Despite ideological differences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have deep admiration for socialist icon and former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. At a book release function at the Parliament auditorium, Modi said that “though Chandra Shekhar ji passed away 12 years ago, his commitment to the poor and downtrodden continues to inspire me”.
The Prime Minister said: “Chandra Shekhar’s clarity of thought, even on the complex issues was matchless.” In a conversation on Chandra Shekhar’s various interactions with him, PM Modi shared a few interesting incidents, probably for the first time in an open house.
Remembering an important date in contemporary political history (March 6, 1991), when Chandra Shekhar resigned as Prime Minister amid a political upheaval in New Delhi, Modi revealed to the packed audience that on the day when everyone was guessing the fall of the government in the Capital, it was a sheer coincidence that he was the first to receive the call of Chandra Shekhar, informing him about his decision.
On his first meeting with Chandra Shekhar, in 1977, Modi said he and senior BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat were at the airport when they saw Chandra Shekhar coming towards them (at the lounge). “As Chandra Shekhar ji was approaching near, Shekhwat ji suddenly whipped out some stuff (boxes) from his pockets (of his ‘kurta’) and tucked them into my pockets. At this abrupt act..I was taken aback… not realising why Shekhwati ji instantly shifted the stuff into my pockets.
“Meanwhile as Chandra Shekhar ji greeted us, he frisked Shekhwat ji’s pocket to find out the stuff. Actually, the stuff was pan masala and tobacco which Shekhawat ji was fond of chewing. On the other hand, Chandra Shekhar ji was against the use of pan masala. Concerned about his friend’s health, Chandra Shekhar ji always reminded Shekhwat ji not to chew pan masala and tobacco,” Modi said, adding, “I always regard and appreciate Chandra Shekhar ji’s affection for Shekhwat ji, despite ideological differences between them.
Indeed, the political thought process of him (Chandra Shekhar) was beyond any bias towards anyone.”