After decades of debate over the imposition of Emergency in India, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has accepted that the move by her grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was “wrong” and a “mistake”.
Rahul Gandhi said this during a conversation with India’s former chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu. Notably, the Emergency was imposed by Indira Gandhi for a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977, when curbs were imposed on the fundamental rights of citizens.
Rahul Gandhi attacks BJP
In an apparent dig at the BJP government, Rahul Gandhi said that the current political scenario in the country cannot be compared to that during the Emergency as the Congress never tried to “capture the country’s institutional framework”.
The Congress leader also said that he was “all for internal democracy” within the party. When asked about his views on the Emergency, he said, “I think that was a mistake. Absolutely, that was a mistake. And my grandmother (Indira Gandhi) said as much.”
Asked about Indira Gandhi announcing elections at the end of the Emergency and Pranab Mukherjee telling Basu later, that she did so as she thought she might lose, Rahul Gandhi said there is a fundamental difference between what happened during the Emergency, which “was wrong”, and what is happening in the country now.
“The Congress party at no point attempted to capture India’s institutional framework and frankly, the Congress party does not even have that capability. Our design does not allow us that and even if we want, we cannot do it,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi attacks RSS
Gandhi alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is doing something “fundamentally different” and filling up the institutions of the country with its people.
“So, even if we defeat the BJP in the election, we are not going to get rid of their people in the institutional structure,” he said.
Gandhi recalled a conversation with former Congress Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath before his government was overthrown. Nath reportedly told him that senior bureaucrats in his government would not listen to him as they were RSS people and would not do something that they were asked to do.
“So, it is fundamentally different what is going on,” he said.
Internal democracy in Congress
On internal democracy within the Congress, Gandhi said he is the one who pushed for elections in the party at the Youth Congress and NSUI levels, but was criticised and attacked by his own party leaders.
He also wondered why nobody raises questions on why there is no internal democracy in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) and said such questions are asked about the Congress as it is an “ideological party” and has the ideology of the Constitution. “Therefore, it is more important for us to be democratic,” he said.
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