Congress on Wednesday sought to explain the reference to Emergency excesses of Sanjay Gandhi in its book, saying they were "unpleasant truths" and it can't be just "goody-goody things when you write history".
"Something has also been said that about Sanjay Gandhi in the book. There is nothing new in it. All this is history and if everything goody-goody is written in history, nobody will like to read it," party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said
Replying to a volley of questions on the book brought out by the party in which there is candid self-assessment, Ahmed said, "History is history. It (the book) should be looked in that perspective. This should not be looked into from any other point of view and should not be analyzed in any other way".
In the book 'Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation', the party has admitted that "unlimited state and party power" was concentrated in the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the Emergency when Sanjay Gandhi implemented various measures in an "arbitrary and authoritarian" manner.
Seeking to justify the statements, Ahmed recalled that Indira Gandhi had herself expressed regrets about the excesses after the Emergency.
Dismissing charges that the Congress has sought to demean Sanjay Gandhi and attempted to disown him, he said that the book notes that the late leader had then emerged as a leader of great significance.
"Saying that Congress has tried to demean Sanjay Gandhi or disowned him is not correct. In that book itself it is written that Sanjay Gandhi was a leader of eminence and prominence.... The book refers to the period of emergency and also talks about some unpleasant truths of that time," Ahmed said.
Asked whether the party accepts the contents of the book as the party's 'official version', Ahmed said, "Off course. It is Congress' official version.
"The book was released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Pranab Mukherjee, our senior most leader after the two was the editor in chief for the publication. Union Minister Anand Sharma was convenor of the editorial board. So there is no question of saying that we do not endorse it."
He said the book has been written by a group of historians in consultation with the party leadership.
The Congress spokesperson at the same time maintained that the party does not agree the way the remarks in the book have been projected by the media.
"What is written in the book is about some acts during Emergency for which Indira Gandhi had herself expressed regret," he said.
The book, which has party veteran Pranab Mukherjee as its Chief Editor, has been brought out on the occasion of the party completing 125 years. The infamous Emergency was imposed in June, 1975 which lasted till January, 1977 when Gandhi ordered elections.
The Opposition BJP today attacked the Congress for the remarks on Emergency saying the ruling party has the habit of putting all the blame for its wrongdoings on those who are 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 stick the blame for their mistake on others. The Congress always tries to hide its wrong-doings," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.
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.
The Congress spokesperson, meanwhile, dismissed suggestions that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was summoned by Sonia Gandhi after contents of the book appeared in media.
"Pranab ji is one of the senior most leaders of Congress and keeps on going to 10 Janpath (Sonia Gandhi's residence) for deliberations. The use of the word summoning is not correct. If he has gone there or has been called, there is nothing to be surprised about it," Ahmed said when asked whether Gandhi summoned Mukherjee over publication of the book content.
Earlier in the day, Mukherjee met Gandhi apparently to discuss the party strategy on the eve of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar'S proposed discussion with leaders of all parties to find a way to resolve the deadlock over the demand for JPC to probe 2G spectrum issue.
To a question on whether the party agrees with the book drawing parallels between Sonia Gandhi declining Prime Minister's chair in 2004 and Mahatama Gandhi's sacrifices, Ahmed said, "it is not comparison between the two. It was not the spirit of the book."
"What the book says is not about comparison but about inspiration and getting inspiration for any Indian from Mahatama Gandhi is natural. When somebody declines a post like Prime Minister, references are made in that proportion," Ahmed said.