When it comes to the history of contemporary India, Morarji Desai’s interviews are considered as rare records.
Some believe the fourth prime minister of the country deserves respect as he was a man of principles, erudition, and integrity. There are others who blame him for allowing Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons and also for weakening the RAW. He received the “Nishan-e-Pakistan” award from India’s notorious neighbor.
Anyway, getting back to the main topic, the former prime minister had interacted with British journalist Elaine Grand while in the UK for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1977. Fortunately, after several decades, the channel has recently released some parts of the interview. He shared his views on multiple issues during this interaction.
On being asked about the overall number of years that he was forced to spend in jail during the British rule as well as Indira Gandhi’s emergency, Desai said time spent in prison was like a holiday for him.
“I was forced to spend seven years in jail during the British rule and then again 19 months during Indira Gandhi’s emergency period. But, this time was like a holiday for me. It helped me to understand the human nature in a better way. But, during Indira Gandhi’s rule, I was kept in solitary confinement. I was alone. This helped me to develop my physical, mental and spiritual side,” said the former prime minister.
Desai shared his opinion that time spent behind bars helped him to cleanse all the feelings of enmity from within his heart. It enabled him to focus on his diet, rest, sleep pattern and reading habit as well.
India’s fourth prime minister never smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, or ate meat. He had incredible self-discipline and control.
During the same visit, Desai addressed Indians outside the Royal Albert Hall (London). Indians protested at the event, distributed pamphlets about atrocities committed by the Indira Gandhi Government. They urged Desai to prosecute Mrs. Gandhi for her evil deeds.
On being asked about his plans regarding the same, he said he cannot follow that line as it won’t be democratic. He also asserted the journalist that special judicial commissions had been appointed to investigate specific incidents. If offenses are proved against people, then they won’t be protected from prosecution. Desai assured everyone his government would make sure that such things do not happen again in the country.
“We can’t have a revengeful attitude. One must not keep any plans for retaliation in mind, especially, when we believe in Gandhian lines. The government cannot take revenge on anyone,” said the Gandhian who passed away in 1995.