Mani Shankar Aiyar slams Natwar Singh over Rajiv Gandhi, IPKF issue in book

Aug 02 2014, 22:18 IST
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SummaryCongress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar today slammed former union minister K Natwar Singh over claim in his book that former PM Rajiv Gandhi ...

Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar today slammed former union minister K Natwar Singh over claim in his book that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi decided to send the Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka without taking his cabinet colleagues into confidence.

Giving the allegory of a blind man touching different parts of an elephant's body and thinking that the elephant is just like that, Aiyar said "this is what has happened with Natwar".

He said Natwar was only a Minister of State (MoS) at that time suggesting that he may not be aware of lot things happening in the government's decision-making at the top at that time.

Insisting there is a difference between a decision and a deployment, Aiyar said in an interview to Karan Thapar on Headlines Today's "Nothing But The Truth" that the decision to send Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was taken by Gandhi after there was a call from the then Sri Lankan President J R Jayewardene who was apprehensive that a coup can happen against him on that particular evening itself.

suggested that in the time between the decision to send the forces and the real time of sending the forces, consultations had taken place.

Aiyar, however, agreed with Natwar's remarks that Operation Brasstacks, the extensive military exercises, were carried out close to Pakistan border by the Indian Army in 1986 and 1987 without the knowledge of Gandhi.

Aiyar accused the then Minister of State for Defence Arun Singh and Chief of Army Staff Gen Krishnaswamy Sundarji of "betrayal" on the issue.

A Gandhi family loyalist, Aiyar, however, did not find any fault with Rajiv Gandhi over this saying that the then Prime Minister, who was also that time holding the portfolio of Defence Ministry, was aware of Operation Brassstacks being done as an internal defence mechanism but became "a victim of betryal" later the way in which it was carried out provoking "totally unnecessary tension".

Dubbing Arun Singh and Gen Krishnaswamy Sundarji as "irresponsible persons", Aiyar said they did this when Rajiv had gone to spend some time in Lakshadweep.

Claiming Rajiv Gandhi immediately took steps to defuse tension with Pakistan when he realized what was going on, Aiyar said that on his advice the then Prime Minister called then Pakistani President General Zia Ul Haque for lunch in Delhi and the problem created by Operaton Brasstacks was quickly sorted out.

Aiyar recounted how Rajiv Gandhi had said to him that

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