The BJP on Wednesday said that Sanjay Gandhi alone could not be held responsible for the excesses committed during the Emergency and accused the Congress of being in the habit of putting all the blame for its "wrong-doings" on those who are either dead or "not in the mainstream".
"After 35 years, the Congress party has accepted that the Emergency was a mistake. But they are trying to heap the blame for their mistake on others. The Congress always tries to hide its wrong-doings," BJP Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.
He was referring to a Congress publication titled "Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation" on completion of 125 years of the party. The book, edited by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, states that Sanjay Gandhi acted in an "authoritarian and arbitrary manner" on issues of family planning and slum clearance during the Emergency.
Noting that Sanjay Gandhi had by then emerged as a leader of great significance, the book said that it was due to his support to family planning that the government decided to pursue it more vigorously.
"He also promoted slum clearance, anti-dowry measures and promotion of literacy but in an arbitrary and authoritarian manner much to the annoyance of the popular opinion" it says.
Sanjay Gandhi's widow Maneka and son Varun are now BJP MPs and the latter is also a national secretary and election in-charge of the party for Assam.
As if defending Sanjay Gandhi, Hussain said, "Indira Gandhi was powerful enough to take her own decisions."
Pressed further about Sanjay Gandhi's involvement in the excesses during the Emergency, Hussain said, "Each Congress leader was responsible for it but it is not our culture to blame those who are dead.... Congress always tries to distance itself from controversial issues... On Ayodhya issue, they tried to put the blame on a former Prime Minister."
Hussain alleged that Congress always named somebody to keep itself away from a controversy.
"Those (Congressmen) who were against the Emergency left the Congress. We consider each Congressman responsible for excesses of the Emergency. Congressmen cannot get away by putting the blame on others. The people had also punished the Congress for its mistake," Hussain said.
"Along with him (Sanjay Gandhi), we consider all Congressmen responsible," he added, but refrained from naming Sanjay.
The Lok Sabha MP maintained that Congress always gives credit to the present leadership for all the good and blames the marginalized for all the wrongdoings.
"This is an old habit with the party. It gives credit to the present leadership for whatever good happens and puts the blame for whatever goes wrong on one leader to get away clean," he added.
The BJP spokesperson also mentioned the case of Union Carbide CEO William Anderson to buttress his point, saying the Congress is holding another leader responsible for his "escape" from India.
"Congress wants to put the blame on those who are not in the mainstream and move towards holiness. The atrocities committed by them during the Emergency in enforcing family planning and snatching press freedom is well-known to the country," he said.