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Opposition up in arms as newly-elected Speaker Om Birla recalls 'dark chapter' of Emergency in Lok Sabha

After his election, Birla rose to pass a statement in the House, praising the 'strength and determination' of all those who strongly opposed the Emergency, which was imposed 49 years ago on June 26, 1975.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 16:55 IST

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New Delhi: Right after his election as the Speaker of Lok Sabha Om Birla recalled 'the dark days of Emergency in the country' on Wednesday, triggering a sharp reaction from the Congress MPs who immediately rose in protest. While some Trinamool Congress MPs and some DMK MPs also protested alongside the grand old party leaders, opposition MPs including Samajwadi Party members remained seated.

After his election, Birla rose to pass a statement in the House, praising the “strength and determination” of all those who strongly opposed the Emergency, which was imposed 49 years ago on June 26, 1975.

"This was a dark chapter in the history of India, on this day the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency in the country and launched a fierce attack on the Constitution written by Babasaheb,” Birla said. Several Opposition MPs noted that the statement was not part of the agenda or list of business.

“A dictatorship was imposed on India, democratic values were forgotten and freedom of expression was stifled. The rights of the citizens were destroyed and many Opposition leaders were put in jail,” he added, even as the Congress MPs continued their protests.

Birla also said that the then government tried to destroy the basic principles of the Constitution by establishing control over the judiciary. After he read out the statement, he urged the House to observe silence for two minutes before the House was adjourned for the day.

Treasury members held a demonstration with placards at the entrance of the Samvidhan Sadan, in the steps of the Makar Dwar.

Soon after, in the BJP headquarters, spokesperson Sambhit Patra said that “On June 26, even Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet ministers were shocked to hear of the unilateral decision. Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency due to her hunger for power, following a corrupt election practice case in the Allahabad High Court,” he said.

Seeking to send out a message of business as usual, the BJP’s leadership came forward to support Birla’s statement in the House. The statement also elicited praise from PM Narendra Modi.

"I am glad that the Honourable Speaker strongly condemned the Emergency, highlighting the excesses committed during that time … The Emergency was imposed 50 years ago but it is important for today's youth to know about it because it remains a fitting example of what happens when the Constitution is trampled over, public opinion is stifled and institutions are destroyed,” Modi posted on X.

Union home minister Amit Shah, in a post on X, said that many sensitive amendments made in the Constitution during the dark period of Emergency “exposed the dictatorial mentality” of the Congress which “centralised all powers in one person”.

“(The Speaker’s address) has exposed the anti-democratic thinking of the Congress which has harmed the major pillars like judiciary, bureaucracy and media,” Shah said. A day earlier, BJP president JP Nadda held a programme at the BJP headquarters condemning the Emergency.

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Published 26 June 2024, 16:55 IST

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