At a time when his Bharatiya Janata Party is in power at the Centre, veteran leader LK Advani has sought to ruffle feathers by saying that an Emergency-like situation in future could not be ruled out.
“At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger,” Advani said, in remarks that are bound to create controversy as his tumultuous relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is no secret.
While opposition parties are using his statement to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) dismissed speculations that Advani’s statement was a barb aimed at the PM.
Latching on to Advani’s remarks, Congress said that the hidden meaning of the BJP leader was obvious. “Today the jury is out. Advaniji is vocal. What he had to say, he has said. It is obvious whom he is talking about, whose government is there, who is the Prime Minister. He knows it. But he is a statesman-like leader of the BJP. He did not want to name the Prime Minister. But whoever reads the interview, he/she would understand he is talking about Modi,” Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said. He also added that Advani is “right” when he says the present situation in the country signals towards emergency.
Advani said the country’s political system has still not come to terms with the Emergency of 1975.
Since the imposition of Emergency during 1975-77, “I don’t think anything has been done that gives me the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again. Not at all,” said Advani.
“Of course, no one can do it easily… But that it cannot happen again — I will not say that. It could be that fundamental liberties are curtailed again,” he added.
Stating why the same situation could arise again, he said: “I do not see any sign in our polity that assures me, any outstanding aspect of leadership. A commitment to democracy and to all other aspects related to democracy is lacking.”
Janata Dal United (JDU) leader KC Tyagi, who was also imprisoned with Advani during thre Emergency, said “I agree with Adavani Ji that circumstances like emergency and context are still alive and the reasons lead to emergency are not finished yet.”
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, too, echoed Advani’s statements and claimed that the state was facing issues on a daily basis. “Advani is among the senior-most leaders of BJP and his concerns should be considered seriously. As far as an Emergency-like situation is concerned, we are facing it on a daily basis,” Kumar said.
SP leader Naresh Aggarwal claimed that that if Advani has expressed a worry then it was for the government to consider it seriously as a veteran member of their party has expressed a concern like this. “The system that is going on in the country at this time is not democratic and somewhere the dictatorship attitude is reflecting,” he said.
“Advani ji is correct in saying that emergency can’t be ruled out. Is Delhi their first experiment?” tweeted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose government is locked in an ugly power tussle with the Centre.
“Advaniji clearly visualises that the leadership of Mr Modi and the government of BJP are every day crushing Indian democracy and creating a situation and ambience where emergency is not far,” AAP leader Ashutosh said.