Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday concluded his three part-series on the 1975 Emergency titled 'The Emergency Revisited'.
In the third part of his blog, Jaitley writes how the 21-month-long Emergency turned out the pathbreaking moment of his political career. After being in jail for almost two years, Jaitley got the chance to address a rally organised by Janata Party and former Congress members Babu Jagjivan Ram, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and Nandini Satpathy who had formed Congress for Democracy. The rally was held at Ramleela Maidan. "As a student leader representing the face of youth of this alliance, I was asked to be the first warm-up speaker at the rally followed by some other leaders till Bahuguna and Jagjivan Ram spoke. Unquestionably this was the largest ever audience I have ever addressed," he wrote.
The rally only served to emphasise how the sentiment of the public had turned against the Congress, explained Jaitley. And after the rally, he got his first opportunity to participate in an election campaign. He travelled all over northern India, before going to Rajasthan and then travelling to Mumbai and Pune. "Almost everywhere, we could see a mass citizens participation in the campaign," he wrote.
Jaitley also described how the Congress's decision to hold snap polls in 1977 backfired against the party.
"Both Mrs Gandhi and Sanjay (Gandhi) lost their own seats (in Rae Bareli and Amethi)... In the entire north India and the Hindi heartland, the Congress could win one seat in Madhya Pradesh and one seat in Rajasthan. It lost all the seats of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Punjab etc. However, it managed to win some seats in the South where the atrocities of the Emergency were relatively less", he wrote.
Soon after the Emergency officially ended in 1977, fresh elections were called. Congress lost by a large margin, resulting in the Janata Party's Morarji Desai becoming the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.
Like the previous two posts, Jaitley in this third and final post lashed out the Indian national Congress for unleashing tyranny. "The Central Government turned dictatorial, the entire system caved in. The Supreme Court became subservient, the media became sycophantic", he wrote.
He also acknowledged the work done by the Morarji Desai led BJP government to undo a lot of damage done by the Congress Party during the Emergency period. "The power under Article 352 to impose an Emergency for internal disturbances was now restricted. Article 21 was made non-suspendable. The courts were given the power of judicial review of several detention orders. The 44th Constitution Amendment reversed most of the provisions of the 42nd Amendment. This was a major institutional safeguard", Jaitley recalled in his post.
He also credited the then BJP government for spearheading the evolution of technology that made the censorship of media impossible.
The Union Minister also took a dig at the left parties saying that CPI supported the Emergency, while the CPM did not take active part in the struggle against the draconian measure.
Jaitley also wondered how socialist followers of Ram Manohar Lohia will work with the Congress in the long run.
"India's Left parties have always been a puzzle to me. The CPI was an unashamed supporter of the Emergency. Its political line was that Emergency was a war on fascism.
"Though theoretically the CPI (M) was opposed to the Emergency and critical of it, it was not an active participant in the struggle against the Emergency. Only two of its MPs were arrested. Its Polit-bureau members, Central Committee members and students' leaders were, by and large, not put in detention," he wrote in his post.
Observing that the followers of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia and their post-Emergency evolution has shown a very curious trend, he said, "his (Lohia's) legacy was represented by George Fernandes, Madhu Limaye and Raj Narain, who were all consistently anti-Congress".
"Today that legacy has been inherited by Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh and substantially by Shri Nitish Kumar in Bihar. While the trace of anti-Congressism is visible in both, the party formed by Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav is always willing to do business with the Congress.
"I have always serious doubts whether those who represent the political DNA of Dr Lohia and Pt Nehru can in the long run ever work together," Jaitley said.
His statement assumes significance as several opposition parties, including Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, and others, are trying to build a coalition to fight BJP in general elections in 2019.
Jaitley also thanked both India TV Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma and Union Minister of State Vijay Goel for showing “exemplary courage” during the emergency period.
Jaitley's blog, spread over three days, marks the 43rd Anniversary of the imposition of Emergency in India. In the first part, he gave a background to the events that led to the Emergency such as the mismanagement of the economy, and the loss of political goodwill. The second part dealt wit the 'The tyranny of Emergency', wherein the Union Minister compared the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's policies with those implemented by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.