This refers to President Pranab Mukherjee’s description of Indira Gandhi as the “most acceptable” Prime Minister democratic India has had. It was surprising that on the eve of ending his presidential tenure, Mukherjee has made a clearly controversial claim. One can understand that the former Congress leader, who was appointed to the nation’s top office by his party in 2012, was glorifying Indira Gandhi on the occasion of the release of a book, India’s Indira – A Centennial Tribute, but his description of Indira Gandhi seemed a bit far-fetched and untruthful.
Undoubtedly, Indira Gandhi was a great leader who proved firm and decisive at the time of the India-Pakistan war that resulted in the birth of Bangladesh. But at the same time, within four years, she imposed the ruthless Emergency, suppressing dissent and jailing thousands of her opponents. This was the darkest chapter in our post-independence history.
The press was muzzled. How can a fair-minded, honest observer of the Indian scene ignore such a monumental and horrible event which continued for 19 months? Even a small, sad reference to the dictatorial imposition would have redeemed President Mukherjee’s approach as a an objective and bold commentator.
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© 2016 State Times Daily Newspaper