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Indira got ‘unlimited’ power,Sanjay was ‘arbitrary’: Cong book

Sanjay Gandhi’s arbitrary and authoritarian manner.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
December 29, 2010 3:03:02 am

In a candid admission of how Sanjay Gandhi’s “arbitrary and authoritarian manner” had annoyed the people during Emergency,a book brought out by the ruling Congress has stated that the then government led by Indira Gandhi had decided to pursue family planning due to her younger son’s initiatives.

“Unlimited state and party power was concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister,” says the book Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation while referring to the Emergency period,which had seen the suspension of fundamental rights,enforcement of press censorship,arrest of political leaders and other suppressive measures. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is the chief editor of the two-volume book that was released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the recent plenary session of the party.

Noting that Sanjay Gandhi had by then emerged as a leader of “great significance”,it said it was due to his support to family planning initiative that the government decided to pursue it “more vigorously”. “He also promoted slum clearance,anti-dowry measures and promotion of literacy but in an arbitrary and authoritarian manner much to the annoyance of the popular opinion,” the book says.

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”.

On “Rajiv years”,the book says in his anxiety to make quick changes,he “shuffled and reshuffled” his team both in the party and the government frequently. “The promises of reform in the party which he made in his famous Bombay speech as a corollary to attack ‘power brokers’ in the party,could not be fulfilled. Party elections,long overdue,were put off again and again,” notes the book.

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