Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Bharatiya Janata Party leaders gathered here on Sunday to celebrate the birth anniversary of Jayprakash Narayan, freedom fighter and follower of Mahatma Gandhi who led massive campaigns against the Indira Gandhi government before the Emergency and after in the mid-1970s.
Recalling the Emergency days, Mr. Modi said the disobedience to the measure imposed by Indira Gandhi had given birth to a new generation of politicians. Therefore, it should be remembered “not to brood over what happened then, but to strengthen our resolve to fortify and further strengthen the democratic values and framework in our country”.
Taking a dig at Indira Gandhi for giving “the biggest blow to Indian democracy”, Mr. Modi said she was more bothered about securing her reputation abroad than addressing the discontent among the people back home.
Mr. Modi honoured 14 political veterans who had fought the Emergency. They included senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, whom the Prime Minister lauded for playing a significant role in presenting the “true picture” of Emergency abroad, explaining to the West how Indira Gandhi had violated Indian democracy. Mr. Modi gave him a silver trophy and a shawl.
In his address, Mr. Swamy said that when he had asked Indira Gandhi why she imposed the Emergency, she told him that she thought the clampdown would help her win the 1977 Lok Sabha elections.
“She wanted to put an end to the underground activities of a large number of individuals and organisations,” said Mr. Swamy.
Mr. Modi paid tributes to Jayprakash Narayan, also known as Loknayak, on his 113th birth anniversary saying JP was “a role model”, who inspired young people to have faith in Indian democracy and bring fresh perspective to the country’s electoral politics.
“The biggest message that came out of the anti-Emergency struggle was the inspiration to fight repression,” Mr. Modi said. “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.”
Since Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, who’s giving a hard time to the BJP in poll-bound Bihar, is a product of J.P movement, senior BJP leader and Urban Development Minister M. Venekaiah Naidu expressed concern that some such leaders have “compromised with the spirit of that movement in the lure of power”.
Earlier, Mr. Modi met former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former NDA convener George Fernandes who had played a crucial role in the struggle against the Emergency.
Among those felicitated were BJP leader L.K. Advani, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal, the Governors Kalyan Singh, O.P. Kohli, Balram Dass Tandon and Valubhai Vala, the former Deputy Speaker Kariya Munda.