‘Absolutely, Emergency Was a Mistake’: Rahul Gandhi
However, Gandhi also pointed out that the Emergency period was fundamentally different from the current scenario.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, 2 March, said that the Emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a “mistake”, and what happened during that period (1975 to 1977) was “wrong”.
However, Rahul Gandhi also pointed out that Indira Gandhi’s Emergency period was fundamentally different from the current scenario as the Congress never attempted to capture India's institutional framework.
In conversation with economist Kaushik Basu of Cornell University, Rahul Gandhi said:
“I think that (Emergency) was a mistake. Absolutely, that was a mistake. And my grandmother (Indira Gandhi) said as much. (But) the Congress at no point attempted to capture India’s institutional framework.”
Gandhi further added: “Frankly, it (Congress) does not even have that capability. Our design does not allow us to do that.”
Gandhi also said that “modern democracies function because there is an institutional balance in the country.”
He, thereby, went on to make it adequately clear that this balance and independence of institutions is being attacked in today’s India.
“Now there is one big mother institution called the RSS that is penetrating all other Indian institutions,” said Gandhi.
Further, Gandhi said that even if the BJP is defeated in the election, they will still have their people in the institutional structure.
Gandhi added that he would not say “democracy is eroding, would say it is being strangled.”
‘Not Enough’, ‘Laughable’: BJP on Rahul Gandhi’s Remarks
On Wednesday, members of the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) including Haryana Chief Minister Anil Vij and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar offered rebukes to Gandhi’s statements.
CM Vij took to twitter, saying that the Congress leader’s statement was “not enough”. He wrote, “It is not enough for Rahul Gandhi to accept that the Emergency imposed by his grandmother in 1975 was a mistake, because anti-democratic and dictatorship thinking is still alive in Congress. Indira Gandhi may not be here but the rest of the leaders who supported the Emergency are still active in the Congress.”
He added that if Rahul Gandhi wants to atone for the emergency, then he should quit the ‘dictatorial’ congress party.
Union Minister Javadekar offered a response on Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on the RSS saying that they were ‘laughable.’
Addressing a press conference, the minister said, “Rahul Gandhi has said that during the Emergency institutions were not weakened. His comments are laughable. At the time, the government suppressed all organisations. MPs and MLAs were arrested. Almost all parties were banned. Newspapers were also shut down,” NDTV quoted.
Further, he said that it would take the Congress leader a ‘long time to understand the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)’, referring to it as the ‘biggest school of patriotism in the world’,
‘I Have Long Been Pushing for Elections Within Cong'
Responding to a question on internal democracy in the party, Rahul Gandhi said that he has long wanted elections within the Congress and was “literally crucified for this.”
He also added that nobody asks whether there is internal democracy in the BJP, the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) or the Samajwadi Party (SP), but went on to explain that “it doesn’t matter whether others are (internally democratic.)
"You are asking this to a person who has been pushing for elections in the party, in youth organisations for a decade. I was literally crucified for this. I have been attacked by my party people."
“Nobody asks whether there is internal democracy in BJP, BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) or Samajwadi Party (SP). There is a reason. We are an ideological formation. So it is more important for us to be democratic. It doesn’t matter whether others are.”
On Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination, His Killer and ‘Understanding Violence’
Rahul Gandhi shared that as a son, seeing his father walk towards death was more painful than Rajiv Gandhi’s death, knowing completely well that he won’t come out of what he was fighting.
Gandhi also said that his father’s death made him “understand violence”.
“I saw my father's killer lying on a Sri Lankan beach. And I felt bad for him. I was really upset for him. He is somebody else's father. So when someone talks about violence, I sort of sit quietly and say you don't actually understand violence. That's why you are so enamoured by it.”
“When Prabhakaran (LTTE leader) died, I picked up my phone and called my sister and said, ‘Priyanka this is strange that I am feeling bad. I should be happy about this. I am feeling disturbed that why are they humiliating the man like this?’”
“And Priyanka said she was feeling the same,” Rahul added.
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.