Sanjay Gandhi worked in an authoritarian manner: Congress book
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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.


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

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