Advani: Congress is trying to make Sanjay Gandhi a scapegoat

Bharatiya Janata Party leader L. K. Advani on Sunday alleged that the Congress was making a “ridiculous attempt” to make Sanjay Gandhi a “scapegoat” for all the wrongs during the Emergency, and held the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi responsible for it.

Referring to a mention on Sanjay Gandhi in Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation, a book released recently to commemorate 125 years of the party, Mr. Advani wrote in his blog: “The paragraph from the book is a ridiculous attempt to make Sanjay Gandhi a scapegoat for all the misdeeds the country had to suffer during the Emergency.”

As soon as the book was released, BJP leaders had defended Sanjay, saying he was being singled out for the excesses of the Emergency.

Sanjay's wife Maneka Gandhi and son Varun are BJP MPs.

Another senior BJP leader Jagmohan was a close associate of Sanjay.

Mr. Advani, who was in jail for several months during the Emergency, held Indira Gandhi responsible for imposing the Emergency.

“Without consulting her Cabinet, or even her Law Minister and Home Minister, she made President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed invoke Article 352 to put democracy under indefinite suspension,” he said.

Mr. Advani maintained that Indira Gandhi could not bear the Allahabad High Court verdict which indicted her for electoral corruption, and decided to clamp the Emergency.

‘Authoritarian manner'

“The Congress party publication indicates that the party regrets only the ‘excesses' committed during the Emergency, because Sanjay promoted worthwhile causes such as slum clearance, anti-dowry measures, and literacy; but in an arbitrary and authoritarian manner,” Mr. Advani said.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said that whenever the executive finds anything “unpalatable” in a judicial verdict it tries to make changes by mobilising legislative support, but Indira Gandhi “did not stop there”.

He stated that when all high courts rejected the government's suspension of fundamental rights, the government appealed to the Supreme Court. All high court judges who dissented were punished, he alleged, saying 19 were transferred.

Compares to Nazi rule

Mr. Advani compared the Emergency days to the infamous Nazi rule in Germany under Adolf Hitler, during which lakhs of Jews were killed.

The BJP leader headlined his latest blog posting, “Emergency of 1975 akin to Nazi rule”.

Though he has not explained why he chose to use the term, he quotes Justice H. R. Khanna, the only dissenting Supreme Court judge, who had used it in the case where the Government of India had appealed against a high court judgment in favour of those detained during the Emergency under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act).

“It has been argued that suspending the right of a person to move any Court for the enforcement of right to life and personal liberty is done under a constitutional provision and therefore it cannot be said that the resulting situation would mean the absence of the rule of law.....

“.....In one sense, it might in that event be argued that even if lives of hundreds of persons are taken capriciously and maliciously without the authority of law, it is enforcement of the above enacted law. Thus, in a purely formal sense, any system or norm based on a hierarchy of orders, even the organised mass murders of Nazi regime can qualify as law,” Justice H. R. Khanna said his judgment, according to Mr. Advani.

He was referring to Article 21 of the Constitution which guarantees right not only to personal liberty but also to life.

Mr. Advani states that 1,10,806 people were detained during the Emergency.“Of these 34,988 were detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act whereunder no grounds were to be given to the prisoner,” he said.

Several detained people had filed habeas corpus petitions in high courts which were challenged by the government.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 11:14:14 AM |

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