June 14, 2024

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Son’s pictures did not allow Jagjivan Ram to become PM

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The public, who were waiting to teach a lesson to Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi, got a chance in 1977. Emergency was lifted, elections were held and Congress came to power. With great expectations, the voters of India had handed over the reins of the Center to the Janata Party. But, as the years passed, conflicts started within the Janata Party.

How Babu jagjivan ram son suresh ram relation with Sushma impact his  Political Career | बेटे की उस तस्वीर ने जगजीवन को पीएम ना बनने दिया

When the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai started becoming weak, Babu Jagjivan Ram’s name was raised for the post of PM. Looking at his experience and political hold, it seemed almost certain that the ‘Babuji’ of politics would win this time. But then a sex scandal happened, which shook the politics of the Centre. Also, Jagjivan Ram’s hopes were shaken. That was the sex scandal of Suresh Ram, son of Jagjivan Ram, who was the Defense Minister in the Janata Party government.

Well-known political analyst and senior journalist Neerja Choudhary has written about how some photographs jeopardized the career of a prominent leader and showed the path of comeback to Congress, in her book ‘How Prime Ministers Decide’ Decide).

To understand the story of those photographs, we first have to understand the environment of that time. In June 1978, the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai removed Home Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh and Health Minister Rajnarayan from the cabinet. Rajnarayan was a staunch supporter of Chaudhary Saheb. After the sourness in relations with Morarji Desai, he had only one desire, to appoint Chaudhary Saheb to the post of PM. This desire forced him to forget his old bitterness and come closer to Congress.

Chaudhary Charan Singh When Usrahar Police Station Of Etawah Demanded  Rupees 35 Bribe From PM | Chaudhary Charan Singh: जब थाने में Prime  Minister से मांग ली रिश्वत, मिनटों में पूरा थाना

Rajnarayan and Sanjay Gandhi met in July 1978. Both met at the residence of Kapil Mohan of Mohan Meakin liquor manufacturing company. Rajnarayan decided that he would forget the old memories of jail, which he got because of Sanjay and Indira Gandhi. Later the meetings started increasing. Both of them would talk in closed rooms.

Congress and Rajnarayan were unanimous that Chaudhary Charan Singh should become PM in place of Morarji Desai. Besides, both of them also believed that for this, Jagjivan Ram would have to be marginalized first. But how? How to stop Jagjivan Ram who is rapidly emerging and becoming stronger within the Janata Party government?

Got that opportunity in August 1978. The date was 21st August. A Mercedes met with an accident in front of the gate of Mohan Meekin plant in Mohan Nagar outside Delhi. The car hit a person and he died on the spot. Inside were Jagjivan Ram’s son Suresh Ram and a young girl.

When Babu Jagjivan Ram dream of becoming PM shattered because of Maneka  Gandhi son nude photo created sensation - India Hindi News - जब मेनका की  वजह से चकनाचूर हो गया था

After the accident, both of them entered the factory to escape the crowd. When Anil Bali reached the spot on the information of the guard, he recognized Suresh Ram on sight. He took both of them home in a company vehicle.

But, the FIR lodged by Suresh Ram at Kashmiri Gate police station on the same day was completely different from the story he had earlier told to Anil Bali. Suresh told the police that on the night of August 20, a dozen people had kidnapped him. He was going in his Mercedes Benz and some people were following him in two taxis. They stopped Suresh’s car at a deserted place near Nigambodh Ghat and kidnapped him at gunpoint. Sushma Choudhary of Delhi College was also there.

According to Suresh, they took both of them to a school in Modinagar. There Suresh was asked to sign on plain papers. When he refused, he was beaten until he became unconscious. They took objectionable photographs of Suresh and Sushma.

Then Rajnarayan enters this story. Ompal Singh, close to him, told that they were keeping an eye on Suresh. Because according to him, Suresh was involved in wrongdoings. He had taken some objectionable photographs of Sushma, a girl from the Jat community. Ompal claimed that he and his people were after Suresh to get the same photographs. The photographs were sent to the boss as soon as they came into hand.

Neerja Chaudhary writes that on the same night Jagjivan Ram met Rajnarayan. The motive was obvious, to obtain objectionable pictures of the son. That meeting lasted for about 20 minutes in a closed room at Kapil Mohan’s residence. At last Jagjivan left with a very sad heart. As soon as he left, when Kapil reached Rajnarayan, he said with joy, ‘Today he came under control. They were ready to give me anything in exchange for the photographs – money, the chair of the Chief Minister of some state or something else. He was saying that I am going to become PM. If you want to make someone a minister at the Centre, then say so.

Obviously Rajnarayan did not want any of this. He gave about 15 pictures to Kapil Mohan and kept the rest with himself. The same night those photographs were delivered to Indira and Sanjay. Both of them had found the means to bring down the political career of Jagjivan Ram.

Suresh’s image in the corridors of power was not very good even earlier. He had many misdeeds, but this time the matter was more serious. Jagjivan Ram knew that the price of this could be the post of PM. To stop the news from spreading in the media, he sought help from his old friend and Janata Party MP Krishna Kant. By then the photographs had reached the newspaper offices.

Neerja writes that Jagjivan Ram placed his Gandhi cap at Krishnakant’s feet and said, ‘Now my honor is in your hands.’

Book review of Neerja Chowdhury's How Prime Ministers Decide | Prime  directives - India Today

Krishnakant tried his best to save that honour. His efforts also bore some fruits. Most of the mainstream media remained silent on this matter. However, this did not last long. Sanjay Gandhi’s wife Maneka Gandhi used to edit a magazine, Surya. That magazine published objectionable pictures of 46-year-old Suresh Ram and Sushma face to face on two pages. The headline of the article was, ‘The Real Story’.

Surya left no stone unturned in raising this issue. It even came into limelight that Sushma became a pawn of an international espionage gang and defense related intelligence was leaked to China.

When Jagjivan Ram was the Defense Minister, these headlines hurt his image tremendously. Sales of the magazine continued to climb, while Jagjivan’s reputation took a blow from which it would rarely recover.

(Edited excerpts from the book ‘How Prime Ministers Decide’ by political analyst and senior journalist Neerja Chaudhary)

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