Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the 21-month long emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from 1975 to 77 was a "mistake". Gandhi acknowledged what happened during the emergency was wrong but was different from the current situation since Congress never tried to capture India's institutional framework.
"I think that was a mistake. Absolutely, that was a mistake. And my grandmother (Indira Gandhi) said as much," Gandhi said in his interaction with Cornell University professor Kaushik Basu. Gandhi added, "The Congress party at no point attempted to capture India's institutional framework and frankly, the Congress party does not even have that capability. Our design does not allow that and even if we want, we cannot do it."
Gandhi had termed the Emergency a mistake during an interview during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections too. Indira Gandhi had also apologised for the gross human rights violations during the Emergency period on January 24, 1978 at a rally in Maharashtra.
The former Congress president further alleged the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of doing something "fundamentally different" and appointing their people in country's institutions. He also talked about a conversation he had with the Congress stalwart and former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath before his government was overthrown. Nath had said senior bureaucrats in the state government would not listen to him due to their RSS links.
"Modern democracies function because there is an institutional balance in the country's institutions that operate independently. That independence is being attacked in India. There is one big mother institution called the RSS that is penetrating all institutions. There is not a single one that is not under attack and it is done systemically," Rahul Gandhi alleged.
"The judiciary, the press, the bureaucracy, the Election Commission, every institution is systemically being filled by the people who have a particular ideology and belong to a certain institution," he further stated.
Gandhi added he was "literally crucified" for holding elections in the Youth Congress and the student organisation. He also attacked other political parties like BJP, BSP and the Samajwadi Party and questioned the lack of criticism of these parties over no internal democracy. He added, "But they ask about Congress because there is a reason. We are an ideological party and our ideology is the ideology of the Constitution, so it is more important for us to be democratic."