An all-out war of words broke out between the BJP and Congress on the 43rd anniversary of the 1975 Emergency on Tuesday.
BJP observed the day as 'Black Day' and held press conferences all across the country to highlight how the 21-month-long period was the darkest period of independent India.
Leading in the charge in Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday described the Emergency as a 'dark period' that the nation could never forget and called for making the democracy stronger by 'writing, debating, deliberating, and questioning' its vital aspects. PM Modi also pledged his full commitment to protecting the Indian Constitution and Democracy.
Speaking at an event organised by the Maharashtra BJP on the occasion of 43rd anniversary of Emergency, the PM came down hard on the Congress slamming the 'first family' for pushing the country into a 'dark age' for personal gains. He took the opportunity to attack the Congress Party and its leaders, saying that the BJP was not observing a 'Black Day' merely to criticise the Congress, but to make the modern youth aware of what happened during the Emergency.
In a fusillade against the main opposition party, a combative Modi launched a no-holds-barred attack on the Congress and the (Gandhi) Parivar (family). In an apparent bid to deflate the Opposition's charge that his government was imposing an "undeclared Emergency" in the country, Modi said there was no difference in the "psyche" of the Congress during Emergency and now.
The Constitution was misused "for one family" while imposing the Emergency, Modi said. The entire country was turned into a jail for selfish personal interest of that family," he added.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that the Congress' DNA supports the draconian measure as he accused the party of "threatening" the Supreme Court with its recent actions, including a move to impeach the chief justice. The Congress' image, identity continue to be guided by Emergency, he said.
Paying homage to those who had opposed the draconian measure for protecting the democratic principles, Union Minister Smriti Irani said that the country faced Emergency forty three years ago 'just for one family'.
"Lakhs of people in the country lost their constitutional and fundamental rights for no fault of theirs. False cases were made against two lakh people. The internal emergency was imposed just for one family," she said in a veiled attack on the Gandhi family.
The BJP top leadership has often made references to the Emergency while taking a dig at the Congress party.
BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday lashed out at the Congress party for imposing the Emergency back in 1975. In a series of tweets Amit Shah said that on this day, democracy was murdered by the Congress party merely to maintain power.
The Congress was soon to hit back, likening Modi to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and alleging that he has imposed "undeclared Emergency".
The Congress equated Modi with Aurangzeb and alleged that he was even crueler than the Mughal emperor and "enslaved democracy" in the country for the past 49 months with an undeclared Emergency.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Modi was launching an attack on the Congress only to hide his own failures and the "false" promises and "jumlas" he had made to the public before coming to power.
He alleged that an atmosphere of fear was being created in the country to suppress dissent with those opposing them dubbed as "anti-national" and that an "undeclared emergency" was imposed in the country under Modi.
"Delhi Sultanate's 'dictator' Modi, who is even crueler than Aurangzeb, today gave lessons to the country on the Emergency imposed 43 years ago. By taking out his anger on the Congress, can a lid be put on Modiji's 'jumlas'?
"Today's Aurangzeb has enslaved democracy in the country including in his own party, the BJP. Modiji while trying to put a lid on his own failures is taking revenge with history today, but he has forgotten that he himself will become history soon," he told reporters.
Surjewala said, "Aurangzeb never took lessons from anybody... Dictators don't take lessons, only history teaches them lessons and I am sure Modiji will also have the same fate."
BSP president Mayawati echoed the Congress' views saying the country has been under an "undeclared emergency" for the last four years while CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury accused the BJP of distorting history and trained guns at its ideological mentor RSS.
In his tweets, Yechury has lashed out at Jaitley reminding him that though the BJP "distorts history" but "heroic sacrifice" of the CPI(M) workers during the Emergency are well documented.
"Distorting history is their occupation. History has recorded CPI(M) martyrs and heroic sacrifices in this struggle for the restoration of Democracy. History also records two servile letters of the RSS chief pledging support to Indira Gandhi's 20 point programme & pleading release (sic)," the CPI(M) leader tweeted.
Earlier in his final part of the blog series titled 'The Emergency Revisited', Union Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley slammed the CPI(M) and said that India's Left parties have always been a puzzle to him.
The CPI was an "unashamed supporter" of the Emergency and Its political line was that Emergency was a war on fascism, he said. "Though theoretically the CPI (M) was opposed to the Emergency and critical of it, it was not an active participant in the struggle against the Emergency," he wrote in his post.