Sangh and the other Narendra

Dum Kitna hai Daman mein tere

Yesterday (February 4, 2015) newspapers carried a news item: An important BJP leader Narendra Tandon from Krishna Nagar, the assembly constituency in East Delhi, from where BJP CM aspirant Kiran Bedi is contesting her debut election, first resigned citing Bedi’s inability to carry with her the party cadres. Soon as the news spread of Tandon resigning, his resignation was promptly accepted and announced by Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyaya in a hurriedly called press conference. But within no time, the top bosses of the party forced Tandon to retract his statement and sheepishly take back his resignation. Now you need not be a great wizard to guess who forced Tandon to retract his statement and what force must have been applied on the poor hapless fellow. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced only yesterday in an election meeting that his boys and girls in Delhi will behave well because he will be keeping a strict eye on them. Therefore it is anybody’s guess that the command to Tandon to fall in line came from BJP president Amit Shah or Modi or both.

Narendra Tandon has been a committed Sanghi from his student days and led the Sangh/BJP’s student wing the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in the Delhi University over two decades ago. Tandon reminds me of the then Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Arun Shourie’s front page editorial titled, “Dum kitna hai daman mein tere, dekh liya hai, dekhenge” he wrote in the paper on forcibly breaking the 1987 strike with Tandon and his ABVP army’s help, portraying the strike by the employees as the handiwork of Rajiv Gandhi.

Shourie borrowing from Ram Prasad Bismil’s celebrated poem against the British imperialism “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai, dekhna hai zor kitna baazooe qatil mein hai” coined this slogan and the Indian Express group staffers, (those not on strike) marched meekly behind the boisterous and aggressive band of ABVP boys led by this Narendra, walking hand in hand with Arun Shourie, the so-called icon of fearless journalism.

Once” Rome” was conquered, who bothered about poor Tandon. He was all but forgotten while one of his lieutenants, a buck toothed burly sardar R P Singh, also from ABVP came in more handy to protect Ram Nath Goenka’s empire from the ire of defeated, disappointed and disillusioned  Express workers, many of them sacked one by one. No one saw poor Tandon in the Express building again at least till I left in September, 1989. There was another strike in the Express the next year which again was broken with the help of ABVP. But since I had left the organization by then I can’t say whether Tandon was summoned again by Shourie or whether he made do with R P Singh. Singh then hung on to Arun Jaitley’s coat tails and is today the sitting MLA in Delhi. But that’s a story to be related some other time.

With Express strike coming to an end, Singh became the King. He was generously given a second hand Bajaj scooter and lived royally ( I better not disclose here his other nocturnal activities in the Express building right under the nose of Goenka, Shourie and S Gurumurthy triumvirate)  in a part of the Express building for I don’t know how many years, while Tandon was lost to obscurity these 27 years, spotted once in a rare while at 11, Ashoka Road or 14, Pandit Pant Marg the national and Delhi BJP offices, with barely anyone even nodding to recognize the man’s tremendous contribution in defeating the anti-Sanghi forces. Like a true Sevak of the Sangh he worked diligently never hankering after power or pelf.

Yesterday his name suddenly cropped up with the media reporting that he quit the party protesting against BJP CM candidate Kiran Bedi’s high handedness and then within no time took back the resignation, obviously under tremendous pressure to avoid the embarrassment to the BJP and PM Modi with whom Tandon shared his first name.

We in the Indian Express did not even know the name of Narendra Modi till then. On the other hand this Narendra became the biggest hero ostensibly fighting the repression of Rajiv Gandhi in 1987, with Shourie writing the front page edit commending the good work done by his Narendra. Today a pro-BJP newsperson of the same vintage asked “Tandon who? Ashok Tandon.” I said, “No Narendra Tandon.” “Oh I see! I can’t remember,” he remarked.

Let’s see if Narendra Tandon still has the will power to raise the slogan “Dum kitna hai daman mein tere, dekh liya hai, dekhenge” against the likes of Modi-Amit Shah duo and Kiran Bedi. Now is the time for this Narendra to test “Daman” and for us to see who can fight against such repression.

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