Can Sanjay Gandhi take credit for Maruti?
Emergency's villain Sanjay Gandhi has been "fondly remembered" by the Congress party as a"visionary leader and an advocate of the poor." The party has officially said that Sanjay "championed the need for affordable cars in India."
Historian Ramachandra Guha, however, has countered the picture painted by the party. Sanjay Gandhi’s much-hailed Maruti car project was actually a flop. "It was a dud, a waste of taxpayers' money that could not produce a single roadworthy car. The Maruti Suzuki collaboration happened after his death; it is absurd to link Sanjay in anyway to this company’s later success,' he has noted.
What went into the failed project was a scandal. "Sanjay Gandhi went abroad to do an internship with Rolls-Royce because he loved cars. Before completing his internship, Sanjay returned to India in 1968. All rules were broken in setting up Maruti. In the end, however, the car couldn’t become a reality. Instead, the project faced allegations of corruption and nepotism, land grab and cronyism," says columnist Shivam Vij.