Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday said the 1975-77 Emergency was a “dark period” that the nation could never forget and called for making democracy stronger by “writing, debating, deliberating, and questioning” its vital aspects and pledged his full commitment to protecting the Indian Constitution and Democracy.
Simultaneously, he took the opportunity attack the Congress Party and its leaders – taking care not to name any members of the Gandhi-Nehru family – saying the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was not observing a ‘Black Day’ merely to criticise the Congress, but to make the modern youth aware of what happened during Emergency.
“India remembers it as a dark period when every institution was subverted and an atmosphere of fear was created. Not only people but also ideas and artistic freedom were held hostage to power politics. The youth have no idea what happened then and they cannot imagine how living without freedom can be,” Modi said.
Interestingly, Modi’s comments came in Mumbai where the Indian National Congress (INC) was founded on December 28, 1885, 132 years ago by a group of nationalists to launch the country’s freedom struggle against the British Empire.
It also came a day after union minister Arun Jaitley called the then Prime Minister, the late Indira Gandhi as ‘Hitler’ – and in Mumbai, where BJP ally and Shiv Sena’s ex-Mayor Snehal Ambekar had compared Modi with the German dictator, leading to a massive political furore exactly three years ago.
Addressing a meeting at the Birla Matoshri Auditorium, Modi hailed the spirit of those citizens who firmly opposed the Emergency that came into force on June 25, 1975, leading to suspension of the fundamental rights.
“Whenever the Congress – and especially this one family – apprehends losing power, they start shouting and raise the bogey that the country and democracy are in danger and there is an atmosphere of fear, and they alone can save it,” Modi said.
He accused the (Gandhi) family of breaking the INC – built by the efforts of Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders – “in their lust for power”, and how it subverted all democratic institutions including the Constitution, the parliament, the elections, the judiciary and the media, “for the benefit of one family”.