Salman Khurshid's bizarre defense of the Emergency
Voices Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 05:30
Salman Khursheed in a music video produced by German Embassy in 2015 A certain newsitem in today's newspaper captured my attention. Salman Khurshid, India's former External Affairs Minister has declared in Hyderabad that the opposition parties in 1975 should carry the major blame for the Emergency for creating an atmosphere that it became necessary for Indira Gandhi to take the step. This by itself was not new. Apologists of the darkest chapter in independent India's history have persisted in voicing very similar sentiments. I distinctly recall the sycophantic Vasant Sathe coming up with this perniciously spurious logic in 2000. The most prominent apologist from the Fourth Estate. Khushwant Singh, maintained till his dying day that Emergency was justified and the complaints of excesses were grossly exaggerated. And the most visible symbol of Emergency alive today, R.K.Dhawan, who was recently granted an hour long interview with Karan Thapar (which he did not deserve) made a stout but intellectually vacuous defence of the 20 month era when the whole country was converted into the largest concentration camp the modern world has ever known. What is new in Khurshid's utterance is what he said next. According to him, the country had re-elected Congress (I) hence there was no case for any of its member to answer. I found this assertion perniciously surreal. More surprising was the fact that no one asked Khurshid whether he would apply the same logic to the Bharatiya Janata Party's election victories post 1992 when the Babari Mosque was brought down .Or perhaps whether this contention was applicable in Modi's case post 2001 when he was re-elected twice after the riots. Salman Khurshid has the reputation of being a legal eagle having studied law at Oxford (he was there roughly the same period as I was). It is all the more inexplicable that a legal man who wears his legal credentials up his sleeve seems not to appreciate that the legal culpability of an individual is not decided by electoral succeses. I must admit I am completely aghast. And at least on this count, I would say Manmohan Sigh displayed greater sense and sensitivity when he offered a apology for the Congress (I) role in 1984 carnage. He could just as well claimed that subsequent electoral successes of Congress (I) absolved it from any guilt for its complicity. While Khurshid's logic (or absence of it) deserves to be treated with contempt and derision, I am tempted to view this as a wider tendency among the Congress seniors to somehow downplay the atrocities of that period. During the last presidential elections, in an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai, Pranab Mukherjee made a very uncharacteristically gauche defense of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed claiming that he had acted 'honourably' while signing the Emergency proclamation. Later on in an interview with a Swedish daily, Mukherjee, now the head of Indian state, went on to defend the Bofors scam. The Bharatiya Janata Party is not going to be in power forever. If the Congress wishes the populace to view it as a government in waiting (which it is definitely not seen now) it has to learn to face its demons and come to terms with it.