With only three phases in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections remaining, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi has suddenly become a topic in the elections. It all began with prime minister Narendra Modi saying yesterday that Rajiv Gandhi died as Bhrashtachar number one, referring to Rahul Gandhi constantly labelling the PM as a chor.
While the opposition parties and left-liberal media constantly accuses the current Modi government to be a fascist regime without freedom of speech, the fact is that the PM and the government is constantly being attacked, labelled a thief by the very same people without any fear of retaliatory action from the government. Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and all Congress leaders keep saying chowkidar chor hai, where chowkidar means PM Modi. Rahul Gandhi had even attributed this comment to the Supreme Court.
This comes in sharp contrast to how the Congress party had reacted when Rajiv Gandhi was called a chor. In 1988, a journalism professor was arrested by police, assaulted by Congress workers, for a question asked in an examination that referred to an anti-Rajiv Gandhi slogan popular at that time. Pradeep Krishnatray was the head of journalism department at the Sagar University, and the entrance test for journalism degree of the university at that year included that question which asked, “Which station of All India Radio had broadcast the sentence – ‘Rajiv Gandhi Chor Hai’?”
On May 27, during a live programme of Patna Radio Station, a girl was asked to tell a joke, and she had said, Gali Gali Mein Shor Hai, Rajiv Gandhi Chor Hai. This was a slogan used by the opposition parties during the Rajiv Gandhi government after the Bofors scam was exposed.
The question in the entrance examination created a huge reaction, with a group of youth Congress workers storming into the journalism department of Sagar University, and abusing and beating Pradeep Krishnatray. They had also painted his face blacked and paraded him around the campus.
The University authorities had charge-sheeted Krishnatray for asking the question and started an inquiry. After that, the police had taken up the case. The professor was arrested by police for indecent behaviour and insult. Not content with assaulting the professor, the Congress workers had also demanded that Krishnatray should be sacked immediately, although the vice-chancellor had refused to do so without a probe. The teachers of the university had rallied behind Krishnatray, boycotting class protesting the hooliganism of Congress workers. This had forced the police to arrest the culprits who had assaulted the professor.
Pradeep Krishnatray didn’t say anything against Rajiv Gandhi, the department under him had merely asked a question relating to a-anti-Rajiv Gandhi slogan. While today government-run TV channels like Rajya Sabha channel openly run anti-government propaganda, at that time government-run All India Radio inadvertently transmitting an anti-government slogan in a live programme was a big issue. This was also an important piece of trivia for journalism students, that’s why it was asked in the entrance examination for the journalism course, but the Congress workers wanted the scalp of the head of the department just for this.
In fact, back in the day, “Rajiv Gandhi Chor Hai” was a very popular campaign run by the opposition.
— Chowkidar Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) May 5, 2019
One of the most used chant at that time was ‘Gali gali mein shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi chor hai’. In fact, if reports are to be believed, when V P Singh, who resigned as the Defence Minister to lead the Opposition onslaught on Rajiv Gandhi, would ask the crowd, “Bofors ka dalal kaun hai?” Crowd would yell back, Rajiv Gandhi.