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From praise for ‘friend’ Bhindranwale, demanding ban on RSS to his relationship with the Gandhis: Here is a brief profile of Subramanian Swamy

Among those who were removed from the party’s National Executive, Swamy’s ouster holds particular significance, given that the Rajya Sabha leader who was once a resolute supporter of the party had turned into a staunch critic, continuously on the prowl to attack the party and the Centre on everything under the sun.

Ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in various states that will undoubtedly set the tone for the all-important general elections in 2024, the BJP on Thursday rejigged its National Executive. Varun Gandhi, Subramanian Swamy, Maneka Gandhi were among the key leaders who were dropped from the council.

Among those who were removed from the party’s National Executive, Swamy’s ouster holds particular significance, given that the Rajya Sabha leader who was once a resolute supporter of the party had turned into a staunch critic, continuously on the prowl to attack the party and the Centre on everything under the sun.

Swamy turns his ire against the Modi government after his vaulting ambition of becoming a cabinet minister remaines unfulfilled

For months now, Swamy has been increasingly critical of the BJP government at the centre. It was widely rumoured that Swamy was coveting the post of Finance Minister ever since the BJP formed its government at the Centre in 2014. However, he was persistently denied the post, following which he started voicing his criticism against the economic and sundry other policies implemented by the central government.

Whenever there were rumours about a possible cabinet reshuffle, Swamy had his Twitter and other social media timelines replete with tweets and retweets that seemed to ridicule the central government for their choice of ministers who were most likely to get a post in the cabinet. In June 2021, as speculations of cabinet rejig started doing the rounds, Swamy was once again at the task of pressurising the party into anointing him as a Cabinet minister.

Swamy took to Facebook to say that he has been a Cabinet Minister twice in his life and both times, he did not ask to be made one. He then went on to say that Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, should display “gratitude” for all that Swamy has done for him between 2005 and 2014 and make him a Minister. He just casually reiterated that this should be done without him asking the PM for it, while publicly whining about it.

Source: Facebook

Earlier in February, Sway took a swipe at the Centre on the issue of rising fuel prices. Invoking the Ramayana, he said that petrol cost Rs. 92 in “Ram’s India”, Rs 53 in “Sita’s Nepal” and Rs 51 in “Ravan’s Lanka”. OpIndia had then written in detail how the disgruntled leader’s Tweet, which could only be described as a ‘WhatsApp forward’, was a far cry from reality.

As Hindutva politics regained momentum after the arrival of PM Modi on the national stage, Subramanian Swamy pivoted to rebrand himself as a Virat Hindu fighting for the interests of Hindus. When he realised that despite aligning with Hindutva he could not get an entry into the Modi government’s cabinet, he started pulling off antics to blackmail the centre and in the process degraded to become an eternal whiner, routinely cavilling over policy decisions taken by the centre and over their implementation.

It is no secret that Subramanian Swamy is thoroughly rattled by his exclusion from the government, as he was hoping to be a minister in the Modi government. In his frustration of not being appointed in the cabinet, Swamy is often seen on social media spreading misinformation and floating preposterous conspiracy theories. He had claimed that the siege of the Red Fort on Republic Day was a PMO plot. He also launched an anti-vaccine tirade in response to the Modi government’s Covid-19 vaccine drive.

It is worth noting that Swamy has always been fickle about his political ideology. He has, time and again, placed emphasis on his personal gains than loyalty to his organisation. For Swamy, bartering his political ideology is an acceptable course of action if that helps him in accomplishing his short-term political ambitions. Because of these characteristics, he is often described on social media platforms as a political chameleon, someone who engages in a type of social shape-shifting in order to blend in with those he thinks could help him in attaining his objectives.

This is why he inspires distrust and his stances keep oscillating. From an anti-corruption crusader to a Virat Hindu to a Whistleblower and whatnot, Swamy keeps adroitly remoulding his image that suits his hitherto political ideology. When he realises he is unable to achieve what he is desirous of, he grows disillusioned with his party and colleagues and turns his back on them to ally with the opposition. This is one of the reasons why no party has truly been able to trust Swamy to give him a position of power.

