Did Indira Gandhi have no role in the Emergency?

First Maneka Gandhi was unceremoniously kicked out of the Indira Gandhi household in an episode that presaged the saas-bahu TV serials by about two decades. Now, her late husband, Sanjay Gandhi, it seems, is himself being sent to the doghouse in the Congress.

The description of Indira Gandhi’s mercurial younger son as “arbitrary and authoritarian” in a two-volume official Congress book, holding him responsible for the controversial family planning and slum clearance measures, can be seen either as setting the record straight, or as convenient white-washing.

According to the book, while vast sections of the population welcomed the moves initially since general administration improved,

“…civil rights activists took exception to the curbs on freedom of expression and personal liberties. Unfortunately, in certain spheres, over-enthusiasm led to compulsion in enforcement of certain programmes like compulsory sterilisation and clearing of slums”.

While the acknowledgement of Sanjay Gandhi’s role is welcome, it begs the question: was Indira Gandhi really a puppet in her son’s hands? Did post-independent India’s “strongest prime minister” have no say in any of the controversial measures of the Emergency, including press censorship?

Was she that amenable and vulnerable to an extra-constitutional authority even if he operated from her own house?

Equally, while fixing the blame for the Emergency, 35 years later, might seem odd, the fact that no such effort is being made for the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984 reveals a bit. Would Sanjay Gandhi have suffered this fate at the hands of Congress hagiographers if he were still alive? Or if his widow and his equally execrable son, Varun Gandhi, were not on the other side of the political fence?

Also read: ‘Middle-class will never understand Indira Gandhi

CHURUMURI POLL: Was Emergency good for us?

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15 Responses to “Did Indira Gandhi have no role in the Emergency?”

  1. Complex Says:

    Taking credit for good things , shifting responsibility on difficult issues – The Gandhi family won’t change. We need a better opposition to counter 18th century feudalism in the Congress.

  2. JustIndia Says:

    The question that comes to my mind is:
    Didn’t Sonia Gandhi/ Rahul Gandhi have a role to play in what goes into this two-volume official Congress book??

  3. Suneel Sardana Says:

    Late Sanjay Gandhi played the same game & enjoyed the same super power what is being enjoyed by Rahul Gandhi being son of super P.M. as MMS is 100% dummy,spineless & MAJBOOR person. Thus the than mighty powerful P.M.Mrs.Indira Gandhi was&is responsible for imposition of Emergency in 1975 & excesses therof .Few of the policies & programmes of Sanjay Gandhi were fantastic as he never believed the INC policies of impeasement of Muslim just for vote bank purposes.Sanjay was a true patriot,who worked & believed in the theory of ONE NATION-ONE LAW-ONE INDIA.
    The narration of Pranab Mukerjee reflects his desperate & yet another attempt to be P.M. even for a week but whole the Nation,Soniaji & Rahul knows that these CHAMCHAKHORI will not work as his intentions & contentions were never clear nor honest & babu mushaye must realise it at least on his last legs of life & in politics.SANJAY GANDHI SHOULD NOT BE BLAMED & DEFAMED by such chamchas.

  4. div Says:

    Gandhi family makes no mistakes or that is what the congi stooges think. Look at 2G or CWG scam now, people blame Manmohan Singh for that, Sonia controls everything and gets credits for good things like NREGA or RTI but the blame always goes on her pet puppet.

  5. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    I will express an unrelated yet significant wish: I hope Julian Assange takes it into his head to publish information about the wealth of the Gandhis and all other Indian politicians stored abroad. I also hope there will be a desi leaks offspring.

    Except for Kuldip Nayyar’s amateurish “The Judgment” and Ved Mehta’s elegant autopsy of Indira’s emergency rule in “The New India,” I don’t know of any detailed analysis of those dark days.

    Are we naive enough entertain the foolish notion that Indira perhaps was not responsible for inflicting emergency rule on us? Come on now, Churumuri. You have struck me speechless.

  6. prasad Says:

    The Congress leaders have always blamed the dead or thy kill them and put the blame on them to escape the reality. The living keep the loot. Probably the same fate awaits 2G Sonia and Rahul!

  7. twistleton Says:


    I’d give Pranab da ten years atleast. :)

    What’s done is done. Why are we so keen on pinning the blame on someone? Can’t we move on, ahead?

    It is to the Congress’s discredit that they are raking up old demons.

  8. Kelu Janamejaya Says:

    Ofcourse Indira Gandhi had no role to play in the emergency.

    Much like her first son had no role to play in the anti Sikh riots.

    Much like her first daughter in law had no role in letting go of her fellow country man scot free.

    How dare anyone has the guts to even raise this question?? When congress itself has found a very convenient scapegoat in the form of Sanjay Gandhi to blame for all the ills of the emergency, who are we, mere mortals, to question the high priestess??

  9. sarvagna Says:

    Sanjay would have changed this country and all Chaddis would have followed him.

  10. Narayana Says:

    Nobody played bigger role in emergency than the learned judges Chief Justice A.N. Ray, along with Justices M.H. Beg, Y.V. Chandrachud and P.N. Bhagwati. who in typical Indian fashion did not use their rationality instead showed more loyalty to the throne than the king himself!!

    Emergency was an Indian’s attempt at exploiting the feudal mentality that still exists in India.

    In fact nowhere in the history of modern countries, no other Court of any stature has gone on record concurring with then Attorney General’s view point that “Right to Life” can be suspended.

    Blaming it on one individual is continuation of that pattern of feudal thinking!!!

    What else can we expect from Chachawadis?

  11. Suraj Says:

    Damn!!! – Do we even need to ask this question?!!!

    Very reassuring to know Churumuri is still on Congressmuri Kool aid.

  12. boring journalist Says:

    It is a clear case of salvaging the badly damaged reputation of Mrs Indira Gandhi. Obviously it has backing of the ruling family of Congress.

  13. Sanjeeva Says:

    Much water has flown in all the rivers in India in all these 35 years. How relevant is the question and the answer to that in today’s India?! Almost everybody responsible for the emergency either directly or indirectly are now dead. What fruitful conclusions will be drawn from this useless, irrelevant debate?

  14. Ventripotent Says:

    Blog title is “Did Indira Gandhi have no role in the Emergency?” but poll title is about sanjay gandhi…clever

  15. twistleton Says:

    very true ventri :)

    the question-framer must be a lawyer or a journalist.

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