Congress MP and former party's president Rahul Gandhi has on Tuesday said that the 'Emergency period' imposed by the then ruling Congress in 1975 was a mistake and what happened during that period was wrong. It was the first time that Rahul Gandhi had openly admitted that the Emergency period was a mistake and his admission has come forty-five years after what remains India's incessant scar of grave violations on democratic rights.
Making an open admission, Rahul Gandhi said that the emergency period was fundamentally different from the current scenario as the Congress party had never attempted to capture the country's institutional framework. The Congress leader was in conversation with Kaushik Basu, a professor at the Cornell University in the United States, during which he said that he is all for internal democracy in the Congress party, which fought for India's Independence, gave the country its Constitution, and stood for equality.
Kaushik Basu was also India's former chief economic advisor and during the conversation, Basu asked the Congress leader about his views on the Emergency for which Rahul Gandhi said, "I think that was a mistake. Absolutely, that was a mistake. And my grandmother (Indira Gandhi) said as much. By citing that what happened during the Emergency was wrong, he said that there is a fundamental difference between what happened during the Emergency and what is happening in the country currently.
Rahul Gandhi said, "The Congress party at no point attempted to capture India's institutional framework and frankly, the Congress party doesn't even have that capability. Our design does not allow us that and even if we want, we cannot do it". The Congress leader alleged that the RSS, the root body of BJP, is doing something fundamentally different.
He said that the RSS has been filling up the institutions of the country with its people. He added, "Even if we defeat the BJP in the election, we are not going to get rid of their people in the institutional structure". He staunchly accused Kiran Bedi, who was former Lt. Governor of Puducherry and Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, and said that people sitting in constitutional posts fail to perform their duties. The Governors held the post by thinking it's an ideological one instead of the constitutional one.
He slammed Kiran Bedi and said that she belongs to RSS and she subverted the democratic process by blocking the bills from getting passed in Puducherry. On the front of the internal democracy within the Congress, Rahul Gandhi said that he has pushed for elections in the party at the Youth Congress and National Students' Union of India (NSUI) levels but he was flayed and attacked by the own party leaders.
By citing that "It is more important for us to be democratic", Rahul Gandhi questioned why there is no internal democracy in the BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the Samajwadi Party (SP). When responding to the question about how he felt about the death of his father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi said, "it made me understand violence".
The emergency was imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. The emergency period was active for 21 months from 1975 to 1977 across the country. In what was one of the most controversial periods of independent India's history, the order of imposing the emergency period was issued by then President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed at the behest of Indira Gandhi's decision.
The order of emergency was bestowed upon the Prime Minister the authority to rule by decree, which had allowed to suspend the elections and curb the civil liberties. During the tenure of the emergency period, most of Indira Gandhi's political opponents were imprisoned and the press was censored and restricted from exercising liberty and the country had also witnessed several human rights violations and as the sequel of the appalling events, the Emergency is widely considered a dark age in Indian democracy.