Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s comment at a seminar that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots could have been avoided had the then Home Minister P V Narasimha Rao heeded I K Gujral’s advice to call in the army at the earliest to contain the violence after Indira Gandhi was assassinated was evidently designed to absolve the Nehru-Gandhi family of blame in a roundabout way. Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded his mother Indira made the famous statement that the earth shakes when a big tree falls, which, many feel triggered the anti-Sikh riots. Dr Singh has from time to time belittled his position by his subservience to the Nehru-Gandhi family. That he has done so at the cost of a person who brought him into politics and who was his leader when Manmohan Singh ushered in the much-needed liberalisation of the economy does not paint a healthy picture of the man who, under Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s stewardship of the Congress party was prime minister for two successive terms.Whether Dr Singh made the charge against Rao on somebody’s direction with an eye on future elections in Punjab is difficult to say but to make a serious charge against a leader after he is no more is immoral and in poor taste. Gujral’s ‘advice’ if at all rendered could not be treated as gospel. Rao was perfectly entitled to his own judgement and whether the army should have been called in earlier is a matter of conjecture.
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