e mërkurë, 25 prill 2007

Inder Kumar Gujral

Name: Inder Kumar Gujral

Date of Birth: 4 December 1919

Place of Birth: Jhelum, Punjab


Born in the town of Jhelum in Western Punjab, now in Pakistan, he actively took part in India's freedom struggle, and was jailed in 1942 during 'Quit India Movement'.

In the tumultuous days of June 1975, he was minister of Information and Broadcasting. On June 12,1975, the Allahabad high court gave a verdict that Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi used unfair means in elections of 1971 and termed her election null and void. There were reports that her son, Sanjay Gandhi brought people from neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh in a number of trucks to Delhi and held massive demonstrations in support of the Prime Minister. It was also reported that Sanjay wanted Gujral to give coverage of the rallies on state run television and radio. However Gujral refused to obey Sanjay Gandhi, who did not hold any constitutional post. Many people believe that it was the reason why Gujral was replaced by Vidya Charan Shukla as minister of Information and Broadcasting.

Later, Gujral was appointed India's ambassador to Russia. By the time of Indira Gandhi's return to power in 1980,as the Indian envoy to Moscow, Gujral persuaded her to express opposition to the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. That was a break from India's earlier record of supporting Soviet military ventures in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and it led Mrs. Gandhi to privately inform Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev that the Kremlin had blundered in Afghanistan.

Gujral left the Congress Party in the mid-1980s and joined the Janata Dal. The Dal was a third-party with mainly socialist leanings and regional bases. In 1989 elections, Gujral was elected from Jallandhar parliamentary constituency of Punjab. He served as Minister of External Affairs in V.P.Singh cabinet. The issue he had to deal with as External Affairs Minister was Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent events that led to first gulf war of January 1991. As India's representative, he personally met with Iraq's Saddam Hussein. His hug with Hussein during the meeting remains a matter of controversy. In 1991 mid-term parliamentary elections, Gujral contested from Patna constituency in Bihar against Janata Dal(S) candidate and then Finance Minister Mr. Yashwant Sinha. However the election was countermanded following complaints of large scale irregularities.

In 1992,Gujral was elected to Rajya Sabha and remained a key Janata Dal leader.

After 1996 elections, when United Front government was formed at the center under the leadership of H.D.Deve Gowda, he was again named Minister of External Affairs of India. During his second tenure as Minister of External Affairs, he propounded his 'Gujral Doctrine' which called for better relations with neighbors. With Gujral at the helm of Ministry of External Affairs, India resolved long standing dispute over Ganga water sharing with Bangladesh.

Before becoming the Prime Minister of India in April 1997, he served the country as Union Minister or Minister of State holding different portfolios in the Ministries of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs, Information & Broadcasting, Works & Housing, Planning and Ministry of External Affairs.

In early November 1997, parts of interim report of Jain Commission inquiring into the conspiracy aspect of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were leaked to the press. Reportedly, the Jain Commission had indicted the political party, DMK (Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam) for tacitly supporting the LTTE, which was responsible for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. The DMK was part of the ruling coalition at the center and the Union Cabinet had ministers belonging to the DMK. The Congress party first demanded the tabling of the report on the floor of the parliament. The report was tabled on 19 November 1997. When it was confirmed that the Jain Commission had in fact held the DMK responsible for supporting the LTTE, the Congress party demanded that the ministers belonging to the DMK be dropped. There was exchange of letters between Congress President Sitaram Kesri and Prime Minister Gujral. However, Gujral refused to budge. In a public function in Calcutta on November 23,1997, he gave a hint of what was to follow saying 'mid-term elections are around the corner'.The Congress party finally withdrew support to his government on November 28,1997. Gujral resigned following the withdrawal of support by the congress party. As no alternative government could be formed, the only alternative was mid-term elections, as Gujral had foreseen.

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