On June 23, 1980, a young man entered the local office of an opposition party, where the local MLA was meeting with some party workers. With a jubilant look on his face, the young man announced that Sanjay Gandhi, son of then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had died that morning when an aircraft flown by him crashed near Safdarjung Airport in New Delhi. Hearing this, some of the party workers started cheering.
The MLA immediately said in a raised voice, “Stop this! How can you people even think of cheering about somebody’s death? You should be ashamed of yourselves!”
After a few seconds of pin-drop silence, one party worker asked, “Sir, we all know about the atrocities that Sanjay Gandhi committed during the Emergency, which had been declared by his mother Indira Gandhi to protect her political interests. What is wrong in celebrating the death of such a person?”
The MLA, who had spent 18 months in jail in 1975-77 as a political prisoner during the Emergency, replied, “A young man has lost his life. An infant has lost his father. A young woman has lost her husband. An elderly mother has lost her son. This is a sad moment for everybody. As members of our party, we will continue to oppose Indira Gandhi politically. But, as human beings we must sympathise with her and her family.”
I remembered this incident when I read about Narendra Modi’s political opponents and others making all kinds of negative statements about his recent declaration about his marital status.
Narendra Modi’s political opponents and critics should continue to oppose him on political grounds. But it is not correct on their part to use his personal life as a stick to beat him with.
In my opinion, Narendra Modi is not to be blamed in this matter. His marriage was fixed and conducted by his parents when he was 17 years old. Hence, he has been the victim of the social ill called child marriage. We always sympathise with the victim of any social ill. So, why should we criticize this victim of a social ill?