My first contact with Chandra-shekhar was in 1970 when he called for a copy of my then recently published monograph for the Jan Sangh titled ?Swadeshi Plan?. On March 19, 1970, Mrs Indira Gandhi rose to speak in Lok Sabha on the Budget but devoted a good part of her speech to denounce my prescriptions in that study because I had rubbished the Soviet economic model, and had suggested instead a market based self-reliant approach to generate a 10 per cent growth rate and build nuclear weapons. I had the previous year returned to India after resigning my faculty position at Harvard University to take up as Professor of Economics at IIT Delhi.
Mrs Gandhi'sattack was bewildering since I was then new and unfamiliar with politics. My association with Jan Sangh was just starting then and I had no previous political background. Taking a cue from Mrs. Gandhi, the entire intellectual establishment which was Left or Left-compliant, also began debunking my work ?as wild, untenable, and unsuited for India?.
Chandrashekhar then wrote an editorial in his magazine The Young Indian praising my study and asked what were my critics objecting to? Self-reliance, 10 per cent growth rate, or nuclear weapons? In 1974, I entered the Rajya Sabha from UP, and Chandrashekhar also was re-elected at the same time. We formally met for the first time at the Lucknow'sfamous Hazratganj Coffee House. From then on, we grew closer through a series of events, some friendly, some leading to temporary strife leading to reconciliation and then deeper understanding of each other. By 1987, Chandrashekhar and I had become very good friends and remained very close friends till his death. I was Janata Party General Secretary when he was president, and his senior minister holding two portfolios when he was Prime Minister for seven months.
Chandrashekhar was an outstanding personality because of several qualities. He was transparent in behaviour to friends and foes. He was decisive, and when he had made up his mind no threats, imploring or inducements could make him change his mind against his will. He was also magnanimous and generous with opponents. He accepted his mistakes openly and made amends for it. His easy access without any fuss about protocol made him friends galore. His house was always crowded with those holding high office and ordinary party workers. He gave time to all. Perhaps his most endearing quality, and on occasion his weakness too, was that he never gave up a friendship. He never cut and ran from a commitment and a responsibility. I could write a book on all the enduring acts as Prime Minister that has brought the nation from the brink by his decisiveness. Unfortunately his tenure was too short and he did not believe kept scribes in the media.
His decisiveness I witnessed in the government. In December 1990 as Prime Minister he told me to go Tamil Nadu to check out the alarming IB reports on LTTE activities in the State. Karunanidhi was Chief Minister then. I came back to report that if LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu were not checked soon the State would become worse than Kashmir. I recommended that we use Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss the government. Most in the government and in the opposition parties were against the recommendation. Many in government predicted dire consequences including bloodshed, arson, and even secessionist movement. Rajiv Gandhi supporting our government told me that it was me to decide but he would support whatever was decided. Chandrashekhar then asked me if I could take the responsibility of the move and ensure that the situation would not go out of control upon President'sRule being imposed. I said yes, and thereafter Chandrashekhar defended the decision as his own and marshaled material to demolish all arguments in Parliament against it. He backed me fully as a consequence of which not even a single bus was burnt in Tamil Nadu. The LTTE infrastructure of communication centre in Trichy, grenade factory in Coimbatore, uniform stitching factory in Erode and a network of petrol bunks were then destroyed root and branch. Since then there is no LTTE infrastructure in Tamil Nadu, only clandestine covert presence of a few stragglers. Tamil Nadu had been saved from the brink. Of course, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated subsequently, but that tragedy is a bigger story than signifying LTTE presence in Tamil Nadu.
Had Chandrashekhar been Prime Minister today there would have been no terrorism worth the name today in India. His decisiveness and sagacity would have ended it. There can be no bigger tribute than this for a loyal son Bharat Mata.