It was a mistake: Rahul Gandhi on Indira-imposed Emergency
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that the Emergency imposed by his grandmother and late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a mistake. The Emergency had been imposed for 21 months, from 1975 to 1977, by Indira Gandhi. "I think that was a mistake. Absolutely, that was a mistake. And my grandmother (Indira Gandhi) said as much," the parliamentarian from Wayanad, Kerala, said.
While admitting Emergency was wrong, Gandhi also defended Congress
Gandhi made these remarks during a virtual interaction with renowned economist Kaushik Basu of the Cornell University, United States. Accepting that Indira Gandhi's actions were wrong, her grandson said, "The Congress at no point attempted to capture India's institutional framework... frankly, it does not even have that capability." He then told Basu, "Our (the Congress's) design does not allow us (to do so)."
He claimed RSS was taking over India's institutions
The 50-year-old politician said there was a fundamental difference between what happened during Emergency and what, he claimed, was happening in the current Bharatiya Janata Party-regime. He said BJP's ideological mentor — the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — is filling institutions with its members. Even if BJP is defeated in polls, "we are not going to get rid of their people in the institutional structure," he added.
The independence of institutions being attacked in India: Gandhi
"Modern democracies function because there is institutional balance. Institutions operate independently. That independence is being attacked in India (by) one big institution called RSS. It is being systematically done, would not say democracy is eroding, would say it is being strangled, (sic)" he commented.
He recalled a conversation he had with Kamal Nath
Gandhi mentioned a conversation with former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath right before the latter's government crumbled. Nath had apparently told Gandhi that senior bureaucrats would not be following his instructions as they are affiliated with the RSS. "So, it's fundamentally different what is going on," Gandhi said. When asked if there's "hope for democracy" in India, Gandhi replied, "Of course, there's hope."
BJP has slammed Congress over Emergency
To note, Congress has been frequently attacked over Emergency. In June last year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had tweeted, "One family's greed for power led to the imposition of the Emergency. Overnight the nation was turned into a prison. (sic)" In December, the Supreme Court took up a plea by a 94-year-old woman, who sought a declaration that the Emergency was "wholly unconstitutional."
On rift within Congress, Gandhi said he supports internal polls
Meanwhile, Gandhi also revealed that he was attacked by his partymen for supporting elections at the Youth Congress and NSUI levels. "I am the first person who says democratic elections within the party is absolutely critical," he said. He also wondered why no one raises questions about the lack of democracy in BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), or Samajwadi Party (SP).
This morning, Gandhi shared a snippet from his interaction, saying that someone would take his words out of context and it will be covered by Indian news religiously. "That's just the way it is, but I am okay with it," he added.