Sanjay Gandhi worked in an authoritarian manner: Congress book

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 18:02

New Delhi: In a frank self-assessment,
the Congress has admitted that "unlimited state and party
power" was concentrated in the then Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi during the emergency when Sanjay Gandhi implemented
various measures in an "arbitrary and authoritarian" manner.

The party also came out with some unpleasant home
truth saying Rajiv Gandhi shuffled and reshuffled his
team both in the party and the government frequently and
failed to carry out his promise of reform in the organisation
as a corollary to his attack on power brokers within.
"The period of Emergency saw the suspension of normal
political procedures and fundamental rights, ....enforcement
of press censorship......

"Powers of judiciary were reduced drastically.
Unlimited state and party power was concentrated in the hands
of the Prime Minister," says the book "The Congress And The
Making Of The Indian Nation", edited by party veteran Pranab
Mukherjee.

The book has been brought out on the occasion of the
party completing 125 years. The infamous Emergency was imposed
in June, 1975 which lasted till January, 1977 when Gandhi
ordered elections.

Noting that Sanjay Gandhi had by then emerged as a
leader of great significance, the book said it was due to his
support to family planning that the government decided to
pursue it more vigorously.

"He also promoted slum clearance, anti-dowry measures
and promotion of literacy but in an arbitrary and
authoritarian manner much to the annoyance of the popular
opinion" it says.

The book recalls that while vast sections of the
population welcomed the Emergency initially since general
administration improved, "unfortunately in certain spheres,
over enthusiasm led to compulsion in the enforcement of
certain programmes like compulsory sterilisation and clearing
of slums".

On Jayaprakash Narayan, whose call for a "total
revolution" that led to the imposition of Emergency, the book
says that he "could not be faulted" on his integrity and
selflessness, but added that his ideology was "vague". It
describes JP`s movement as "extra-constitutional and
undemocratic."

It also refers to the fact that more than one lakh
people were arrested during the Emergency.

Regarding Rajiv Gandhi, the book says that in his
anxiety to make quick changes, he shuffled and reshuffled his
team both in the party and the government frequently.
"The promises of reform in the party which he made in
his famous Bombay speech as a corollary to attack on power
brokers in the party, could not be fulfilled. Party elections,
long overdue, were put off again and again", the book says.

The book has something good to say about the government
headed by late Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, who had
hardly got any flattering references in recent years.

"It was creditable that his (Rao) government completed
full term, making him the first person outside the Nehru-
Gandhi family to serve as PM for five continuous years," says
the book.

Noting that the major achievement of this government
was the carrying forward of the process of economic reforms
which the Congress party had outlined in its election
manifesto (when Rajiv Gandhi was the leader), the book
says.

Interestingly, Sonia Gandhi made a rare reference to
Rao in her speech in the Congress Plenary last week when she
hailed him for pushing economic reforms.

The book praises Rahul Gandhi appreciating his
initiatives during the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and
some other states. It makes no reference to recent Bihar
Assembly elections where the party suffered a rout.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 18:02

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