Describing the Emergency imposed from 1975-77 as the “biggest blow” to democracy in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that it gave birth to a new generation of political leadership that was ready to “live and die for the country”, and not just “for TV screens”. “Leadership born during Emergency was not one for TV screens. It was a leadership to live and die for the nation,” said Modi while paying tributes to socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan on his 113th birth anniversary.
Modi’s comments came a day before the first phase of polling in the Bihar assembly elections where many of those who fought together against the Emergency imposed by the Congress government of Indira Gandhi are in opposing camps now — from JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar and RJD’s Lalu Yadav to BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi.
“The biggest message that came out of the anti-Emergency struggle was the inspiration to fight repression. So many people in politics today owe their initial days to those days of Emergency, JP Movement, Navnirman Movement … they gave birth to a new kind of politics in the nation,” Modi told a packed Vigyan Bhawan, where the audience shouted slogans of “Bharat Mata ki jai” and “JP amar rahe” (Long live JP). “We do not want to remember Emergency to criticise someone, but to constantly be reminded of commitment towards democracy and freedom of press,” Modi said. Criticising former PM Indira Gandhi for imposing the Emergency, Modi said something good emerges even from a bad and the struggle that ensued during that period helped strengthen democracy. Noting that the struggle by Jayaprakash Narayan for democracy should be treated as a benchmark, Modi said: “Even though he was a soft-spoken man, his speeches were like the boiling lava.”happy wheels
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