Describing the 21-month-long Emergency as a 'dark period' that the nation could never forget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday 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.
"India remembers its 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.
The Prime Minister also hailed the spirit of those citizens who firmly opposed the Emergency that came into force on June 25, 1975, leading to the suspension of fundamental rights.
"I salute the courage of all those great women and men who steadfastly resisted the Emergency, which was imposed 43 years ago. Their struggles ensured people power prevailed over authoritarianism and the stifling of civil liberties. Media persons like the late Ramnath Goenka and the late C.R. Irani, and senior journalist Kuldip Nayar braved all odds and censorship to continue fighting for democracy, 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".
Modi said they did everything but cleverly remained within the limits of the Constitution, but years later the family never imagined that the courts would frame corruption charges against them and they would be enlarged on bail.
"So, now they tried to scare the highest echelons of the judiciary by bringing in an impeachment motion during Emergency, judges were abruptly transferred and their arrogant mentality remains unchanged even today," Modi said.
He said those who "crushed the Constitution and imprisoned Democracy cannot be trusted, but they are now alleging that "Modi will destroy the Constitution," but assured that "we are different.
"Despite ruling for 70 years, you never celebrated the Constitution. We started it in Parliament and right upto the school levels. We want to strengthen it even more," the PM said.
Besides PM Modi, many leaders at 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.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley in his Facebook post published on Tuesday also criticised the Congress rule for unleashing tyranny during the Emergency. Drawing parallel between Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Union Finance Minister said that both turned democracy into dictatorship.
The 1975 Emergency order gave the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the authority to rule by decree wherein civil liberties were curbed. During the 1975 Emergency, opposition leaders were arrested, elections postponed, anti-government protests crushed and press censored. Some laws were even rewritten to suit the government. Draconian laws like MISA were strengthened. The government suspended the right to move court for enforcement of Fundamental Rights. Also, an external Emergency was already in place even before the imposition of the internal one.
With the suspension of the fundamental rights, several citizens, journalists and politicians including opposition leaders like Vijayaraje Scindia, Jaiprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani were arrested without any trial.
Fresh elections were called after the Emergency officially ended. Congress lost by a large margin, resulting in the Janata Party's Morarji Desai becoming the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.