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Rubbing elbows with Congress stalwarts

Memories of Morarji Desai's visit to the city, his two-day stay at my residence keep coming back to my mind, says G. S. RAJU



POLITICAL TITAN G.S. Raju cherishes his association with former Prime Minister the late Morarjee Desai, to whom he had played host at his residence

As an active Congress worker since 1950, I had the privilege of hosting or interacting with several stalwarts, including the late Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Morarji Desai and P.V. Narasimha Rao, besides Presidents and senior leaders of the party.

As a centre of intense political activity in those days, Vijayawada attracted many leaders for some reason or the other and I, as an established Congressman in the city, had the advantage of playing host to some of them.

My association with Morarji Desai also grew in a similar fashion after his two-day stay at my residence in Brindavan Colony, which by then was throbbing with political activity.

Though I do not remember the month and year, Morarji Desai came to Vijayawada to attend the AICC session held at Guntur (it is November 1964 as per information available on internet). I went and received him at the airport and requested him to stay at my residence during the two-day session.

I offered him my Impala for his use, and he gladly accepted it, as he was not comfortable with the car provided to him by the reception committee.

Strong bond

That was the beginning of my association with him, which continued irrespective of whether he remained in the Congress or not. We struck a good rapport with each other, probably because both of us were frank and forthright in speaking our minds out. I shared this trait with another leader Kumaraswamy Raja, a former Governor of Orissa, with whom I had even stronger a bonding.

My proximity to Morarji was such that whenever I went to Delhi, I had easy access to him. He never allowed any one to make tea for him, as he liked to do it himself. I took the initiative of doing it for him and he never objected to it.

Once I visited Delhi when he was Prime Minister and called his private secretary to seek an appointment with him. I was asked to come at `quarter to two' (1.45 p.m.), which I mistook for `quarter past two' (2.15 p.m.).

Patience pays

When I reached the place at 2.15 p.m., he was in a meeting and I was told that I could not meet him. I convinced his private secretary to allow me to wait near the exit door through which he would come out. My patience paid dividend, as he noticed me while coming out and made a nod asking me to come near him.

I immediately presented to him a book written on Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, the architect of transcendental meditation, by well-known jurist V.R. Krishna Iyer. Though Morarji, for some reason, never had a good opinion of the yogi, he accepted the book after I told him that it was written very well.

Even after he demitted the office of Prime Minister, I used to call on him at his residence to find out about his health. He always reciprocated my concern for him with equal warmth.

(As told to K. Srimali)

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