New Delhi | The 1975 Emergency was perhaps an avoidable event and Congress and Indira Gandhi had to pay a heavy price for this misadventure as suspension of fundamental rights and political activity, large scale arrests and press censorship adversely affected people, says President Pranab Mukherjee.
A junior minister under Gandhi in those turbulent times, Mukherjee however, is also unsparing of the opposition then under the leadership of the late Jayaprakash Narayan, JP, whose movement appeared to him to be directionless. The President has penned his thoughts about the tumultuous period in India’s post-independence history in his book The Dramatic Decade: the Indira Gandhi Years that has just been released.
He discloses that Indira Gandhi was not aware of the Constitutional provisions allowing for declaration of Emergency that was imposed in 1975 and it was Siddartha Shankar Ray who led her into the decision. Ironically, it was Ray, then Chief Minister of West Bengal, who also took a sharp about-turn on the authorship of the Emergency before the Shah Commission that went into ‘excesses’ during that period and disowned that decision, according to Mukherjee.
Mukherjee, who celebrated his 79th birthday today, says,The Dramatic Decade is the first of a trilogy; this book covers the period between 1969 and 1980…I intent to deal with the period between 1980 and 1998 in volume II, and the period between 1998 and 2012, which marked the end of my active political career, in volume III. At this point in the book, it will be sufficient to say here that many of us who were part of the Union Cabinet at that time (I was a junior minister) did not then understand its deep and far reaching impact.
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