45 years have passed since the night when Emergency was declared in India in the night of 25th June1975. The present article intends to review the current political scenario.
A short recap of this shameful, dark chapter of Indian Democracy which was thrust on the nation by the then Government ostensibly to maintain law and order, but more to retain power for the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi is given for the benefit of some readers.
Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India was unseated from Parliament for misuse of official machinery in election by Judge Jag Mohan Lal Sinha of Allahabad High Court on June 12th 1975 in a ruling on petition by irrepressible Raj Narain supported by eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan. Also debarred from contesting elections for 6 years, Mrs Indira Gandhi challenged the High Court's decision in the Supreme Court. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer upheld the High Court judgement on 24 June 1975 and ordered all privileges Gandhi received as an MP be stopped, and that she be debarred from voting.
At this juncture (within 13 days of Allahabad High Court Judgement), Emergency was proclaimed on 26th June 1975 which lasted till 21st March 1977. The order was signed by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed for “internal disturbance”.
Six fundamental rights of a citizen granted by the constitution were suspended. They were-
1. Right to equality, including equality before law, no discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment.
2. Right to freedom which includes speech and expression, assembly, association or union or cooperatives, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation.
3. Right against exploitation, prohibiting all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic in human beings.
4. Right to freedom of religion, including freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion, freedom to manage religious affairs.
5. Cultural and Educational rights - preserving Right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script, and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
6. Right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
Right to property was originally a fundamental right, but consequent to 44th Amendment Act, right to property ceased to be a Fundamental right. Instead the right to property is mentioned under 300A of Indian Constitution, stating that no person can be deprived of his property save by law.
The BJP is currently having majority in parliament and has successfully implemented some of their agenda declared before last Lok Sabha election.
The Congress Party is unnerved by strength of the BJP. This strength has come in a planned manner. BJP expanded their reach through membership drive. Presently they are the largest political party (with 180 million members) in the world, followed by Communist Party of China (with 90 million members). The Indian National Congress has reportedly about 20 million members. Leadership of Congress party have been worrying more about winning elections to get power than to work at grass root level.
Means get you to the end- this Mantra has not been registered by Leaders of Congress. Of course, sheer large membership base may not win you an election, but the outreach increases. Inner party democracy too would help the Congress to throw up credible leaders with ability who could win elections. Instead of these reforms, their leaders are in a world of make belief which does not get them anywhere. They also forget that through innumerable splits the Congress of today is only a fragment of what it was earlier. Many stalwarts have left in the past and the support base has been consequently weakened.
By not strengthening their organization Congress party is doing a great Disservice to Indian Democracy, for there is no effective opposition. Merely staging few issue based rallies and raising questions in press conference is not enough. They are unnecessarily spending their time and energy on misplaced fears.
Congress Party’s website has an article- “From Mein Führer to Mein Fakir”. Attempting to draw parallel between Herr Adolf Hitler and Mr Narendra Modi, they have written-
1. India, the world’s largest democracy is witnessing brutality, illegal detentions, crackdowns on dissent, mass violence and the continued spread of nationalist propaganda.
2. One can easily draw a parallel of the current government with the fascist Nazi regime of Germany & find several similarities.
3. The RSS has been banned four times before, the first during the British rule and then thrice by the GOI after independence. The reasons were monumental, the first in 1948, when Nathuram Godse, a member of the RSS, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. The second time was during the emergency, and finally in 1992, after the demolition of Babri Masjid which was carried out by the group.
4. Our current Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has spent most of his life servicing the RSS as a pracharak, or an active promoter. He is one of them and thinks and speaks just like them.
There are several other things mentioned in the article. I deal with the above four-
1. The Congress party is attempting to paint a picture of Emergency like situation which prevailed during 1975-1977. If that would be the case, then this article of 07.01.2020 would have been deleted by now and the writer put behind bar (without trial).That has not happened.
2. Under the Nazi culture, those opposing would have been put in concentration camps and gassed to death. That is again not the present scenario.
3. Ironical- RSS has been banned during British and Congress rule. Is that not suppression of freedom of expression by the Congress Governments? I would call this a self-goal!
4. The Constitution of India does not prevent a member of RSS from holding a constitutional position. That is it. The Prime Minister of India need not think and speak only like a Congressman.
Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi would do well to withdraw this article as it is not factual. This article is only an expression of apprehension without any foundation. BJP has been given the mandate to govern for five years by the electorate. The duo should concentrate on going to grass root level and this will not be easy for those with a privileged, comfortable life.
In my view, the present BJP Government will never thrust a 1975 type of Emergency. The Honourable Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi personally suffered and had to be underground disguised as a Sikh! Several stalwarts, some of them went on to become Prime Ministers were jailed on cooked up charges.
For following four incidents the reader may look up the internet for details-
1. Turkman Gate Incident- demolition of houses and police brutality (killing of protesters).
2. Press Censorship- Indian Express on 28th June 1975 kept their editorial blank as a protest.
3. Sycophancy-Mr Dev Kant Borooah, Congress President- Indira is India and India is Indira !
4. Mr Vidya Charan Shukla (I&B Minister) banned songs of Kishore Kumar on AIR.
This author recalls three personal incidents in Varanasi. One- while having dinner in Sindhi Restaurant near Bhelupura, the owner came and told us (then students) not to discuss politics citing fear that police in plainclothes would hear and arrest us. Second- the police visited our Broacha Hostel in BHU accompanied by members of a particular political party. They mercilessly beat up targeted individuals of rival political party. Third- out of curiosity, I (then a teenager) asked a policeman the bore of the gun he was carrying. He threatened to shoot me dead for daring to ask that question! Such were the times.
Innumerable incidents took place (the list can can fill a book). Shah Commission was appointed to probe the excesses.
They say time is a great healer. True, some perpetrators of crime during Emergency now go about freely. Likewise many sufferers have bounced back in life. To recall, Nazi criminals are still being hunted across the globe and brought to justice.
Let us not forget this dark chapter.