New Delhi: India has been under an undeclared Emergency and it is different from the one imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 as she never called the then opposition leaders “anti-national” or “unpatriotic” and did not kill minorities, Dalits and even journalists, says Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad in his memoir.
In his autobiography titled “Gopalganj to Raisina: My Political Journey”, which went on sale on Sunday, he narrates how the very idea of India enshrined in the Constitution is threatened under the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule.
“Though there is no official censorship, several media houses, owned by major corporates, hesitate to air opinions or shows that are unpalatable to the Modi government,” he has written.
He also highlights the incident of four senior-most Supreme Court judges holding a press conference saying the democracy is in danger.
Drawing a parallel between the Emergency of 1975 and “the undeclared one of today”, Prasad said then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had at least resorted to constitutional provisions to declare it.
“That Emergency was different from the present spell in the sense that Indira Gandhi put many of us behind bars, but she never abused us. Neither she nor her Ministers or party leaders ever called us ‘anti-national’ or ‘unpatriotic,” he said.
“She never unleashed vandals to defile the memory of (B.R.) Ambedkar, the architect of our Constitution. She didn’t unleash mobs to kill and maim minorities and Dalits in the name of religion and caste. Cattle-traders were not persecuted and killed on doubts of possessing beef.”
Journalists and writers were jailed, but never killed by Gandhi, her ministers did not question morality of young students in educational institutions, including Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and the dissenters were not asked to go to Pakistan, Prasad said.
“The assassins of Mahatma Gandhi were not worshiped during the 1975 Emergency,” he said.
The former Bihar Chief Minister also said Gandhi lost to the Janata Dal in 1977 and regained power in 1980, but she did not “utter blatant lies” and made “false promises” to attract voters.
Taking a dig at Modi, the RJD leader said: “She (Gandhi) never said she would give two crore jobs every year to the youth or deposit Rs 15 lakh into the account of every Indian, she did not promise ‘acche din’ (good days) or unleash lynch mobs to bring about ‘bure din’ (days of trouble) on the minorities and the Dalits.”
Claiming that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — ideological fountainhead of the BJP — played “a dubious role” in the BJP movement and they used it to gain recognition in society.
“We had not heard of Modi, Jaitley or Venkaiah Naidu during the Emergency,” he said.