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Arjun wanted Sonia as PM after Indira`s killing?

Late Congress leader Arjun Singh wanted Sonia Gandhi to be made the prime minister after Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984.

New Delhi: The late Congress leader Arjun Singh wanted Sonia Gandhi to be made the prime minister after Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar says in a new book.

Nayar makes the revelation in his autobiography, "Beyond the Lines" (Roli Books).

According to him, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) held a hurried meeting to more or less endorse Rajiv Gandhi`s candidature to succeed his assassinated mother.

But there were two conscientious dissenters: Pranab Mukherjee and Arjun Singh, Nayar writes in his memoir.

"One, Pranab Mukherjee said the senior-most person should be the officiating prime minister till Rajiv Gandhi was formally elected by the Congress Parliamentary Party.

"Arjun Singh was on a different wicket. He insisted on having Sonia Gandhi as prime minister.
"Rajiv Gandhi understandably did not include Mukherjee in the government he constituted. Soon he (Rajiv) resigned from prime ministership to hold early general election," Nayar writes.

Nayar, the former resident editor of The Statesman and managing editor of UNI, also recalls the events around `Operation Bluestar` in detail.

He says that militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale`s aggressive posture suited the disgruntled Sikhs.

"He believed himself to be above the law of the land ... who had been chosen by god for a mission. His ambition was to wield so much power that all the police and troops of India would not dare challenge him. That was his tragedy," Nayar says.

Nayar says that it the was late Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of Indira Gandhi, who suggested that some `sant` should be put up to challenge the Akali Dal government.

Congress leaders Zail Singh, a former chief minister who later became president, and Darbara Singh, who later became chief minister, selected two men for evaluation by Sanjay Gandhi.

"As Sanjay`s friend Kamal Nath recalled, `the first one we interviewed did not look a courageous type.
"Bhindranwale, strong in tone and tenor, seemed to fit the bill. We would give him money off and on but we never thought he would turn into a terrorist`", Nayar writes.

"Zail Singh too maintained contact with Bhindranwale, although he denied this after he became president," he said.


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