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When army headquarters recommended cancelling 1972 Republic Day parade

PTI 29 Jun 2014, 14:37:07 IST
New Delhi: The Army headquarters had recommended that the Republic Day parade in 1972 be cancelled but the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted the pageant to happen to celebrate Indian Army's stupendous victory in the 1971 War against Pakistan.

This and several other anecdotes find mention in a new book "Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw: The Man and His Times" on the charismatic military leader, fondly called Sam, written by his long-serving aide Brigadier (Retd) Behram Panthaki and his wife Zenobia.

After the victory in the 1971 war, the country was euphoric.

"The Indian Army had vindicated itself and the demons of the 1962 Chinese debacle had been exorcised. With units still in forward location, Army headquarters recommended that the Republic Day parade be cancelled, but the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted the pageant. There was a victory to celebrate there were tributes to pay," the book says.

The Amar Jawan Jyoti was erected at short notice by the CPWD under the canopy of India Gate.

"On January 26, 1972, before the commencement of the parade, Gandhi drove down Rajpath in an open jeep, followed by the three service chiefs, to pay homage to the fallen. A
scaled-down version of the parade followed. Contingents marched down Rajpath in battle fatigues rather than ceremonial uniforms," the Panthakis write.

The authors also say that Ms Gandhi was seriously considering appointing Manekshaw Chief of Defence Staff on Republic Day in 1972 but the move was opposed by Congress politicians led by Defence Minister Jagjivam Ram and by Air Chief Marshall PC Lal.

"The proposal was dropped and still eludes the services today, 42 years later," they say.

The book, published by Niyogi, is an anecdotal account of Manekshaw who changed the map of the subcontinent. Replete with photographs, citations,notes and personal correspondence,
it highlights his character, sense of humour, moral and professional courage, honesty, humility and respect for men in uniform.