Terming Emergency as the biggest blow to democracy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said its memories should be kept alive to further fortify the democratic structure as the struggle against it gave birth to a new generation of leaders and a new kind of politics in the country.
“Emergency was the biggest blow to democracy. 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 cry or brood over what had happened then, but to strenghten our resolve to fortify and further strengthen the democratic values and framework in our country,” Modi said at a programme ‘Loktantra Prahari Abhinandan’ to mark Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan’s 113th birth anniversary.
Paying glowing tributes to the Loknayak, he felicitated many of those who fought against Emergency and went to jail in 1975-76, including BJP veteran L K Advani and Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal.
The Prime Minister earlier also visited the residences of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former NDA Convenor George Fernandes who had played a significant role in the fight for democracy in those days.
“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 Prime Minister said.
Modi said “we do not want to remember Emergency to criticise someone, but to constantly be reminded of commitment towards democracy and freedom of press.”
He said the Indian media may have its preferences, but it should never let people of forget the days of Emergency.
“Media should not let the country forget Emergency,” he said, adding that the leadership born during Emergency was not one for TV screens. “It was a leadership committed to live and die for the nation.”
Attacking then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for imposing Emergency, Modi said something good emerges even from a bad and the struggle that ensued during that period helped strengthen democracy.
Noting that the struggle by Jayaprakash Narayan for democracy should be treated as a benchmark, he said his speeches reflected the “deep anguish” of the people who had suffered during Emergency. “Even though he was a soft-spoken man, his speeches were like the boiling lava.