By Hafeez Naumani
The son of a great father should not be as small as to look like an adopted son. Chaudhary Charan Singh was a great leader of his time. If he was in the cabinet of Manmohan Singh, after the declaration, on 6th May, of his own defeat and the defeat of his party, if not on 17th, by 20th May he would have vacated his official residence and would have returned his official car.
Chaudhary Ajit Singh may not remember this as at that time he was in the US. I remember this because in those days I was one of those who were very close to him [Charan Singh]. Several weeks earlier the Party had announced a programme of public meetings in Shahjahanpur, Bareilly and Bijnor. Suddenly differences arose between him and C.B. Gupta. Gupta ji withdrew his support and Chaudhry Saheb sent his resignation to the Governor.
Since the programme had already been announced, as per schedule Chaudhary Saheb left to address these meetings. After his speech in Shahjahanpur he left for Bareilly. During the Shahjahanpur speech his driver was having tea in a teashop where he heard on the radio that the Governor had accepted Chaudhry Saheb’s resignation.
After finishing the speech Chaudhry Saheb came back and took his seat in the car. They had barely covered some distance when the driver, respectfully, informed him that the news of the acceptance of his resignation had been broadcasted on the radio. Hearing this Chaudhry Saheb asked the driver to stop the car aside. Then he asked him take all his luggage out. Everyone at the scene requested him to let the driver take him to Bareilly and return from there. ‘How can I use an official vehicle after my resignation has been accepted?’ He asked.
Chaudhry Saheb became a Parliamentary Secretary and then a minister when the first government in independent India was formed.
It was in 1971 when Ajit Babu appeared from the lady’s section [of the house] with some luggage with him and said to Chaudhry Saheb, ‘I have to go to the station and there is no car here.’
‘Call Rahmat he will get you a rickshaw.’ Chaudhry Saheb responded. Even after serving as a minister he did not have a private car.
No doubt Ajit Singh is his son but he has not had the privilege to see his father closely and learn from his principles and political life because in those days he was a student and later went to the US for further studies. After this he took up a job there and also took his wife with him. Had he lived with Chaudhry saheb he would have learnt about the qualities that made him so great that notwithstanding the fact that Shri C.B. Gupta and Shiri Kamplapati Tripathi had been in power for much longer periods than him yet both looked smaller than him.
As far as I remember Chaudhry Saheb lived in his residence at Mal Avenue in Lucknow for more than 20 years. He left it only after becoming Prime Minister; but no one has ever suggested that this should be turned into a Charan Singh Memorial because Chaudhry Saheb had spent several tenures here, lived here as a MLA, minister, chief minister and opposition leader and reached to the Prime Ministerial post from here. Only to continue his occupation on a house to live in Delhi without paying any rent today his undeserving and party-defector-son has been staging a drama and is demanding that this residence be turned into a Charan Singh Memorial and for this he has taken to streets.
A basic and horrible blunder has been committed by the Congress: after the death of Pundit Nehru Teen Murti Bhavan was converted into Nehru Memorial. If, after him, it was resided in by Shashtri ji, Indiraji and Rajive Gandhi or Narasimha Rao, then the status of Prime Minister’s House would have remained intact like [ the status of Chief Minister House] at Kalidas Marg. The result of this serious blunder is that [so far] 40 houses are believed to have been converted into ‘memorials’ and no one knows what it will lead to in future. It is the impact of this blunder that on the pavements in extremely busy markets first a bhagwan appears. Then a baba [priest] appoints himself as the caretaker followed by the chanting of bhagajs [religious songs] and offerings. Then more bhagwans make appearances. The big priests are joined in by assistants and whole of the pavement becomes a commercial venture. No one can dare remove them from there because these are the affairs of bhagwans not of humans.
The evacuation order by Modi to Ajit Singh is being seen as akin to the insult of a ‘great Jat’. Ajit Singh has lived in this residence for more than 10 years during which the thought of converting it into a memorial, like Miera Kumar has done, never crossed his head.
Chaudhry Saheb was above these things. Perhaps he was the only leader who embraced honest people and trusted them almost blindly. My relations with him lasted because I never approached him for unfair favour to anyone. Whenever I asked him to do something he did it cheerfully.
Ajit Singh has no interest in a Memorial. What he is interested in is a residence [for himself]. For this he has stooped so low that now he is threatening to cut water supply to Delhi. One wished that he knew and recognised the stature of his father. Had he learnt something from him he would not have faced such a humiliation. Even now the best for him to do is not to drag the issue any further. Instead of demanding a memorial for his father he should try to follow his footsteps. Such was the stature of his father that a Jat, no matter which part of the country he came from, regarded him as his leader. But Ajit’s Singh position is such that even in his own village not many people support him. Those who are with him are those who have personal and selfish reasons and have been misguiding him.