Swamy’s close ties with godman-cum-power broker Chandraswami linked to Saudi Arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi

In order to hedge his bets, Swamy hobnobbed with leaders across the political spectrum. Not just this, he is also known for fraternising with controversial characters such as godman-cum-power broker Chandraswami. An astrologer and Tantrik by profession, Chandraswami was regarded as close to prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and was probed for his alleged role in plotting and financing the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. The self-proclaimed godman faced a bevvy of criminal cases—ranging from FERA violations, to blackmail and cheating, to shady arms deals.

But for Swamy, Chandraswami was a “close friend”. Swamy, in an interview with the Hindu after Chandraswami’s demise in 2017, had hailed the controversial godman as a “database of politics” and a man who had “great intuition about people’s character”. Swamy had then said it was Chandraswami who had apprised him of who’s who in politics and was useful in his political life.

Furthermore, it was Subramanian Swamy as India’s Law Minister in 1990-91 who transferred NK Singh, CBI officer in charge of St Kitts forgery case. Chandraswami was prime accused of conspiring to harm PM VP Singh’s image by forging documents to show that he was the beneficiary of a USD 21 million secret bank account in the Caribbean island.

The whole controversy erupted in August 1989 with the Kuwait-based ‘Arab Times’ carrying a report about the alleged bank account in the name of Ajeya Singh. Rajiv Gandhi was replaced by VP Singh as the Prime Minister and CBI registered a case in May 1990. The CBI probe found that the allegations of the “non-existent” bank account were floated by some “interested persons” to tarnish the image of VP Singh.

Saudi Arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who was close to godman Chandraswami and was also linked to Rajiv Gandhi and Chandra Shekhar, was said to have some role in the case. Years later, as conclusive evidence could not be furnished in the court of law, Chandraswami was cleared from the case because there was no “direct evidence” to convict him.

“Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was my friend. He never asked for a separate Khalistan”: Subramanian Swamy

Subramanian Swamy was also in thick with Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Downplaying Bhindranwale’s role in Punjab insurgency, Swamy had said that he never demanded a separate “Khalistan” and it was “a conspiracy of external forces to disintegrate the nation.”

Offering an apologia for Bhindranwale, who led the Sikh terrorists hiding in the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar, Swamy had said, “Show me a recording of any speech in which he raised such a demand of creating a separate Khalistan seceded from India. As per my conversation with him, he did not demand Khalistan, but said he won’t reject it (Khalistan) if anybody gifts it to them.”

After filing numerous cases and dragging the Gandhis to the court, one would have assumed that Swamy is resolute on an anti-corruption stance. But that’s not the case, says social media user Alok Bhatt. He notes that Swamy’s crusades on corruption have been going on, for decades for they are not an end but means to an end. That is why, Bhatt says, his targets keep changing and crusades never reach their logical end.

An instructive article published in the 1980s threw light on how Swamy had mastered the art of using exposes to intimidate his political opponents but the article also mentioned how the attempts had often boomeranged and failed to yield any desired results.

Swamy had wanted RSS banned under TADA for felling the controversial Babri structure in Ayodhya, had asked the Rao govt to rebuild the place

Political expediency has been one of the strong suits of Subramanian Swamy. His support to a particular issue is contingent upon those who are in power and his relationship with them. Today, almost three decades after the controversial Babri structure was levelled in Ayodhya, Swamy cuts himself a figure of being a Virat Hindu who is uncompromising on his stance as far as the interests of Hindus are concerned. But back in 1992, Swamy had wanted the RSS and VHP to be banned under the Terrorists and Disruptive (Prevention) Act for their second “treachery” against the nation.

Source: Twitter

The first “treachery”, Swamy had said, was Nathuram Godse, who had assassinated Mohandas Gandhi. Swamy said the RSS and its front organisation have proved themselves to be “incorrigibly anti-national with no regard for national unity and harmony.”

Not only did Swamy wanted the Narsimha Rao government to ban the RSS and VHP under TADA, but he also wanted the government to declare that Babri controversial structure would be rebuilt and handed over to the Muslims, adding that the government should fob Hindus off with a nearby place where they could have their Ram Temple.

Swamy’s fickle relationship with the Gandhis

Swamy’s love-hate relationship with the Gandhis has been spotty. He was forced to go underground after Indira Gandhi’s imposed an Emergency in the country. Yet a few years later, when Mrs Gandhi asked him to speak to the Chinese on behalf of the government, he was more than willing, Samanth Subramanian mentioned in his 2012 profile of Swamy. This inconsistency characterised his relationship with other Gandhis as well.

