Calling the Emergency, imposed by the then Indira Gandhi led Congress government in 1975, as the “biggest blow to democracy” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that its memories should be kept alive to draw lessons to further strengthen democratic values.
“The kind of crisis that hit the country during that period had tempered the Indian democracy which came out stronger. I am grateful to those who struggled and fought against it. ...Emergency should be remembered not to brood over what had happened then, but to strengthen our resolve to fortify and further strengthen the democratic values and framework in our country,” Modi said.
The PM was speaking at a function in Vigyan Bhawan to commemorate the 113th birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan, socialist ideologue and leader of the anti-Emergency movement and felicitate those who took part in the JP movement that fought against emergency and were incarcerated in 1975-76. The programme was also attended by BJP patriarch LK Advani.
Fourteen persons were felicitated include Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, Gujarat governor OP Kohli, Chattisgarh governor Balramdas Tandon, Karnataka governor Vajhubhai Vala, former Lok Sabha deputy speaker Kariya Munda, former Delhi chief minister V K Malhotra, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy among others. The PM also felicitated Advani and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal.
Paying tributes to JP Narayan, the PM compared him to a “light house” and said that a new political generation was born during the Emergency that was fully dedicated to democratic values, inspired by JP.
“The biggest message that came out of the anti-Emergency struggle was the inspiration to fight repression. So many people in politics today owe their initial days to those days of Emergency, JP movement, Navnirman movement ... they gave birth to a new kind of politics in the nation,” the PM said.
Recollecting the Emergency period, Advani said that is our collective duty to ensure that democracy and fundamental freedoms of citizens of India will never again be infringed. “We need to promote the values of tolerance, consensus building and cooperation transcending political, ideological and social differences in all walks of life including in politics and governance.”
The BJP patriarch also called for “eternal vigilance” against any attempt by anybody to assault these values. “As our president Pranab Mukherjee said a few days ago, tolerance and diversity are the core values of Indian civilization. These values must be safeguarded,” he said.
Earlier, the PM also visited the residences of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee and former NDA convenor George Fernandes who had played a significant role in the anti –Emergency movement.