In a book released on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, the Congress has touched upon the tricky topic of the internal emergency imposed in the country in 1975.
Dealing with an issue the party does not find itself comfortable with, the book — Congress and the making of the Indian Nation — states “unlimited state and party power” was concentrated in the then prime minister, the late Indira Gandhi.
“The period of emergency saw the suspension of normal political procedures and fundamental rights, arrests of the leaders of the Grand Alliance and enforcement of press censorship and strict discipline,” states the book, edited by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
“Powers of judiciary were reduced drastically. Unlimited state and party power was concentrated in the hands of the PM,” states the chapter on Indira Gandhi.
Highlighting the role of Indira’s younger son, the late Sanjay Gandhi, the book states that by then (emergency days) he had emerged as a leader of great significance. “It was due to his support to family planning that the government decided to pursue it more vigorously.”
On page 117, Sanjay’s style has been mentioned as authoritarian. “He also promoted slum clearance, anti-dowry measures and promotion of literacy in an arbitrary and authoritarian manner much to the annoyance of the popular opinion.”
On the late Jayaprakash Narayan, whose call for a “total revolution” is considered to be among the reasons for the imposition of emergency, the book says he “could not be faulted” on his integrity and selflessness, but added that his ideology was vague. The JP movement has been termed as “extra-constitutional and undemocratic.”
The book admits that more than one lakh people were arrested during the 19 months of emergency.
In the chapter devoted to the late Rajiv Gandhi, his achievements have been mentioned in great detail, with some interesting comments. “In his anxiety to make quick changes, he shuffled and reshuffled his team both in the party and the government frequently.”
In a positive mention, former prime minister the late PV Narasimha Rao has been credited with completing a full five-year term in office. It has praised Rahul Gandhi appreciating his initiatives during the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and some other states.