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Union Minister RK Singh posted this photograph on Twitter calling Emergency as “the darkest in the history of the nation”. (Photo: Twitter/RajKSinghIndia)

Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday compared former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to a German politician Adolf Hitler, stating that both the leaders used the Constitution “to transform democracy into dictatorship”.

With the professed aim to control “internal disturbance”, on June 25, 1975, PM Indira Gandhi imposed a state of Emergency and arrested many opposition leaders. It continued for 21 months till March 21, 1977.

Arun Jaitley in his second blog of the three-part series of an article ‘The Emergency Revisited,’ said, “unlike Hitler, Gandhi went a step ahead by endeavoring to transform India into “dynastic democracy”. Both Hitler and Mrs. Gandhi never abrogated the Constitution. They used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into a dictatorship,” he wrote.

On his Facebook post, the minister wondered whether the script of Emergency, which was imposed more than 4 decades ago on June 25, 1975, was inspired by what had happened in Nazi Germany in 1933.

“Both Hitler and Gandhi never abrogated the Constitution. They used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into a dictatorship,” he said.  The BJP leader said Gandhi imposed Emergency under Article 352, suspended fundamental rights under Article 359 and claimed that disorder was planned by the opposition.

Jaitley said Hitler, who became the German Chancellor on January 30, 1933, got his President to invoke Article 48 of the country’s Constitution which gave emergency powers for the “protection of people in the State”.

“The decree giving emergency powers put restrictions on personal liberty, free speech… The pretext for the imposition of Emergency was that on February 27, 1933, German Parliament House, known as ‘Reichstag’, had been set on fire.  “Hitler claimed that it was a communist conspiracy to burn Government buildings and museums. Thirteen years later, in the Nuremberg trials, it was established that Reichstag fire was the handiwork of Nazis and Goebbels had conceived it.” He said Hitler arrested most opposition MPs.

“Indira Gandhi arrested most opposition MPs and, therefore, procured, through their absence, a two-thirds majority of members present and voting and enabling the passage of several obnoxious provisions through Constitution amendments,” Jaitley said.  The BJP leader said the 42nd Amendment diluted the power of High Courts to issue writ petitions, “a power which Dr. (B.R.) Ambedkar had said was the very heart and soul of India’s Constitution”.

“She prohibited the publication of Parliamentary proceeding in the media. The law which gave a mandate to the media for publishing Parliamentary proceedings was popularly known as the Feroze Gandhi Bill,” he said.

Since Hitler’s own election has been set aside, he had no change to make in this regard. “Gandhi amended both the Constitution and the Representation of People Act. The Constitution amendment made the election of the Prime Minister non-justifiable before a court.

Like Hitler, Gandhi arrested most opposition members of Parliament, and therefore procured, through their absence, a two-thirds majority of members present and voting and enabling the passage of several obnoxious provisions through Constitution amendments, he said.

“The 42nd amendment to the Constitution diluted the power of high courts to issue writ petitions, a power which Dr. Ambedkar had said was the very heart and soul of India’s Constitution. They also amended Article 368 so that a Constitution amendment was beyond judicial review,” he added.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma hit back and termed the as “absurd, outrageous and a distortion of history”. “Indira Gandhi was the tallest leader of her times, democratically elected popular Prime Minister. Arun Jaitley’s comparison of Indira ji with Hitler is absurd, outrageous and a distortion of history,” Sharma tweeted.

“Arun Jaitley is suffering from selective loss of memory. Dictators do not hold elections. Let BJP be reminded that Indira Gandhi lifted emergency to hold free and fair elections. She herself lost and she accepted defeat, and the verdict, with humility. ”

“People of India will remember her as a hero,” Anand Sharma wrote.

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