SBP emulates SP – Debate

Our last post “Swarna Bharat Party Emulates Swatantra Party” published on September 6, 2016 has generated a debate and we reproduce below the gist of e-mails exchanged between Dr. Zareer Masani and Mr. Naozer Aga.

Dr. Zareer Masani says

  • My father, Minoo Masani’s intervention at the 1974 Swatantra Party Congress was not to oppose dissolution of the party but, on the contrary, to resist merger of the party into the opportunistic Bhartiya Kranti Dal.
  • My father did not support the failed and misguided attempts to continue and/or resurrect the Swatantra Party after the election debacle of 1971 and was sceptical about subsequent efforts to resurrect the party by Madhu Mehta, S. V. Raju and Sharad Joshi, while not coming in their way. He never joined any such party formations and devoted his time to non-party organizations aimed at promoting citizenship and liberal economic and political values.
  • The Swarna Bharat Party is mistaken in assuming some mantle of legitimacy by retrospectively claiming Minoo Masani’s endorsement, almost two decades after his passing away.
  • My father would have been less than enthusiastic about Swarna Bharat (Golden or Shining), not least for its chauvinistic name and ethos and would have preferred a name based on individual freedom like Indian Freedom Party.

 

Mr. Naozer Aga, National Mentor, SBP replies

  • No comment.  The point is irrelevant. The article on SBP does not mention this aspect at all.
  • Dr. Zareer Masani says that Minoo Masani was sceptical of Madhu Mehta, S. V. Raju and Sharad Joshi in their attempts at a resurrection and/or formation of new liberal parties, while not coming in their way.

Sceptical, or not, I do not know, but I can vouch for, first hand, with my personal interactions with Minoo Masani that he acted as a mentor to Madhubhai’s efforts in the Committee for creation of a national alternative – the RVNS (Rashtriya Vikalp Nirman Samiti) promoted by the Hindustani Andolan which was led by Madhubhai.  I was the Acting Convenor of the RVNS, as also the Hon. General Secretary of the Indian Liberal Group (ILG) working closely with Minoo Masani, President-ILG.

Minoo Masani was also present at the inaugural function of Sharad Joshi’s Swatantra Bharat Party held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai on May 28, 1994.

Dr. Zareer Masani writes that his father did not come “in the way” i.e. he did not disagree or disapprove, of resurrecting and/or forming any new liberal party. Furthermore, it is inconceivable that Raju would have kept the Maharashtra unit of the Swatantra Party alive without Minoo Masani’s approval, knowing the extremely cordial and close relationship they shared.

  • It is in the context of my being one of the surviving members of the Swatantra Party (Maharshtra) that the names of Minoo Masani and S. V. Raju are mentioned in the reference made to the Swatantra Party’s Maharshtra unit. The SBP is not assuming any mantle of legitimacy or endorsement (or intends to do so in future) by mentioning the names of these two gentlemen who are no more with us.  Incidentally, there are about eight surviving members of the Swatantra Party (Maharashtra) and not two, as inadvertently mentioned in the article.
  • It is very presumptuous of Dr. Masani to comment on what his father would have thought of SBP. The name harks back to the Golden Age of India, when India was a high flying Sone Ki Chidiya. How is that chauvinistic? Dr. Masani is entitled to his opinions on SBP, but must have the courage of his convictions not to attribute his own views to that of his long deceased, most respected and beloved father Minoo.

 

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One thought on “SBP emulates SP – Debate

  1. I regret that Freedom First did not print the full text of my statement and instead carried a long-winded and largely irrelevant reply from those who appear to be hijacking my late father’s political legacy for their own narrow ends. The full text of my statement was as follows:
    “While Mr Aga and others are welcome to emulate the excellent example of the Swatantra Party, they are historically inaccurate and untrue to my father Minoo Masani’s memory in trying to claim his support for failed and often misguided attempts to continue and/or resurrect the party after the election debacle of 1971.

    I spent many thousands of hours debating Indian and global politics with my father from the 1960s to the 1990s. I can confirm that he was convinced of the need to wind up the Swatantra Party after 1971, when it had been reduced to an unprincipled rump. His intervention at the 1974 party congress was not to oppose dissolution, but on the contrary to resist merger of the party into the opportunist Bhartiya Kranti Dal. S V Raju himself corrected his own inaccurate account of this (in his biography of my father) in a subsequent speech in 2009, published in “The Swatantra Party: Commemorating the 50th Year”..

    My father was sceptical about subsequent attempts to resurrect the party by Messrs Madhu Mehta, S V Raju and Sharad Joshi. While not coming in their way, he never joined any such party formations and devoted his time instead to non-party organisations aimed at promoting citizenship and liberal economic and political values. He believed that, until Indian public awareness had been considerably raised, there would be no future for a truly liberal party in this country.

    Mr Aga and his group are welcome to launch their own party and seek to emulate Swatantra, but they are wrong to try and assume some mantle of legitimacy by retrospectively claiming my father’s endorsement almost two decades after his passing. I think I knew his mind a little better than them.”

    Since writing the above, I have discovered that these so-called successors to Swatantra have set up a bogus profile on Facebook, @minoomasani, with a photo of my late father, seeking to give the impression that he is alive and blessing their self-appointed Swarna Bharat group, the very name of which he would have found repugnant. Their actions in hijacking and exploiting the reputation of a long deceased person speaks for itself, and I feel it is my duty, both as his son and as a historian, to set the record straight. I shall not be replying to any further posts from these unscrupulous people.

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