Pranab counters Indira's critics

Pranab counters Indira's critics

Pranab counters Indira's critics

Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee used his farewell speech to parliamentarians on Sunday to counter critics of former prime minister Indira Gandhi who have used the Emergency imposed in the country between 1975 and 1977 to attack the Congress.

In what was seen as a rebuff to some BJP leaders who have seized upon the recent row over Madhur Bhandarkar's latest film, Indu Sarkar, to highlight the wrongdoings during the Emergency, Mukherjee said he learnt to correct his mistakes only from her.

Addressing MPs in the Central Hall of Parliament, Mukherjee said, "My career as a Parliamentarian was no doubt mentored by Shrimati Indira Gandhi. Her steely determination, clarity of thought and decisive actions made her a towering personality."

Recalling an incident, Mukherjee said, "She never hesitated to call a spade a spade. I remember after the defeat of Congress in the post-Emergency election, we had gone to London in November 1978."

He said a large number of media persons in a fairly aggressive mood was waiting to ask Gandhi questions.

"The first question that was flung at her was, 'What have been your gains from the Emergency?' Looking at the journalist squarely in the eye, in a level voice, Indira Gandhi replied, 'In those 21 months, we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of Indian people.' Big silence followed by loud laughter! Not one question was asked after that and the media persons just melted away," said Mukherjee.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi who was sitting among the front row of the audience was seen nodding in agreement to Mukherjee's observation.

Mukherjee, whose rise in politics is attributed to his proximity to Indira Gandhi after she returned to power in 1980, said "I also learnt an early lesson of acknowledging my mistakes and rectifying them. Self-correction in such situations is always a better option than self-justification."

'Indu Sarkar' is based on a 21-month long period, from 1975 to 1977, when Indira Gandhi as PM unilaterally had declared a State of Emergency across the country. After ordering 12 cuts, the CBFC granted U/A certificate to the film.

The trailer of the movie led the Congress party to ask the CBFC for a review before it comes under the scanner. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam wrote to CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani, expressing the grand old party's wish to watch the movie before it is 'censored'. Later, Congress workers stopped events for the promotion of the film in Mumbai and Pune.

Bollywood filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar took to Twitter sought Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's intervention to protect his freedom to exhibit the film. "Do you approve this hooliganism? Can I have my Freedom of Expression?" Bhandarkar tweeted.

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