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Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Jun 2018 12:44:21

THERE could be a few raised eyebrows as to why the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) restoked the issue of Emergency to describe it as a dark period at an odd time of 43rd anniversary of imposition of the condition by the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi on June 26, 1975. But the point which Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has raised as regards Emergency cannot be overlooked. He has stated unequivocally that some Opposition parties, Congress in particular, have been accusing his regime of having imposed an undeclared Emergency on the country. He has stressed that nothing akin to any State of Emergency is in evidence in India at this hour. There are no senseless arrests. There are no restrictions on freedom of expression. There also is no abrogation of fundamental rights of any section of the society on any ground. In such a situation, how can anybody accuse the regime of having imposed an undeclared Emergency? -- the Prime Minister has asked. This is a very pertinent question which the people must think about in all seriousness. 

Since he assumed office of Prime Minister, Mr. Modi has found himself in the line of fire by Opposition parties for no obvious and legitimate reasons. Whatever he does, including ordering of the surgical strikes on Pakistan to achieve a specific purpose as regards national security, the Opposition parties try to find fault with him. The Prime Minister’s successful forays into diplomatic arena, his very capable presentation of India and its philosophy at international fora like the United Nations or the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland, or at the BRICS summit, his informal summits with Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping or Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin also came in for senseless criticism. The Opposition did not spare Mr. Modi even after a great consolidation of the economy and its recognition by international rating agencies plus the World Bank.

And the latest refrain of the Opposition, mainly the Congress and the Left parties, is that there is an undeclared Emergency in the country. The Prime Minister responded to such criticism by recalling what happened during the State of Emergency of 1975 when countless thousands of political workers as well as innocent civilians were sent to jail and fundamental rights including freedom of expression were abrogated. Editors were put behind bars and journalists were not allowed to write the truth as there was a strict pre-censorship of content in the media. Is anything like that happening in the country at this moment? -- is the Prime Minister’s question.

In fact, there is a growing public opinion that freedom of expression is being abused by some sections of the political community as well as social media. There are people who directly support Pakistan and become advocates of terrorism and separatism in Kashmir. There also are people who fan communal riots and plan actions that lead to divisions in the society on the lines of caste and creed and religion. The general public feels strongly that all such attempts need to be blocked at once.

When the Government is allowing such a free play to democratic thought and action -- even at the cost of truth on many occasions -- there should not have been the accusation that there is an undeclared Emergency in the country. But because such accusation was being made repeatedly, the BJP decided to hit back with truth. We have often felt that no political statement must go overboard. We have often insisted that a deep sense of responsibility must prevail in public discourse. It is out of that concern, we now insist that a continuous and politically-driven accusation of an undeclared Emergency by the Congress party is not acceptable. The Prime Minister has made a very pertinent point in this regard, which we must ponder over seriously.