Swamy had admitted that he was close to Rajiv Gandhi after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. He would often meet Rajiv Gandhi at 2 or 3 am in the morning and talk about everything. According to Swamy, Rajiv Gandhi would have made a “very, very good second-term prime minister” as he had matured a “great deal” as compared to his first term in the office.

In 1989, Swamy claimed that he was a free agent cobbling up opposition to replace Rajiv Gandhi’s government. But his actions betrayed that he was sabotaging the opposition unity and helping Rajiv Gandhi for his second term. Janata Dal leader VP Singh, whom Swamy praised as a “good man” in his interview in 1988, was ultimately elected the Prime Minister of India, with outside support from the Congress party.

But just a year later, in 1989, Swamy betrayed Singh, reviling him as an untruthful, conspiratorial, mafia collaborator. Swamy even flashed copies of a letter signed by the American detective Michael Hershman to allege that V.P. Singh had hired Hershman, two years ago, to investigate foreign bank accounts of opposition leaders. Swamy was then left red-faced when he travelled to the US and met Hershman who expressly denied sending the letter. Even worse, Hershman said VP Singh’s name had been in the original list of leaders under probe, but in Swamy’s list, that name was blacked out. To Swamy’s chagrin, it instantly proved that his list was trumped up, for VP Singh would not have ordered a probe against himself.

Besides Rajiv Gandhi, Swamy also shared a cordial relationship with his wife Sonia Gandhi, until of course, acrimony vitiated the relation. In 1999, he hosted a special tea party for J. Jayalalithaa with Sonia Gandhi as a special invitee at Delhi’s Ashok Hotel, which inevitably resulted in the former pulling out of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government after 13 months. Swamy had even claimed of Sonia promising to back a non-Congress, non-BJP led government with him as prime minister. Not only was Swamy credited for the fall of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, but he also took it upon himself the smear the image of Vajpayee and his colleagues as well.

Rajiv Gandhi and Subramanian Swamy(Source: DailyO)

However, like his other capricious relations in the past, Swamy turned against Sonia Gandhi. He floated a theory in 2001 that Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi’s marriage was a bond forged by Russia’s spy agency KGB.

In March 2001, Swamy called Minister of State for Personnel Vasundhara Raje to initiate a CBI probe into the allegations that Sonia was treating Tamil Tigers, the PMK and the “pro-LTTE and secessionist Dravida Kazhagam”, with kid gloves. The LTTE cadre also acted as “runners”, Swamy told India Today, to facilitate smuggling operations.

He also brought attention to a CBI inquiry from 1993 into a consignment originating from Chennai port that breached the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972. The CBI recorded that the artefacts were meant for one “Guide Zanderige” of Verona, Italy. Swamy alleged that this man was employed by the Mainos, the maternal family of Sonia Gandhi, and was procuring goods for “Etnica in Rivolta or Ganpati in Orbassano”, shops “owned by her (Sonia’s) family”.

Sonia Gandhi and Subramanian Swamy(Image Credits: The Hindu)

Swamy’s anathema for the Gandhi family, particularly with Sonia Gandhi, only grew with time. He started referring to Sonia Gandhi as Sonia Maino and “TDK”, an abbreviation for Tadaka, the demoness in the Ramayana, in his tweets and during public appearances. He pursued the corruption charges against the Gandhis in the National Herald Case. He also accused Sonia and her family members of giving out a contract to eliminate Rajiv Gandhi.

Ram Jethmalani describes Subramanian Swamy in his blog “The Diseased Insect”

In 1998, about 23 years ago, eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani saw through what Subramanian Swamy truly was and summarised his critical opinions about him in his personal blog. In his blog titled “The Diseased Insect”, Jethmalani accused him of perennially fostering the frustration of not becoming the Prime Minister of India.

“This country has suffered many a misfortune but none greater than the vice and persistence in our public life of a despicable character called Subramanian Swamy. His has been a life of character assassination, malicious mendacity and sordid blackmail of anyone who happens to cross his path. Nobody has been able to deflect him from his criminal course of conduct because few have the inclination to take on this vicious viper and expose him for what he really is,” Jethmalani wrote.

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OpIndia Staff
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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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