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From Indira to Manmohan Singh: When ex-PMs brought embarrassment to Congress


Congress is on sticky wickets yet again. Former Prime Minister Manmohan singh, known for his integrity and honesty helped Congress led UPA to attain power in two consecutive terms, is in the dock for his alleged role in the coal scam. On Wednesday he was summoned by Patiala House Court for offences of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Cong PMs who faced court proceedings

Meanwhile, Congress leaders are crying foul saying that Singh is being implicated despite CBI had told the court that there was no criminality involved in the allocation of Talabira Coal Blocks-II to Aditya Birla group's Hindalco in Odisha, 2005 when Singh held the portfolio of coal ministry.

Showing solidarity with the leader, Congress leadership including Sonia Gandhi thronged the streets of Delhi on Thursday. Attacking the NDA government for maintaining "studied silence", party termed the episode as "outrageous".

Earlier, Manmohan Singh said that he will prove his innocence in a fair trial and truth will come out soon. "This is part of life. I have always said I am open for legal scrutiny... I am sure the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with all the facts," agonised Singh said when prodded about the issue.

But this is not the first time when the grand-old-party's Prime Minister had to go through court proceedings. This wrangling with judiciary is not new for the dynasty party. In the past, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and political guru of Manmohan Singh Narshimbha Rao had to experience the same torment.

Here are the details about charges former Congress Prime Ministers faced.

Indira Gandhi and Emergency Days

She was the first Prime Minister of India who had to face this tough moment. In 1977, Gandhi had to appear in Allahabad High Court on a petition filed by a socialist leader named Raj Narain. Narain had accused Gandhi of corrupt electoral practices in Lok Sabha election (He had contested 1977 election against Gandhi as an SSP Candidate). Court on 12 June 1975 upheld the accusations and set aside the election of Indira Gandhi. Court also disqualified her to contest Lok Sabha election for next 6 years. Though, Supreme Court stayed the order but miffed Gandhi imposed emergency in the country. Indira Gandhi is still being hated for those emergency days which are termed as 'darkest days' in Indian democracy.

Rajiv Gandhi faced ignominy in Bofors scandal

Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi, also had honest, corruption-free image till Bofors scandal cropped up in 1987. Rajiv's name emerging in the scandal resulted in a major defeat for his party in the 1989 general elections. The scandal which still haunts the party pertained to an illegal kickback paid in a US $1.3 billion deal between the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors with the Government of India for the sale of 410 field howitzer guns, and a supply contract almost twice that amount.

The CBI filed chargesheet in the case nine years after Gandhi's assassination in 1991. The investigating agency in 1997 had made Rajiv Gandhi as one of the several accused in the most notorious scandal in Indian history, though Gandhi didn't face trial as he was already dead by then.

JMM Bribery case a black spot over 'impeccable' political career of Narasimha Rao

Like Manmohan Singh, his political Guru Rao also faced judicial hurdle after his term got over in 1996. The maverick politician Narasimha Rao known for starting economic reform in ninties faced major embarrasment in 2000 when he was convicted in the bribery case. It was alleged that Rao along with Cabinet colleague Buta Singh offered millions of rupees to members of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) to vote for him during the confidence motion.

Shailendra Mahato, one of those members who had accepted the bribe, turned approver in the case which hit the headlines in 1993. After Rao's term in office came to an end in 1996, investigations began and finally he along with Buta Singh was convicted.

Both were sentenced to three years in prison for involving themselves in corrupt practises. In 2002, after Rao appealed against trail court verdict the Delhi High Court overturned lower court's decision. Both Rao and Buta Singh were cleared of the charges by the court due to the doubt in credibility of Mahato's statements.

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