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Emergency is the biggest blot on Congress legacy: Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley
Arun JaitleyJun 26, 2016 | 14:28

Emergency is the biggest blot on Congress legacy: Arun Jaitley

Forty-one years ago, on June 25, prime minister Indira Gandhi imposed an internal Emergency in the country. The reason she gave was that there was a breakdown of public order inasmuch as Jayaprakash Narayan had asked the police and army not to follow illegal orders.

The actual reason was that her continuation as the prime minister was threatened since the Allahabad High Court had unseated her as a member of Parliament for adopting corrupt practices during her election.

The impact of the Emergency was to impose a dictatorship on the country. All political opponents were detained. The authority of the courts to hear a challenge against the detentions was suspended. The Supreme Court caved in before the dictator.

indira-sanjay_062616021431.jpg
By projecting her son Sanjay as her successor, Indira Gandhi converted India into a dynastic regime. 

The press was subjected to pre-censorship. It became a spokesperson of the dictator. No public protest was allowed. The Parliament was without an Opposition.

By projecting her son Sanjay as her successor, the dictator converted India into a dynastic regime. Intra-party democracy was throttled. The Parliament without an Opposition amended the Constitution in order to legitimise a Constitutional dictatorship.

Only political workers offered some resistance by courting arrest and going to jail. Politicians were the only ones who fought the Emergency since they constituted the only accountable section of the society. The standards of accountability of the political class were high.

Even the dictator had to face the pressure of international and national public opinion and had to answer to the electorate. The collapse of the media and Supreme Court before the dictatorship was, however, most significant.

If one looks back at the history of the Congress after independence, the blots on it are economic reforms being delayed by over two decades, the transformation of India into a dynastic regime, imposition of Emergency in 1975, Operation Blue Star and large-scale corruption. I wonder whether the current leadership of the Congress has a view on this subject.

Will the party have an internal debate on these issues?

Last updated: June 26, 2016 | 14:33
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