how he was arrested and prosecuted to opposing it.

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