Bihar Governor Satya Pal Mallik today said late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was "a good and honest person" who got into trouble because of wrong people around him -- a remark that prompted the Congress to thank the former BJP leader for not seeing everything through the "prism of the RSS".
These comments from Mallik, a former MP who has also served as BJP's national vice president, are in sharp contrast to those of several leaders from the saffron party who often attack Rajiv Gandhi, who died in 1991, with respect to the Bofors scandal in their tirade against the Congress party.
Speaking in Patna at a function, the Governor said that wrong people surrounding you in public life often bring you down.
In an apparent reference to the Bofors scandal, Mallik said Rajiv Gandhi was a good and honest person, but was surrounded by some wrong people and got into trouble while trying to save them.
The Governor did not mention who were those people surrounding Rajiv Gandhi, father of the the current Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The state Congress leaders promptly thanked Mallik for not viewing everybody through the "prism of the RSS".
State Congress Working President Kaukab Qadri said that the Governor's remarks stemmed from the fact that despite his long association with the BJP, he is basically a samajwadi (socialist) and was not in the habit of viewing everybody through the prism of the RSS.
"Rajiv Gandhi's probity is beyond doubt. He had expressed concern over only 15 paisa of every rupee spent by the government, reaching the people, when he was himself in power. It was a manifestation of his clear conscience. But, sadly, he has been a victim of smear campaign, especially by the BJP-RSS combine," Qadri told PTI.
By acknowledging this truth in public, the governor has followed the Indian tradition of respecting one's adversaries, the Congress leader said.
"We believe in the same and that is the reason why no Congressman has ever spoken ill of (BJP leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee). The tradition is, sadly, being demolished by the Narendra Modi-led BJP," he said. -- PTI