The Emergency was a mistake, said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday as a he spoke to Professor Kaushik Basu of the Cornell University.
Gandhi said, “I think that was a mistake. Absolutely, that was a mistake. And my grandmother said as much.”
The Emergency was imposed in India 1975 to 1977 when Indira Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother, was in power. The Congress has often been criticised for the Emergency over the years.
In 2020, Home Minister Amit Shah had attacked the the Congress in a series of tweets saying, “On this day, 45 years ago one family’s greed for power led to the imposition of the Emergency. Overnight the nation was turned into a prison. The press, courts, free speech…all were trampled over. Atrocities were committed on the poor and downtrodden.”
Gandhi said, “There is a fundamental difference between what happened during Emergency, and it was wrong, and what is happening now. The Congress party at no point attempted to capture India’s institutional framework. And frankly the Congress party doesn’t have that capability, our design doesn’t allow us that.”
When asked if there was hope for democracy and freedom of speech in India, Gandhi said, “Of course there’s hope, but it’s much deeper than muzzling debate.”
Gandhi said that the independence of institutions that help run a democracy were being attacked. “It is being systematically done.”
Talking about the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, his father, he said that his father’s death “shaped me fundamentally”.
Gandhi, “At one level, my father was assassinated and it’s violent and painful. But at another level it is losing a parent.
“For me at that time, I saw my father fighting forces that there were much bigger. And I sort of sensed, before he died, that this was not going to end well. So what was worse for me was seeing my father walking towards his death,” he said.