Congress denies book on its history demeans Sanjay Gandhi

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Congress Wednesday denied reports that a new book on its 125-year history blames the excesses during the Emergency on its late leader Sanjay Gandhi, saying then prime minister Indira Gandhi had herself expressed regret over some actions taken during the period.

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said news items had appeared about the book, Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation, stating that the party had tried to demean Sanjay Gandhi.

A number of news items have appeared projecting as if Congress was trying to demean Sanjay Gandhi. It is not true. In that book it is also mentioned that he (Sanjay Gandhi) was a leader of eminence and prominence, Ahmed said.

He said the book mentions some acts during the Emergency for which (the then) leader of Congress Indira Gandhi had herself offered regrets.

Ahmed said that the book, whose chief editor is senior party leader Pranab Mukherjee, has been written by historians and such a work cannot only have goody goody things.

It should be looked at from that perspective, he said.

Ahmed denied that the book draws a parallel between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi.

He said it was natural for any Indian to seek inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, adding that Sonia Gandhi sacrificing the prime minister’s post inspires bigger comparison”.

The book, which is a brief history of the Congress, is in two volumes.

The main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday accused the Congress of not owning up to the Emergency excesses and said it was trying to blame an individual for them. It also faulted the book’s portrayal of the anti-government struggle under Jayaprakash Narayan in the 1970s.

BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain did not directly mention Sanjay Gandhi, who is mentioned in the book as having taken various measures in an “arbitrary and authoritarian” manner, but said the Congress always tries to escape from its responsibilities by blaming an individual.

Sanjay Gandhi, who was Indira Gandhi’s younger son, died in an air crash in 1980. His wife Maneka Gandhi is now a BJP MP.

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