, 18 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
#NanajiDeshmukh, who today was awarded the #BharatRatna, was a pivotal opposition figure in the Emergency years, and in all three episodes I've recently explored – the 'subversive' protests (1975), the 'anti-national' resistance abroad ('76) & the 'unholy alliance' ('77). Thread.
(2) In late '74, JP's 'sampoorna kranti' agitation was gaining momentum in Patna, led mainly by students. On Nov 4, a massive rally was met with a police lathi-charge. According to legend, Deshmukh protected JP from a blow – which nearly broke his arm.
(3) Emergency was declared in '75. Before #NanajiDeshmukh was arrested, in December, he issued an ‘eight-point programme for Indians abroad’, a manual for what would become the overseas anti-Emergency movement – the original "anti-national" lobby.
(4) In '77, after the Emergency ended, a #mahagathbandhan spanning the CPI(M) and the Sangh came together to avoid splitting the anti-Congress vote. Deshmukh won from Balrampur, a seat which had gone to Congress before & went right back to it in 1980.
(5) Interestingly, #PranabMukherjee - who was also awarded a #BharatRatna today - was on the other side of these events. Very seriously so...
(6) #PranabMukherjee was a young loyalist on Indira's cabinet, and played a direct role in putting opposition figures in jail. He was indicted by the Shah Commission, formed to investigate abuses of power during Emergency.
(7) But Emergency wasn't the last time the fates of our two #BharatRatnas would intersect.
(8) So, the Janata Alliance defeats Indira's Congress; Indira neatly trips up the Janata Alliance, wins the 1980 election – and then she is assassinated in 1984. By all accounts, a terrible and alarming time for the country.
(9) Just weeks later, India had to go back to the polls. And the callow new Congress president, Rajiv Gandhi, had the support of none other than ... #NanajiDeshmukh
(10) In her martyrdom, after her battle with the Akalis, it was Indira who seemed the saviour of Hindus to many in the RSS. #Deshmukh published on an essay titled ‘Moments of Soul Searching', in which he endorsed and blessed the son of the woman who had jailed him.
(11) At the same time, Rajiv had a falling-out with none other than... #PranabMukherjee, the versatile, life-long Gandhi family loyalist.
(12) Pranab Da had ambitions. Rajiv had his own, young crew. After sweeping the polls, he left PM out of his cabinet in 1984 – and bad blood spread until Rajiv expelled #PranabMukherjee, who went off to form his own party.
(13) And here we are decades later, watching the @RSSorg man who followed his own lights, defeated Indira & boosted her son – joining the @INCIndia man who, led by his ambition, served Indira & crossed her son – raised up together as Jewels of India. India! You are never dull
(14) Some bibliography :)

#NanajiDeshmukh's letter is *quite* substantial. Many see it as evidence of the @RSSorg complicity in the Sikh killings. I got my reference from Rasheed Kidwai's book 'Ballot', but some excerpts are here:
(15) Not the most reliable source, but I believe these are the passages from the start & end of #NanajiDeshmukh's letter: praising Indira Gandhi and endorsing Rajiv in the 1984 election.
(16) I learnt about Deshmukh's ‘eight-point programme’ from this fascinating paper: ‘Smugglers of Truth’: The Indian diaspora, Hindu nationalism, and the Emergency (1975–77)', @EdAnderson101 & Patrick Clibbens, Modern Asian Studies
(17) More news of the young firebrands of the #Emergency. As we remember #GeorgeFernandes, let's start by reviving his early motto: जब तक भूखा इंसान रहेगा, धरती पर तूफान रहेगा
(18) In a single life, you can be charged with waging war on India – and be the Union Minister of Defence 25 years later. #GeorgeFernandes #TukdeTukdeGang
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