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On My Radar: ‘Our Missiles Are Not For Keeping Them In Stables Or Museums’

NewsOn My Radar: ‘Our Missiles Are Not For Keeping Them In Stables Or Museums’

‘Our Missiles Are Not For Keeping Them In Stables Or Museums’
This writer met founder of Samajwadi Party and Uttar Pradesh’s stalwart politician, Mulayam Singh Yadav, who died last Monday at the age of 82, several times. A wrestler-turned-teacher-turned politician, he was an interesting personality and a simple man. My last interaction with Netaji, as he was popularly known, was when he was the Defence Minister in PM H.D. Deve Gowda’s regime. As Defence Correspondent in the Hindustan Times, I received a telephone call from Mulayam’s OSD, Kamlesh Dikshit, who requested me to accompany Raksha Mantri’s Assam and Bihar tour next day. Dikshit made an unusual request: “Please advice Mulayam Singhji to speak that would hit headlines.” I said, “Netaji is a seasoned politician and Defence Ministry would prepare his speech; so why me?” He replied, “Because you think out-of-the-box.” In Guwahati, our three-day last stopover was in Danapur cantonment, established in 1765, near Patna. The next morning was the event where Defence Minister was to address jawans at a big rally. It was raining heavily since midnight. The phone in my Mess room rang at 6.30 am. It was Mulayam Singh. “Dikshit must have asked you to give me some good ideas for my today’s speech. But I wonder whether the function would take place because of the rains.” I requested him to call me back in 10 minutes. He called again. As a nationalist, an idea had already taken shape in my mind; I used this opportunity to get something strategically important spoken by the Defence Minister, something that fauzis urgently wanted and I knew their pain.

‘This Missile Factory Is No. 1 Target Of CIA’
Some years earlier, I was part of the first Press party to visit Hyderabad-based DRDO’s factory, producing India’s first state-of-the-art Prithvi, Akash and Nag missiles under the leadership of then Scientific Advisor to the Raksha Mantri, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam; interestingly, his name was suggested by Mulayam Singh for the President’s post and it was accepted by all political parties. Kalam himself took the media party round the missile factory. When the lock of a huge hall was opened, Kalam immediately ordered it to be closed, saying that it was “just a wooden model.” But we had seen a big real futuristic missile inside. Later, at dinner, while talking to this writer and other journalists, Kalam said: “This missile factory is number one target of the CIA!” He requested us not to use this in our reports.

Mulayam’s Speech At Danapur Cantonment
Over the telephone, I asked Mulayam Singh to note down what he should say after delivering his official speech: Netaji, after reading the Ministry’s prepared speech, put down the papers with force on the table near the mike to make a big sound, and, after a pause, told about 1,000 jawans along with top military brass: “Dear Fauzi Bhaion, there is a big nation across seven seas which believes that it is the ‘Super Cop’ of this planet. Our DRDO scientists have developed deadly missiles–Prithvi, Nag and Akash–for our country’s self-defence. But this super power is pressurising us not to deploy these missiles on our borders and shores against its ‘friend’ which actually is our enemy across the fence. Interestingly, the enemy nation is also asking us not to direct these missiles against it.” As I had suggested, Mulayam paused, then raising his voice said, “Jawano, we have developed these missiles for India’s self-defence and for neutralising the enemy’s designs.” Then, Mulayam thundered, “I must assure our defence forces that we have not developed these missiles for keeping them in stables or museums…today’s war is fought only for a week or so. We can’t afford to store these missiles in our factories far away from our borders.” He repeated the crucial line roaring that “our missiles are not for stables and museums…we will deploy them at our borders.” The jawans and officers stood up and clapped for long. At tea later, Mulayam caught hold of me and asked, “Was it all right? What would happen now?” I told him that soon PM Gowda would be calling you to endorse your speech and it would be Page 1 lead story in tomorrow’s papers,” He looked pleased. As expected, the PM congratulated Mulayam for his bold announcement. The army chief declared, “We will deploy Prithvi missiles on our borders soon as directed by our Raksha Mantri.” Later, I learnt that Kalam telephoned Mulayam to thank him. Islamabad was furious and asked its mentor America to supply it “matching missiles”. Uncle Sam was angry. When our IAF plane landed at Delhi airport’s technical area, the VVIP Defence Minister stepped down first. Mulayam Singh was waiting for me. Holding me by the shoulder, he took me a little away and said, “Thank you. We must meet regularly.” I told him, “Mulayamji, I just asked you to say what Fauzis wanted. You have done a great service to the nation…as far as our meetings are concerned, you won’t remember me after some days as you would get busy in routine political works and the Ministry and three services would keep you busy.” Netaji looked amused by my observation. That was my last meeting with great Netaji.

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