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Subramanian Swamy's underground life during the Emergency

Dr. Subramanian Swamy is the President of the Janata Party and was Union Minister for Commerce and Law between 1990 and 1991 in the Chandra Shekhar Cabinet.

"When I was at Harvard, JP had come in 1968, and hardly anybody recognised 'JP'. It was very sad, how in India people forget so quickly. The man was a great freedom fighter, gave up being Deputy Prime Minister for Jawarharlal Nehru and sacrificed his life for Sarvodaya. He made me spend six months in Sarvodaya and I told him that in India nothing works without politics. Even social work you need politics He was angry with me for suggesting this since it was a negation of his life."

In 1972, when "JP" was recovering from a heart attack, he called for Dr. Swamy and asked him to tell his people what he had told him a few years ago. Jaya Prakash Narayan's colleagues pounced on Dr. Swamy and called him immature and Americanised. JP supported Dr. Swamy. "The JP movement suddenly caught fire. JP was a hallowed name, forgotten but hallowed. Mrs. Gandhi became nervous, tried to malign him. In the end she lost the elections and that was how the emergency was declared."

Dr. Swamy, refusing to get arrested, went underground and lived that way for months. On the night of June 25, 1975 after having dinner with "JP", Dr. Swamy got an anonymous call from the police asking for him. Sensing that the arrest was impending, Dr. Swamy went underground. He refused to live in a dictatorship. It was on JP's insistence that Dr. Swamy went abroad.

"Those days security did not exist. I went to Madras, went straight to the airport, got a ticket for Colombo at the counter. Those days you could go to Colombo without a passport. Fortunately I had an American Express card and bought my ticket to London and that is how the whole 'Friends of India Society', which I founded, began."

"I used the Harvard platform and went to all the elite places in London -- The Royal Institute of International affairs, Chattam House, Institute of Strategic studies. The British elite was completely swayed. I was an instant hit."

Speaking about how he came into Parliament and made the one-minute speech on August 10, 1976, he said, "I bought a ticket on Pan American to Bangkok, which stopped in Delhi. I was a transit passenger and hence my name did not come in the passenger manifest. So the police had no idea I was coming. I got down, went to the transit lounge. There was only one policeman at three a.m., I showed him my Parliament pass and walked past. He even saluted me."

Narrating the dramatic events leading up to the one-minute speech in Parliament, Dr. Swamy said, " I checked into a hotel, then in a disguised voice called my wife. As a contingency I always keep a sardarji pagdi and a false beard with me. I asked my wife to come to the hotel for breakfast with these things and a tool-box. She came and gave me the things."

Dr. Swamy disguised as a television mechanic went to his house and walked past the policemen stationed outside his house. "I knocked on the door and asked if the television was out of order, my wife said yes, yes. I went in and stayed five full days in my house. Imagine, the police never questioned what this lady is doing with a television mechanic."

At the end of the fifth day, I sat in a car with my wife and drove to Parliament. I went in, signed the register and walked into the house. The Speaker was reading the last name on the obituary list. Everybody was shocked to see me, Bansi Lal, Om Mehta... They all looked at me and thought that perhaps I was there to throw a bomb or something. I said, "Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, you are on obituaries, Democracy has also died, kindly include that also in the list. They lost two minutes standing in silence while I walked out of there."

The escape thereafter, became even more difficult for Dr. Swamy. "It required nerves, that is all," he said. He reached Bombay, where the RSS offered him assistance and supported him. "There was such a man-hunt for me. Everyone connected with me was put to trouble."

This meant that he had to leave the country again. The only way of escape was by getting to Nepal. "As luck would have it, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was addressing an AICC meet in Guwahati and so all the police were there. I wore Nepali clothes and walked past the border and nobody stopped me. From there the King's people picked me up and took me Kathmandu and then the King sent me to Bangkok from where I caught a commercial flight to United States."


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