Cong making Sanjay scapegoat, says Advani

Congress is trying to make Sanjay Gandhi a scapegoat for the "misdeeds" of Emergency rule, he said.

New Delhi: BJP leader LK Advani on Sunday charged the Congress with trying to make Sanjay Gandhi a scapegoat for the "misdeeds" of Emergency rule, which he said was "an unforgivable crime against democracy".

It is "a ridiculous attempt to make Sanjay Gandhi a scapegoat for all the misdeeds the country had to suffer during the Emergency" of 1975-77, Advani said in his latest blog.

Advani, who was among the political leaders jailed during the Emergency, was referring to references about the late Sanjay Gandhi in a book brought out by the Congress, Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation.

Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of Indira Gandhi, was widely dubbed an "extra constitutional authority" for the powers he wielded during the 21 months of Emergency rule when thousands of political activists were jailed and the media muzzled.

Sanjay Gandhi died in a stunt plane crash in 1980, by which time Indira Gandhi and the Congress had returned to power.
Advani said while the book has just two paragraphs on what happened during the Emergency, it devotes two pages about the factors leading to it.

This included mass protests led by Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan`s which the book said was an "extra-constitutional and undemocratic movement", and the Allahabad High Court verdict unseating prime minister Indira Gandhi.

"In the last 60 years, whenever the executive has found a judicial verdict unpalatable, its reaction has been to have the verdict undone by mobilizing legislative support for the executive`s viewpoint. In 1975 also this was sought to be done by amending the law.

"But (Indira) Gandhi did not stop there. Without consulting her cabinet, or even her law minister and home minister, she made president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed invoke article 352 (of the constitution) to put democracy under indefinite suspension," Advani wrote.

He added: "The Congress publication indicates that the party regrets only the `excesses` during the Emergency because Sanjay Gandhi promoted worthwhile causes such as slum clearance, anti-dowry measures, and literacy but in an arbitrary and authoritarian manner."
Advani said he holds that "promulgation of the Emergency itself was an unforgivable crime against democracy".

The BJP leader said almost all prisoners arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act filed habeas corpus petitions in high courts, and almost all the courts rejected the government`s objection.

"The diary I used to maintain while I was in prison records the names of 19 judges who were transferred to other high courts because they had decided against the government!"