New book flays Indira Gandhi's decision to impose Emergency

It also accuses the late Prime Minister of "having emasculated the Congress party" and takes a dig at the "sycophancy" of Congress leaders that crossed all boundaries of decency.

Congress has, however, described the views expressed in this fifth volume of Congress history brought out by a group of editors, headed by senior party leader Pranab Mukherjee, as those of the individual writers and historians that cannot be taken as party views.

In the preface to the book, Mukherjee noted that Congress desired the volume to be edited and contributed by experts in order to generate an "objective and scholarly perspective for the period under review and "not necessarily have a party perspective".
The book, which was brought out to commemorate 125 years of the party, has in its various chapters contributed by independent authors, analysed the events from 1964 to 1984 in which Indira Gandhi dominated the political scene of the country.

"There is no question  that emergency was a sordid chapter in  independent India's history and a 19-month nightmare for all those who lived through it...it took an excruciatingly long time to flush out of the body politic  the emergency had pumped into the system," columnist Inder Malhotra says in his article, Indira Gandhi an overview.

"Since all her confidants, especially her increasingly powerful son Sanjay had ruled out her withdrawal from office 'even for a day', the hammer blow of emergency and Indira' monumental mistake had become inevitable...Sanjay and his cohorts had made elaborate preparations for Emergency in total secrecy," Malhotra says.

The comments have been made while narrating the sequel of the events leading to the imposition of Emergency after the Allahabad High Court judgement disqualifying her election to the Lok Sabha.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari downplayed the issue saying, "The book begins with two disclaimers that the views of the authors are not representatives of the views of Congress. If at all there is some author who has come to a conclusion which cannot be purported to be the conclusion of the party, we do not subscribe to those views."

In another chapter of the book 'JP Movement and the Emergency', historian Bipan Chandra says, "Sanjay Gandhi and his cronies like Bansi Lal, Minister of  Defence at the time, were keen on postponing elections and prolonging the emergency by several years...In October-November 1976, an effort was made to change the basic civil libertarian structure of the Indian Constitution thorough the 42nd amendment to it.

"....The most important changes were designed to strengthen the executive at the cost of the judiciary, and thus disturb the carefully crafted system of Constitutional checks and balance between the three organs of the government."

Chandra says Emergency centralised and concentrated unlimited state and party power in the hands of the Prime Minister to be exercised in an "authoritarian manner" through a small coterie of politicians and bureaucrats.

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