When Vajpayee was jailed in Bengaluru

BJP patriarchs Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani share a light moment. (DH Archives)

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was getting ready for his breakfast at the Bengaluru MLA hostel at around 7.30 am when his close friend and party leader L K Advani rushed to his room to tell him the grim story.

The previous night, on June 25, 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had imposed Emergency in the country and Opposition leaders, including Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai, were being arrested.

Both the leaders had reached the city as part of a Joint Parliamentary Committee on legislations against defections, a day before the committee meeting on June 26.

Advani remembered the setting in his autobiography My Country, My Life: “June is pretty much the hottest month in Delhi. Therefore, I was quite pleased when the Joint Parliamentary Committee dealing with a proposed law against defection scheduled its meeting on 26-27 June in the garden city of Bangalore, known for its pleasant weather”.

It was Advani who told Vajpayee about the telephone call he received from the Jan Sangh office about the arrests of senior Opposition leaders and the chances of them being put behind the bars soon.

The duo had a discussion about future strategy — whether to go underground or allow police to arrest them. They also quickly prepared a joint press statement condemning the arrests of leaders.

They decided that they should go to jail. Composed, both went to the dining hall to have breakfast later, and soon after, they were informed that the police were waiting outside to arrest them.

The leaders were in no hurry: they completed their breakfast and let the police arrest them a little later. They were allowed to pack their bags and speak to some journalists before being taken in a van.

The leaders were arrested along with MP Shyam Nandan Mishra and socialist icon Madhu Dandavate, who was also in Bengaluru then.

Vajpayee and Advani were lodged together. A passionate cook, one of Vajpayee’s biographers recall, Vajpayee had taken charge of cooking for the four leaders.

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When Vajpayee was jailed in Bengaluru

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