'40 Years On, Emergency Can't Be Forgotten,' Says PM Narendra Modi
NEW DELHI: Commenting on 40 years of the Emergency today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was one of the darkest periods in India and could not be forgotten.
"Nobody can forget June 25-26 when the nation was turned into a jail and bound with chains of Emergency for lust of power 40 years back," the prime minister said at a function to launch development schemes.
In tweets this morning, PM Modi targeted the Congress, which was in power at the time, and said: "Let us do everything possible to further strengthen our democratic ideals and ethos."
Describing a "vibrant, liberal democracy" as the key to progress, he posted: "We mark 40 years of one of India's darkest periods - the Emergency, when the then political leadership trampled over our democracy. "
The ruling BJP has given special attention to the anniversary of the 1975 Emergency, when several opposition leaders were jailed by the then Congress government led by Indira Gandhi, and severe restrictions were imposed on the media. PM Modi tweeted: "Personally, the Emergency brings back many memories. As youngsters, we learnt a lot during the anti-Emergency movement. Emergency was a great opportunity to work with a wide spectrum of leaders and organisations fighting for the same goal- return of democracy." He referred to socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, who rallied opposition forces against the government.
The prime minister's remarks come days after senior BJP leader LK Advani flagged fears of a "return of the Emergency" in an interview to the Indian Express newspaper.
"At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger," Mr Advani said, adding: "I do not say that the political leadership is not mature. But because of the shortcomings, I don't have the confidence that it (Emergency) cannot happen again... A commitment to democracy and to all other aspects related to democracy is lacking."
The remarks were seized by rival parties who called them a swipe at PM Modi.