It was the 43rd anniversary of the Emergency imposed on June 25, 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for the first time in independent India.
As usual, the RSS which was banned during the Emergency, and its political face, the BJP used this opportunity to express their anger and protest. As part of that, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his post on social media likened Indira Gandhi to Nazi Germany’s dictator Adolf Hitler. Jaitley who criticized both the leaders saying that they used the Constitution to turn democracy into dictatorship, pointed out that unlike Hitler, Indira attempted to transform India into a ‘dynastic democracy’. Jaitley also posted on Facebook and Twitter that Indira who ensured a two-third majority for her party in the Parliament by imprisoning the Opposition leaders including himself and other MPs, amended the Constitution as she wished.
It does not seem that even the Congress leaders would be able to say that the remarks of Jaitley who holds a crucial portfolio in Narendra Modi’s Hindutwa government, about Emergency were false or were mere allegations. It was certainly an attack on Indian democracy that happened during the Emergency. Fundamental rights were suspended. The leaders of all parties except the Congress and its allies were arrested and jailed. Media was gagged. Jamaat-e-Islami which had no connections at all with any kind of protests was also banned along with RSS which played an active role in the popular protests by Jayaprakash Narayan. Indira’s son Sanjay disrupted the peaceful lives of the people like an elephant running amok. Thousands at the Turkman gate were driven away from their shelters. Forced sterlization was carried out. A terrifying situation ensued where nobody except the Congressmen could walk or talk.
Indira Gandhi announced the general elections in March 1977 firmly believing that the entire nation had come under her controlthrough passing of the 42nd Constitutional amendment. With all the leaders in prison, who will lead the opposition? Even otherwise what could a disunited opposition do in such a situation? But all the calculations misfired. Four prominent opposition parties joined their hands together; Janata party came into existence. Leaders led the election campaign from inside the prison. The illiterate common man gave the verdict against the Emergency; Indira was forced to step down. Emergency was withdrawn and the ban on organizations lifted. The Janata government scrapped the 42nd Constitutional amendment. The great nation of India returned freedom and democracy.
However, the most pernicious consequence of the Emergency which lasted for two years, is that it paved way for the extraordinary growth of the most hardline Fascist organization- the RSS. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani who played a role in the Janata government that paved way for the restoration of democracy later succeeded in sabotaging it, the nation witnessed the Bharatiya Jana Sangh re-incarnated itself as Bharatiya Janata Party. Still later the country also witnessed the BJP becoming the strongest party in the country through planned moves that followed and seizing power in the majority of Indian states with massive majority by capitalizing on the fall of Congress. Thus when the RSS-BJP government which succeeded in exploiting not only from the disunity of the secular parties but also from the public ire towards corruption and also ensuring the complete cooperation of the corporate giants, enters the fifth year, the pertinent question is: Which is more dangerous- Indira Gandhi’s declared emergency or Narendra Modi’s undeclared emergency?
One who recently said in public that undeclared emergency is more dangerous than emergency is the senior leader in Rajasthan Ghan Shyam Tiwari, who resigned from the BJP and is preparing to form his own new party. People are in fear like never before. With all the constitutional institutions in the grip of extremist Hindutva forces, religious minorities, Dalits, secular intellectuals and lovers of humanity who believe in humanism have all lost their sense of security. Indira Gandhi who feared about losing power imposed emergency in a way out of anxiety about her own future.
Even when she took dictatorial actions, she did not have either totalitarianism or reconstruction of a culture of millennia ago in her agenda. She did not meddle with the food habits or education of the people, did not nullify any currency; nor did she succumb to corporates beyond an extent, nor try to sabotage the judiciary. She was not equal to Hitler. But what is happening in Modi's rule is just the opposite. Hitler is Modi's role model. That being so, Sangh parivar does not have the moral right to portray the Emergency as a colossal tragedy. By any yardstick, undeclared emergency is more dangerous and disastrous than declared emergency. And the wise would reject both.