BJP-ruled civic agency looks to dig up Emergency dirt

The BJP-ruled South Corporation has come up with a bizarre idea to remind people about the horrors of the “darkest hours” in the Indian politics by making a collage of newspapers cuttings of June 26, 1975 – the day when the Emergency was declared.

At a time when the civic agency should be focusing on desilting drains and other related activities with the onset of pre-monsoon showers, the civic agency’s political wing has chalked out plans to embarrass the rival Congress with these hoardings.

One of the hoardings, will feature a famous satirical cartoon by Abu Abraham depicting the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signing the Emergency documents while lying in a bath tub.

Ahmed declared a state of Emergency, which lasted for 18-months from 1975 to 1977, under Article 352 of the Constitution on the advice of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Congress.

Many of the leaders of the Jan Sangh, the earlier avatar of the present BJP, were jailed during Emergency.

The saffron party's councillors remained tight-lipped on Tuesday on how many of such political billboards have been planned.

However, half a dozen workers of the civic agency are making rounds of newspaper archives and libraries to dig out as many clippings and visuals related to the four decade old saga.

A senior Bharatiya Janata Party councillor in the South Corporation said that the civic agency is all geared up to put up these hoardings on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Emergency.

“It’s an informative exercise which will tell people about the horrors of the Emergency. And it (emergency) should never be imposed,” the corporator said without being able to justify the link between the hoardings and the civic agency’s statutory functions.

But the cash-rich South Delhi Municipal Corporation can afford to indulge in such an activity as it is financially self-sufficient as compared to the other two local bodies – the North and East Corporations.

Asked about the relevance of the Emergency-related exercise, a councillor told Deccan Herald: “It’s an anti-Congress campaign. It reminds us of the way the Congress tactfully manoeuvred constitutional safeguards to impose the Emergency which led to the arrest of many political leaders and hardships for people.”

Sources said the BJP tacitly wants to sow anti-Congress seeds among the young generation which values liberty and freedoms of speech.

“We want to make sure all the sections of society know about the harmful impacts of the Emergency,” he added, dismissing that the cropped up soon after BJP veteran L K Advani tried to revive the memories of the Emergency.

Advani, in an interview to an english daily, had said, “I do not say that the political leadership is not mature. But I don’t have the confidence that it (Emergency) cannot happen again.”.

During the Emergency many political leaders especially from the opposition parties were arrested including Jayaprakash Narayan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Advani, Arun Jaitely, Chandra Shekhar and Morarji Desai, among others. Even the freedom of the press was curtailed during the same period.

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