Today marks the 45th anniversary of the dreadful assault on democracy- The declaration of National Emergency by Indira Gandhi. While one may consider it as a thing of past, one which would not repeat again, we ask the question whether the party that imposed the Emergency- The Indian National Congress (Indira)- has improved or not?
Here are 10 instances which proves that the mentality of the Congress then and now has not changed. It still remains dictatorial, intolerant and centered around a unilateral command of power- the Gandhi family.
1. All Power in the Hands of Gandhis
Then, Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency without consulting either the Cabinet or the President. Why would a dynast, a daughter of a former PM and a dictator consult lesser humans? Declaration was a unilateral decision reeking of concentration of power.
Did things change later? No. Under the 10 years of UPA, Sonia Gandhi presided over the NAC, an extra-constitutional body, and directed the government’s policy despite not having the mandate for it. Who cares if Manmohan Singh was the PM?
2. No Space for Dissent, Babu Jagjivan Ram Knows It
If you run a Darbar, the last crime anyone can commit is to question the royalty. Dissent is alien to a dynastic culture. In Indira Gandhi’s times, many people within the Congress weren’t comfortable with the idea of Emergency. But who would question the one man show of Sanjay Gandhi? Finally, big leaders quit the Congress after the Emergency was lifted. Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram joined the Janata Party in 1977.
Congress today is no different. Not only it “expelled” Jyotiraditya Scindia for “anti-party activities”, it removed Sanjay Jha as the spokesperson recently because he dared to question the leadership of Congress in the wake of consistent defeats since 2014. History repeating itself?
3. All Praises to the Queen
When your political progress depends on how much you praise the dynast, what comes out is sycophancy. In the times of Emergency, a slogan became popular- India is Indira, Indira is India.
Things didn’t change much when Congress workers constructed a temple of Sonia Gandhi and worshipped her statue.
4. Intolerance to Opposition
How can opposition parties even exist in such a dynastic setup? The game plan is to hound them, jail their leaders and weaken them so that they won’t question you. During the Emergency, opposition leaders were jailed. LK Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Maharani of Jaipur Gayatri Devi, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia were put behind bars.
Similar things happened in the times of UPA 1 and 2. Remember the Hindu Terror lobby built up to blame BJP and RSS? Remember how then CM Narendra Modi was grilled for hours by the SIT despite having no role in Godhra riots? The rule is simple- By hook or by crook, weaken the opposition.
5. Fearful of Common People
Any gathering of crowds, especially in the favor of opposition is bound to upset the Congress. The tendency is to dismiss the crowds through police action or try to subvert them. The massive rally of Jayprakash Narayan in Delhi on 25th June made Indira Gandhi jittery. Using the reason of internal disturbance, she declared Emergency
Under the UPA, the nation saw massive protests for Lokpal and anti-corruption movements. What was the reaction? The focus was to arrest Anna Hazare and dispel crowds. The protest of Baba Ramdev was attacked by the police at midnight and crowds were mercilessly beaten up. A woman named Rajbala was injured and died due to police brutality. How can the Congress be open to the will of the people it rules?
6. Gagging the Media
Media, if in favor is always welcome. The moment it becomes critical, the Congress thinks of gagging it. In the times of Emergency, the I&B Ministry under V.C Shukla had the notorious reputation of censoring the media. It hounded The Indian Express and founder Ramnath Goenka because he opposed Emergency. Any news critical of the government was censored. Doordarshan and All India Radio became State propaganda channels.
Is something different happening? Journalist Arnab Goswami was hounded with multiple FIRs filed against him for merely taking the Italian name of Sonia Gandhi. Allegedly, Congress workers attacked his car. So much for media freedom!
7. Arm Twisting the Judiciary
Judiciary was the one who declared Indira Gandhi’s election unconstitutional. The independence of judiciary is a big threat for the politics of Congress. Even before Emergency, Indira Gandhi made A.N Ray as Chief Justice of India in 1973 surpassing other seniors. It is alleged that Justice Ray was “loyal” to the Gandhis. During Emergency, the constitution was amended stopping any judicial review of any action of government. Basically, judiciary couldn’t question any action of government!
In current times, the Congress is no different. The Congress brought an impeachment motion in the Parliament against then CJI Deepak Mishra to pressurize him.
8. Malpractices During Election
Indira Gandhi was accused of misusing the government machinery for her election from Rae Bareli. The Allahabad High Court declared her election null and void. This became the major reason for imposition of Emergency
Subversive tactics were used by the Congress during 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Cambridge Analytica is a shady firm that allegedly compromised private data from Facebook. Congress was a client in India where this data was used to unfairly influence the voter choices.
9. Twisted Laws and Policies
During Emergency, immature and extreme policies were brought. The forced sterilization lead to violence at Turkman Gate in Delhi. The unthoughtful policies led to discontent among the people.
The UPA was no different. The auction of critical national resources like 2G Spectrum and coal blocks led to revenue loss and cancellation of all licenses by Supreme Court.
10. Gagging of Bollywood
Bollywood has tremendous influence over the Indian mind. The artists hold a lot of social capital in influencing the people’s opinion. Bollywood singer Kishore Kumar opposed the Emergency. His shows were banned. The I&B Ministry took active steps to stop any telecast of his songs.
Nothing different happened in recent times. “The Accidental Prime Minister” was released as a movie on former PM Manmohan Singh. It was critical of Sonia Gandhi and her role in UPA government. Congress filed a PIL in court to stop the release of the movie.