Threat was real but Emergency a wrong answer: P Chidambaram

The former Union minister said there can be no comparison between the Congress’s revival after the party lost power post-Emergency and now when it faces a “formidable political machinery called the RSS”

Written by Anand Mishra | New Delhi | Published: July 8, 2017 2:58 am
P Chidambaram, Chidambaram emergency, emergency period, congress news, india news, latest news, indian express Former Union Minister P Chidambaram. (File Photo)

There was a real “threat to the law and order” situation around the time Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency, and “if no action was taken, it could have escalated”, but it was a “wrong answer” to that threat, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Friday.

The former Union minister said there can be no comparison between the Congress’s revival after the party lost power post-Emergency and now when it faces a “formidable political machinery called the RSS”.

Blaming the party’s state of affairs on a weak organisational apparatus, he said, “In 10 years we were in power, we neglected the organisation. The party machinery was neglected by PCC (state Congress) chiefs, district chiefs.”

Asked whether Indira Gandhi clamped Emergency to protect her authority or there was any real threat to the country’s security after Jayaprakash Narayan called for total revolution in 1974, the Congress leader said, “I can say that Emergency was a wrong answer. The threat was real. The answer was wrong. Perhaps a more secure Indira Gandhi may have found a better answer — she was advised that this is the way to handle the situation, and it can be retrieved after a few months.”

But, he said, “it turned out to be a monster — a genie out of the bottle. It went completely out of control, especially in north India”.

Chidambaram was speaking at the launch of Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister, written by senior journalist Sagarika Ghose. Former Union minister Arun Shourie also took part in the discussion moderated by Karan Thapar.

Asked about frequent assertions by many Congress leaders that there is an “Emergency-like situation” in the country at present, Chidambaram said it is no longer possible to declare Emergency, as was done in 1975, since the Constitution stands amended now. “But there are aspects of 1975 to 1977 — the muzzling of press, intimidation of intellectuals and writers, the use of agencies not only against politicians (but also against) ordinary citizens (and) entities, especially NGOs; and above all the attempt to stifle dissent.”

About the present state of the Congress, Chidambaram rejected the notion of any leadership crisis and said, “Indira Gandhi was actually fighting largely ex-Congressmen and a group of very tired socialists…. Today, the Congress is fighting a powerful political machinery called RSS.”

Shourie spoke of the “fear” in people’s minds in the face of mobs. “Mussolini’s goons were nothing without the state, but with the state they were everything.”

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  1. M
    Jul 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm
    It is like the devil quoting the scriptures.The massive corruption indulged by congress allies in the past decade will never allow congress to come back.Arun shouri joining this band is really interesting.
    1. S
      Jul 8, 2017 at 12:07 pm
      P Chidambaram and other slaves of the Gandhi family can bend backwards as much they can to explain the introduction of emergeny by Indra Gandhi, the fact remains that she did this to save herself to stay in power. Congress at that time and congress now do not believe in democratic traditions and is becoming increased anti national, too.
      1. M
        Jul 8, 2017 at 11:43 am
        Clamping of Emergency was right or wrong in political terms I do not comment but it showed the country and society how a government could function. That was the golden perid where the functioning of the government(s) was seen. The common man in the society was not affected at all in any manner. On the other hand he enjoyed that period and got great relief of government machinery functioning effectively.
        1. Roby Mani
          Jul 8, 2017 at 1:15 pm
          I agree with what you say. A sort of discipline was prevalent in Government offices and in most other walks of life at taht time, which until then was totally lax. However some excesses may have been witnessed, but that is nothing compared to what we are seeing today even without emergency, the public lynching in the name of cow rakshaks, causing internal strive in opposition ruled states like West Bengal by creating communal riots etc etc.
        2. C
          Jul 8, 2017 at 10:24 am
          Nobody betrayed a section of public spirited Indians as cynically as Arun Shourie. I am ashamed at myself.The other day he was eloquent on Venkiah Naidus writing ability. Sagarika Ghose must be a solid columnist ( !!!) for him. deafening fall
          1. Venkataraman Jagadesan
            Jul 8, 2017 at 10:22 am
            Has he become suddenly wise or is he fighting for his survival since plethora of court cases which are likely to be initiated against him and his son are in the offing . He had ample opportunity to develop the TN congress but why did he not do? Well for him that a Minister in the Central will be more beneficial rather than a CM of a state. So let us not believe him and his sweet words. Jai HInd.
            1. C
              Jul 8, 2017 at 3:37 pm
              There is (1) one CONGRESS PLANTED TROJAN HORSE in the Modi cabinet, (2) a dozen bureaucrat dog()s who are still loyal to Chidambaram in the Finance Ministry and (3) almost 60 percent the Judges of our HCs and SC are appointees of the corrupt UPA Mafia. Till Modi Government identifies all the above BLACK SHEEP and removes them, nobody can even charge sheet Chidambaram.
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