UPDATED: March 3, 2021 00:56 IST
The imposition of Emergency by the Congress was a “mistake” but the party “never attempted to capture the constitutional framework” of India, said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday.
Terming the Emergency imposed by his grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as “wrong”, Rahul Gandhi said what is happening in India currently was “fundamentally different” from the Emergency. He alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is trying to capture independent institutions.
He said this in a virtual interaction with Prof Kaushik Basu of the Cornell University.
“I think that (Emergency) was a mistake. Absolutely that was a mistake.There is a fundamental difference between what happened in the Emergency, which was wrong, and what is happening now. Congress party, at no point, attempted to capture India’s constitutional framework. Our design doesn’t allow us that. Even if we want to do it, we can’t,” Rahul Gandhi said.
This was a rare instance for a member of the Gandhi family to publicly term the Emergency as “wrong” and a “mistake”. Earlier, during the 2019 Lok Sabh election too, Rahul Gandhi had apologised in an interview saying the Emergency was a mistake
On January 24, 1978 at a Maharashtra rally Indira Gandhi apologised for excesses committed during Emergency she had imposed in 1975.
Attacking the BJP-RSS, Rahul Gandhi said what they are presently doing in India is “fundamentally different” from what happened in the Emergency.
“They are filling institutions with their people. Even if we defeat BJP in the election, we are not going to get rid of their people in the institutional structure,” Rahul Gandhi said.
“Modern democracies function because there is an institutional balance in the countryinstitutions that operate independently. That independence is being attacked in India. There is one big mother institution called the RSS that is penetrating all institutions. There is not a single one that is not under attack and it is done systematically,” Rahul Gandhi alleged.
He went on to say, “The judiciary, the press, the bureaucracy, the Election Commission, every institution is systematically being filled by people who have a particular ideology and belong to a certain institution.”
Was crucified for holding elections in Youth Congress: Rahul
Responding to charges of there being a lack of internal democracy in the Congress, Rahul Gandhi claimed that he was “literally crucified” for holding elections in the Youth Congress.
“I am the person who pushed elections in youth organisation and student organisation and got a serious beating in the press for that. I was literally crucified for doing elections. I was attacked by my own party people,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Attacking other political parties and questioning the lack of criticism they face over internal democracy within the party, Rahul Gandhi said, “It is interesting to me that this question is not asked about any other political party. Nobody asked why is there no internal democracy in BJP, BSP and the Samajwadi Party.”
“But they ask about Congress because there is a reason. We are an ideological party and our ideology is the ideology of the Constitution, so it is more important for us to be democratic,” he said.