Indira Gandhi Interview | TV Eye | 1978

Mrs.. Gandhi can you imagine any circumstances in which you might once again become prime minister of India [I]? Can certainly imagine the circumstances, but the question is whether I want to be or whether I’ll agree to be or not? What would be the terms under which you would agree to [be] no, it’s not about such terms. [I] don’t want to be You [are] not in politics. You can’t make a very categorical answer I didn’t want to be in parliament, and I told everybody I wouldn’t stand But here I am What do you think the Indian people? Saw renewed they feel that you had a particular Sympathy for their cause what made you the figure that you are in in their eyes what I’ve done for them It’s what they’ve seen that. I’ve Done I Get they booted you out in 1977 Well, I think booted is a strong word We were defeated but within less [than] a month after the defeat they were coming back to me because there was such a Such a very sustained malicious propaganda that people were taken in by [it] When people like your own parliamentary spokesman described you as the woman to whom the gods have entrusted the destiny of India What’s your reaction? I haven’t even heard this phrase. I don’t know [how] was yours – do you do you regard that kind of phrases of Meaningless extravagance? Yes? and we in India there is most beaches are full of this if you see the You know [the] [addresses] [that] [are] presented to anybody not me anybody at all you [would] be full of [phrases] like phrases like this do you ever Feel [that] you have in any way abused the trust that the the Indian people have forgotten you certainly not I’d like obviously because that’s a question directed towards the state of emergency Which you declared in 1975 when you gave yourself very great powers And you explained if I’m right when you wrote to the president requiring the permission to to carry out the state of emergency Information has reached us which indicates that there is an imminent danger to the security of India? What was the precise nature of that danger? Well? You can’t say anything with great precision? But you talked to your people of a deep and widespread conspiracy which you were sure they were aware What conspiracy well it’s obvious isn’t it now the whole concept continent has been destabilized But this is also internal why people you were told no it was both It was supported from outside, but you required the the the special powers on the basis of internal upheaval No the question was had it been only internal with no foreign interference one could have dealt with it in a much easier way But it is not [you] didn’t do with [respect] and you didn’t mention No, why should one mentioned everything one doesn’t mention everything at any time? why should one can I [try] but it’s very obvious [when] people have followed the Doings of international agencies and who was present at India at what time and what is happening today is borne out Everything that we suspected earlier can I put to the the findings of the Shark Mission Just set up to inquire whether there are any cause to [take] you to court and have you condemned for excesses abuses of power in that report they quote on the basis for your Requiring this emergency. No evidence Whatsoever police reports home ministry reports your intelligence services had given you no Evidence, what sort of not true at all? What had they given you what did they told you precisely? It’s not about [him]. They’re telling me I’m prime minister I have the business to know and all reports do not come through police They come through other heads of other states and very many other agencies But they also had given those reports how the justice Matthew know for instance And many other people who spoke at that time this report is an entirely prejudice one-sided report They’ve completely ignored Whatever people had to say on the other side most of the people who have given evidence are government servants Whose whole Livelihood and future depends on what they said here? Do you notice bad Justice sure? He was after all a former Chief [justice] behind Supreme court judge who had expressed himself very strongly? Against me and my policies before being appointed what it said? He’d miss speeches against us recorded speeches against you well not me [personally], but against our policies, and he appeared against us when we maybe there was a in fact Parliament wanted to impeach him at one time did he not a lot of the realities that he found against you in the courts on One Occasion I don’t think Tonight, but he opposed bank nationalization very very strongly [too] and after that that he spoke He’s been speaking continuously against me [in] my garden, Mrs.. Gandhi was it mere? Coinciding that in any other country they would appoint or even nine in India They seldom been a case where somebody was known to be and he has been appointed to Inquire against that person in fact at the same time another judge was approached But because I had superseded him he refused to take up these things because he said that people would not think he was fair Mrs.. Gandhi was it mere coincidence that at the same time the allahabad high [court]? Had said that you could stay in office as prime minister provisionally But had found you guilty of Electoral malpractice and that therefore there was a serious risk that you would not be able to remain prime minister was that just a [coincidence] that just came in same range. It was not a coincidence [he] [was] absolutely sure that I mean now How does it help me to escape now? If I wanted to remain prime minister? All I had to do was to listen to the party buses they would not have wanted me out at all I would have been prime minister for life, but you wouldn’t holding office under the findings of the corner. Yes but on what issues and If you look at your own newspapers, they all said they were very trivial issues, Mrs.. Gandhi I must ask you did you not concoct a Threat to the survival of the state in order to ensure your own survival, okay? That’s a very rude question and it’s entirely baseless. [it’s] nothing at all to base it on well the Charr commission to which I must refer because it was a commission set up by the government It’s a judicial inquiry and he is an eminent judge says that says very clearly that that The reason for if I can get just exactly I just lied if I may you’ve said I’ve asked your real question I Didn’t know no you death [see] I would just like to say one thing about what is in the report if I may because what he says is that that that the [only] evidence he can find is the Allahabad judgment and on the basis of that [he] [says] thousands were detained and a series of totally illegal and unwarranted actions followed Involving Untold human Misery and suffering. That’s why I put the [question] I didn’t put it out of a desire to be rude to