BJP, Congress spar on Emergency's anniversary

The BJP and Congress targeted each other over the Emergency imposed in 1975, while the CPI(M) accused the BJP of distorting history. DH file photo.

An all-out war of words broke out on Tuesday between the BJP and the Congress on the Emergency's anniversary.

Observing it as "black day", BJP leaders fanned out in the country to highlight the Emergency's excesses with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the charge with a ballistic speech in Mumbai and party chief Amit Shah addressing a meeting in Ahmedabad of those jailed during the 1975-77 Emergency.

The Congress hit back, likening Modi to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and alleging that he has imposed "undeclared Emergency".

At a press conference here, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that the Congress' DNA supports the draconian measure as he accused the party of "threatening" the Supreme Court with its recent actions, including a move to impeach the chief justice. The Congress' image, identity continue to be guided by Emergency, he said.

BSP president Mayawati echoed the Congress' views saying the country has been under an "undeclared emergency" for the last four years while CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury accused the BJP of distorting history and trained guns at its ideological mentor RSS.

Modi said the draconian measure was a "sin" of the Congress and that the Constitution was misused for "one family".

In a fusillade against the main opposition party, a combative Modi launched a no-holds-barred attack on the Congress and the (Gandhi) Parivar (family).

In an apparent bid to deflate the Opposition's charge that his government was imposing an "undeclared Emergency" in the country, Modi said there was no difference in the "psyche" of the Congress during Emergency and now.

The Constitution was misused "for one family" while imposing the Emergency, Modi said. The entire country was turned into a jail for selfish personal interest of that family," he added.

The Congress equated Modi with Aurangzeb and alleged that he was even more cruel than the Mughal emperor and "enslaved democracy" in the country for the past 49 months with an undeclared Emergency.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Modi was launching an attack on the Congress only to hide his own failures and the "false" promises and "jumlas" he had made to the public before coming to power.

He alleged that an atmosphere of fear was being created in the country to suppress dissent with those opposing them dubbed as "anti-national" and that an "undeclared emergency" was imposed in the country under Modi.

"Delhi Sultanate's 'dictator' Modi, who is even crueler than Aurangzeb, today gave lessons to the country on the Emergency imposed 43 years ago. By taking out his anger on the Congress, can a lid be put on Modiji's 'jumlas'?

"Today's Aurangzeb has enslaved democracy in the country including in his own party, the BJP. Modiji while trying to put a lid on his own failures is taking revenge with history today, but he has forgotten that he himself will become history soon," he told reporters.

Surjewala said, "Aurangzeb never took lessons from anybody... Dictators don't take lessons, only history teaches them lessons and I am sure Modiji will also have the same fate."

Unions ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Smriti Irani and M J Akbar, Ananth Kumar, J P Nadda and Dharmendra Pradhan were among the BJP leaders who targeted the Congress at events held across the country.

Yechury alleged that the then RSS chief's letters pledging support to Indira Gandhi and pleading for release during the Emergency were recorded in history after Union minister Arun Jaitley claimed that the Left parties were not part of active struggle against the move.

In his tweets, Yechury has lashed out at Jaitley reminding him that though the BJP "distorts history" but "heroic sacrifice" of the CPI(M) workers during the Emergency are well documented.

"Distorting history is their occupation. History has recorded CPI(M) martyrs and heroic sacrifices in this struggle for the restoration of Democracy. History also records two servile letters of the RSS chief pledging support to Indira Gandhi's 20 point programme & pleading release (sic)," the CPI(M) leader tweeted.

In his Facebook post, Jaitley said India's Left parties have always been a puzzle to him.

The CPI was an "unashamed supporter" of the Emergency and Its political line was that Emergency was a war on fascism, he said.

"Though theoretically the CPI (M) was opposed to the Emergency and critical of it, it was not an active participant in the struggle against the Emergency," Jaitley said.

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BJP, Congress spar on Emergency's anniversary

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