Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has hit out at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre for using the Emergency as a tactic to ‘divert’ from real issues like NEET paper leaks, the situation in Manipur and unemployment. Tharoor, the fourth-term Congress Member of Parliament (MP) from Thiruvananthapuram, asked why it was relevant to ‘dregde up’ something that happened 49 years ago. 

The former Union Minister also said while the imposition of Emergency in 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi may have been ‘undemocratic,’ it was strictly ‘within the boundaries of the Constitution.’

“I am a critic of the Emergency… but the very fact is that the Emergency may have been undemocratic, but it was not unconstitutional. It was a provision in the Constitution that permitted the imposition of an internal emergency. That provision has since been removed since but it was there at that time,” Tharoor told NDTV in an interview.

Tharoor was referring to resolution read out by the by newly elected Speaker Om Birla in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday condemning the imposition of Emergency in 1975. Birla also called that it was a direct attack to the Constitution by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a remark that invited criticism from Opposition Congress.

President Droupadi Murmu, in her address to Parliament on Thursday, also dubbed the Emergency “the biggest and darkest chapter of direct attack on the Constitution,” a reference that also raised the hackles of the Congress party. Tharoor said calling Emergency ‘unconstitutional’ was not accurate in legal terms.

“Whatever the government did in 1975 was strictly within the boundaries of the Constitution. So for the Rashtrapati to say it was an unconstitutional attack or an attack on the Constitution is actually inaccurate in legal terms,” Tharoor said, adding that the Constitution was not suspended during those months.

“I am not saying this is something to be proud of… But I am just challenging the claim that it was unconstitutional. It was not. It was completely within the Constitution, however undesirable..,” the Congress leader said.