In a conversation with Kaushik Basu, a professor at the Cornell University in the US and India’s former chief economic advisor, on being asked about emergency, Rahul Gandhi said “I think that was a mistake. Absolutely, that was a mistake. And my grandmother (Indira Gandhi) said as much.“
I am interpreting this statement as if he is saying the emergency actually weakened the Gandhis. The aura which Indiraji had built around her was blown to pieces and Gandhis realized they are not invincible. How? Lets analyze.
Before the emergency Article 352(which was used to proclaim emergency) had a flaw. It said that emergency will be declared if there is an “Internal Disturbance”. “Internal Disturbance” can be subject to wide interpretation. Around the same time Jai Prakash Narayan had asked the army and police to disobey Govt orders. Indiraji used this as a pretext to declare emergency.
During the emergency, Indiraji did many nefarious things, which had not the Janta Party Govt. not repaired would have destroyed the democracy in India. How?
- She passed the 39th and 42nd constitutional amendment act. Essentially, these two amendments snatched away a lot of powers from state govts, diminished the power of Supreme Court, gave full immunity to PM(even if PM rapes some one, FIR cannot be filed), increased the term of Lok Sabha to six years and many other changes.
- However, after Janta Party came to power, it reverted all the changes made in 39th and 42nd Amendment by passing 43rd and 44th Amendments, thereby spilling water on Indiraji’s designs of making India an absolute dictatorship.
- By appointing her loyalist, Justice A.N. Ray as Chief Justice of Supreme court, she ensured that Supreme Court stays in her favor during the emergency.
Lets now analyze why the emergency actually weakened the Gandhis?
- Till 1977, no non-INC party had ever came to power. Once, Janta Party got elected, though it just stayed for 3 years, it created an impression among people that a non-Congress and non-Gandhi Govt is possible.
- For passing the 43rd and 44th Amendments, 2/3rd majority and approval of 50% state legislatures are needed. At that time, Janta Party had a majority in Lok Sabha. In Rajya Sabha INC still had the majority and majority of state Govts belonged to INC. With INC MPs and INC state govts. voting for 43rd/44th amendments, it became clear that Indiraji’s hold within the Congress is itself weak and not many in INC actually like the Gandhis.
- 43rd and 44th Constitutional Amendments made it very tough to impose and sustain an emergency. Hence, after 1977, emergency was never imposed using Article 352. No person can every dream to become a dictator using Article 352.
- The 43rd and 44th Amendments also increased the power of Judiciary, there by limiting Indiarji’s power once she got re-elected in 1980.
- This was a desperate battle which Indiraji lost. Due to this loss, the morale of RSS/BJP increased manifold. We have already seen two PMs from BJP.
- Emergency also created a new generation of non-Congress leaders who posed a big challenge to the Gandhi dynasty.
Hence, in my opinion, Gandhis would have been stronger and the dynasty would held power longer had there been no emergency.
Hence, I agree with Rahul Gandhi that Emergency was a mistake which cost them the Crown of India for ever.
No Gandhi in future will ever be as powerful(even one hundredth) as Nehruji or Indiraji.
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