Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday compared former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with former German dictator Adolf Hitler, and said both used “a republican Constitution to transform democracy into dictatorship”. Monday marked the 43rd anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency by Indira Gandhi’s government.

“During Emergency an atmosphere of fear and terror prevailed in the country,” Jaitley said in the second article of a three-part series on Emergency. “Political activity had come to a grinding halt. The dissenters were mainly political workers of the opposition party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. They kept repeatedly organising satyagrahas and courted arrest.”

In the first part on Sunday, Jaitley had written about the circumstances that led to the imposition of Emergency in 1975, saying Indira Gandhi thought she was indispensable to the country and sought to crush all contrarian voices.

Gandhi used constitutional provisions “to turn democracy into a constitutional dictatorship”, Jaitley wrote.

India was already in a declared stage of emergency since the war with Pakistan in 1971 and there was no need to declare a second Emergency. But Gandhi was advised that the second proclamation of emergency was required to quell internal disturbances, he wrote.

Jaitley added that it was tragic that Indira Gandhi preferred popular slogans over sound and sustainable policies. “The government, with a huge electoral mandate at the Centre and the states, continued in the same economic directions which she had experimented in the late 1960’s,” Jaitley wrote. “She nationalised insurance and coal mine business. She botched up the nationalisation of wheat trade [subsequently reversed] to tackle the unmanageable inflation. It led to greater inflation. This led to social and trade union unrest where large number of man-days were lost.”

The minister pointed out that inflation in 1974 touched a staggering 20.2% and reached 25.2% in 1975. “Labour laws were made more stringent and these led to a near economic collapse,” Jaitley said. “There was large-scale unemployment and unprecedented price rise.”

Jaitley also wrote about how the government targeted the press. “One way of controlling the media was to pinch the pocket of the media,” he said. “The government therefore passed an order putting restrictions on the number of advertisements that a newspaper could carry.” The Supreme Court, however, struck down the government’s move, he added.