Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wasn't Indira Gandhi the prime minister during the Emergency?

The official history of the Congress party has blamed Sanjay Gandhi for the excesses committed in family planning and slum clearance campaigns during the Emergency. It is less than clever ploy to distance Indira Gandhi, post facto, from those unpopular steps which were largely responsible for the party's defeat in the 1977 general election. What Sanjay and his over-enthusiastic supporters in the Youth Congress were doing in those fateful nineteen months had Indira Gandhi's unmistakable approval and she should be held accountable for all of that. After all, she had not ceased to be the prime minister with the rise of Sanjay.

What all Sanjay did during the Emergency, he did it openly and if the prime minister, Indira Gandhi, ever had the impression that he was overstepping the limits she could and should have stopped him. That she chose not do that only goes to establish that his actions, howsoever mistaken they may appear in retrospect, had her seal of sanction. Obviously, the hagiographers of the Congress party could not attribute any sins of the Emergency to its author, Indira Gandhi, because Mrs. Gandhi 2.0 sources her legitimacy as the party’s undisputed leader in the original Mrs. Gandhi and Rajiv, nor could they omit the mention of that period from the official history, so, they decided to hang on the now long dead Sanjay everything that had gone wrong. Now that his wife and son are in the principal opposition party, the BJP, making Sanjay the scapegoat for the crimes and excesses perpetrated 34-35 years ago is also politically expedient.

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