By Arun Jaitley
FORTY One Years ago, on this very day Prime Minister INDIRA GANDHI imposed an internal emergency in the country. The phoney reason she gave was that there was a breakdown of public order in as much as Jai Prakash Narain had asked the Police and the Army not to follow illegal orders. The actual reason was that her continuation as the Prime Minister was threatened since the Allahabad High Court had unseated her as Member of Parliament for adopting corrupt practices during her election.
The impact of the Emergency was to inflict a dictatorship on the country. All political opponents were detained. The authority of the Courts to hear a challenge against the detentions was suspended. The Supreme Court caved in before the dictator. The Press was subjected to pre-censorship. The Press became a spokesperson of the dictator. No Public protest was allowed. The Parliament was without an opposition. By projecting her son Sanjay as her successor, the dictator converted India into a dynastic regime. Inner party democracy was throttled. The Parliament without an opposition amended the Constitution in order to legitimize a Constitutional dictatorship. Only Political workers offered some resistance by courting arrest and going to Jail. Politicians were the only Institution that fought the emergency since they were the only accountable section of society. The standards of accountability of the political class are high. Even the dictator had to face an electorate when faced with International and National opinion pressures. The collapse of the Media and the Supreme Court before the dictatorship was most significant.
If one looks back at the history of the Congress Party after independence, the blots on it are economic reforms being delayed by over two decades, transformation of India in to a dynastic democracy, the imposition of Emergency in 1975, Operation Blue Star and Corruption. I wonder whether the current leadership of the Congress Party has a view on this subject. Will the Congress Party have an internal debate on these issues?