Mrs.. Gandhi is In a parliamentary democracy is a judge competent to override. What parliament has done the decision I took Was ratified by the cabinet and by the parliament it was not only accepted it was applauded by the entire nation Had we held the elections in 1976 we would have won hands down Now we did not hold the elections because the state of the economy was such at that time the political situation was [alright] But the state of the economy meant that we had at we could see that if we continued We by I don’t mean us as people But the policies we were pursuing if they continued we could give India a start sound and stable Had we held the elections then this would not have been possible therefore we jeopardized our political future and chose giving political stability to I mean economic stability and soundness to to India Rather than saying well let us be sure of our election. Why then was it necessary to IMprison Mr.. Murad You decide then became prime minister of India was he in the economic threat [-] no? They were they these were the people [who] were destroying democracy Destroying them destroying the straw democracy because well I’m sorry [that] [you] people have short memories, but Because they felt they could not win an election. They said we must take the battle [to] the streets Mr. Morarji Desai is on record in a interview having said we are going to surround The prime Minister’s house. We are [going] [to] surround parliament. We will see that No, business is done by that the prime minister cannot come out nobody can go in another member of the opposition now a minister said that if we cannot win by the ballot we shall win by the bullet somebody else Incited the police and the army that’s joking around Disobey illegal orders, he said why [couldn’t] you alien? Why could I just ask you why couldn’t you have used? The law that you already had available to you to arrest these people if they were breaking the law I’m afraid you see India is not a small country like the uk it is a very big country in very complex problems and In the whole country they had created an atmosphere of extreme [indiscipline] so that assembly like Mr.. Galbraith said it seems to be a functioning Anarchy, but it was not functioning. It was becoming an unfenced non functioning Anarchy and at that moment if we had not stopped it, India would not have survived. Yes Unfortunately the dealings of the present government are taking India along that path once again The only difference is [that] because we left a very sound economy that momentum is sustaining the government Why was it necessary to remove from every individual in India and in particular from the tens of thousands who were put in prison? Their right to go to court and and pro-and before their case [that] their their right indeed to know why they’ve been detained [why] did you remove those rights? Well? I would like to say with all respect that all this is happening today there is no emergency in India but 23,000 teachers who are non-political have been arrested for merely? Nonviolent peaceful demonstrations, but this I presume are that isn’t a justification sure what happened under you and under you no But you have to see that if some things are happening all the time It’s not necessarily that something happened in emergency if the police have indulged in excesses They have been doing so before during and now but this is a different case I’m bad, you know your home minister said at the time. I think rather neatly if perhaps cynically pinpointing the issue no fundamental rights He said have been taken away from any individual just their right to go to court to enforce their rights now That was under the special powers that you took that was but it will also be about abuse by minor officials we’re talking about state policy that is true, but it was [some] it was just for a very limited period and we have in what time a lot of political rights and civil rights are taken away from people and this for India was as serious as a war war period It was a death threat not very survival. Why was it necessary? Mrs., Gandhi to forbid newspapers to report the speeches of MPS. I Don’t know I think Censorship was not properly managed and the same initially we thought it would be for a very brief period And some code of conduct would be worked out that’s remarkable right would you say the purpose of pre censorship? This is government? regulations Is to guarantee certain safeties for the state all the chief censor must see everything that’s published and speeches of members of Parliament [must] not be published in any manner or form only speeches of ministers I mean was that necessary to defend India from color a short period Yes Because as I [said] the situation was [more] or less Going out of control and it was necessary there is which developing country has been able To go ahead it own only India has tried this experiment of having social and economic changes through peaceful and democratic means now when these means were threatened we took a temporary measure it was I who Revoked I declared the emergency, but also I [would] revoke immediately before the elections – yes, so later We said certainly but then I did hold the elections [bush] I don’t think there’s a single instance in world history of this happening the shark mission and [once] [no] I know how to change it. I have intended at all because since you’re talking about the press I would like to say something about the press here a news item came in That the judge who had given his [judgement] in my election case Died and it was very broadly hinted that. I had had him done away with When the high commissioner clarified the position that my judge is perfectly hale and hearty Living where he always lives and a judge of a similar name Has died of a heart much older man has died [of] a heart attack in another part of the country Your newspaper us did not have the grace even to print that contradiction that seems a curious curious grounds. I’m not Justified. I’m not yet removal of freedom. I’m sorry. I’m not justifying. I’m just showing what you don’t like the newspaper [no] I’m not I’m saying that the newspapers are a part of a Force which is there to obstruct the social and economic Changes which we want to bring about and do you try to [initiate] [or] force to support what we were doing? No, we are not interested in support, but we are interested so not having the obstruction the evidence Mrs. Gandhi shows that during that period for instance all [India] [India] radio during that period in one month December 76 had over 2,000 lines reporting government statements 34 lines Recording [Opposition’s] you’ll find exactly the same in all India radio today So this is just a frailty in any case of the freedom whether it is or not they don’t know but it’s no use picking out something out of Context this is what I’m trying to