Intelligence Bureau advised Indira to lift Emergency: ex-chief

Intelligence Bureau advised Indira to lift Emergency: ex-chief

Intelligence Bureau advised Indira to lift Emergency: ex-chief
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) advised Indira Gandhi twice to lift Emergency within a year of its imposition, as it was “perhaps the best time” to call for elections, a new book by then IB chief T V Rajeshwar says.

According to him, Indira was inclined to go with the IB’s second advice in June 1976 but a “section of influential people” consisting of Congress sycophants, top Home Ministry officials and the Prime Minister’s Secretariat opposed the move and got their way with Sanjay Gandhi supporting them.

“If only Mrs Gandhi had acted on the recommendations at that stage, the turn of events would have been entirely different. After October 1976, it was too late to undo the negative effects of Emergency, and the initiative went into the hands of the Opposition,” he writes in “India: The Crucial Years”.

Indira lifted Emergency later in January 1977 and called for elections but she lost the polls held in March the same year. The first suggestion to call for elections came in January 1976, six months after Emergency was imposed, while the second came in June same year.

Recalling those days, he writes, “At the end of six months, after the imposition of Emergency, the IB recommended calling it off in January 1976, releasing all the prisoners and going for elections in March. It would have been perhaps the best time. But most people, including Mrs Gandhi, were so happy and content with the Emergency’s aftermath that they were not prepared to consider any such recommendation.”

As the country approached the first anniversary of Emergency in June 1976, the IB again undertook an “exhaustive” review. The IB felt that a review was needed because of the Emergency’s “negative aspects” like enforcement of family planning, indiscriminate arrests and “trend of economic deterioration”.

“The economic situation was becoming difficult by them, and prices were increasing perceptibly in the summer months of 1976. Smuggling increased manifold. The rupee was under great pressure in the international market,” he recalls.

“It was felt that the opposition was as yet in disarray, and it would be a good step to take them by surprise by announcing elections in September or October (1976) after releasing prisoners on the first anniversary of Emergency,” Rajeshwar writes.

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