the shah commission said that the reasons for the measures taken against the media in General And the press in particular was to keep and this is on the basis of the evidence put to him was to keep the public in ignorance to instill fear in them thereby suppressing dissent in every form individual political Parliamentary judicial it was used as an instrument of news Management aimed at thought controls if you want to give a lecture in the shark commission. You needn’t have me here You can give it any way as other media are doing We do not accept the shah commission’s Report and the people of India do not accept they have shown that he is quite irrelevant his remarks and his findings to the situation which prevailed earlier and the Situation is prevailed during the emergency before the emergency or after how does Mr. Shah know what is happening in the political world? What are the forces at work which just? Want to destroy a developing economy? [is] it is a judge competent to decide that then why have democracy why have elections? Why have political people in power it was a commission of inquiry which lot of democracies? No, it was not it was [a] purely vindictive action by the present government It’s it’s very interesting that of the cases referred to the shah commission They have they did not want to inquire into any cases except those against me or those whom they considered my supporters? they did not even record the evidence or the The of those who said anything in my favor. He just said this is irrelevant in the courtroom itself They had a [picked] crowd with Giada’s Anybody who wanted to and we didn’t want cheering, but if anybody did that person was thrown out? I mean when you take up a thing you should try and find out the whole background and what has actually happened [I] went into us it doesn’t matter what the british media says it’s quite irrelevant to India but it shows that you [are] divorced from the facts and Divorced from what the people [are] thinking and if you don’t you if you’re not bothered about [what] the people are thinking then you shouldn’t? Talk about Democracy I certainly am bothered what people are [thinking] and of course one’s concerned to try and establish The basis on which they might or might not hold particular judgments And that’s why I’d like to ask you about the 20 months of your Special powers there were I want you to remind you I think some 8 million people who were sterilized more than 250 court night I was like this is not any of this [fart] figure has not been borne out by anybody in any commission There is evidence to suppose that very large numbers of people were sterilized right [by] your view over you well It’s been alleged that there was widespread compulsion if there was compulsion at all for the purposes of argument what be your reaction to Compulsory sterilization sterilizes [yes] myself in government statements as well as privately that I’m not for compulsion records from the time from the Chief secretary of the government of utter Pradesh government attached highest importance to achievement of family planning targets failure to achieve monthly Target will result in stoppage of salary suspension and Severus penalties other states all eligible cases for sterilization in my office and department have been sterilized persons who have refused to get themselves Sterilized have not been paid their salaries the evidence surely Mrs.. Gandhi [that] a combination of intimidation coercion Economic sanction not giving people licenses not doing people rights to free education and health and so on were used by officials throughout India to to Disappear in effect you have sterilization. Yes. They were those are major wide-scale excesses, then aren’t they no I don’t think so [and] Furthermore now people realize that if our population goes up at the rate that [it] [is] going Their children won’t be alive. They won’t have the they won’t have enough food or education or any of those rights Do you accept no responsibility? At all I have accepted own Responsibility because I happen to be head [of] the government, but you know there was nothing No You see you cannot be categorical about these things certainly mistakes when you take up any major program Mistakes will take place, but they were there was a very large force working against us Which was [determined] to use anything it could against us And they I think that they played a very large part in Creating these so-called excesses [a] lot of them seem to be in prison you had tens of thousands in prison with the endless more forces Against you trying to destroy him scandi the most of the people in Prison were smugglers Hoarders black Marketeers, not academic students teachers politicians no they were politicians but not many academics or students [know] the evidence unless they were in the naxalite movement or something like that Under what you have some you are accepting without question a particular evidence which has not yet gone [to] court which is sub judice [II] and Which we do not accept under what conditions now would you would you justify imposing a similar state of emergency? Would you do that if you were in charge in India now where you said is this this? Display [of] [some] terrible problem would you do it no, no? Because today’s Chaos is created by the government You had a different That’s quite a different situation as I said at [that] time as you said that had we taken action in what you think it says Legal earlier on maybe all this would not have been necessary And this is why I feel [that] I was at fault in this that I did not take action earlier on But we felt that in Elections were not far off, and we could wait till the elections. We didn’t know that these people would precipitate The situation as they we knew that in elections. We may or may not win You don’t [fight] another state of emergency in India no as I’m saying today. That is a state of emergency It is not legal it is not constitutional It doesn’t have parliamentary sanction, but in every other way there is a state of emergency [if] Justice, Mr. shah says that the people are in fear. [you] [are] only to go and walk the streets of delhi today Or calcutta or any city and where [is] that time written only those [who] were in fear who were doing something? anti-social but today it is the common citizen The poor man was in fear What then do you expect the future of India to be Mrs. Gandhi? For the future of India is for us to decide and we will fight it out in India I don’t think it’s anybody else’s business. you of course [assume] going back to face criminal charges on the basis of the shah commission’s allegations on the basis of that evidence I’m obliged to ask you why [would] it not serve the interests of truth and justice? justice for you to be found guilty Because I’m not guilty


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