New Delhi | Veteran BJP leader L K Advani today expressed fears of return of Emergency, kicking up another row in the midst of the raging controversy over the relations of senior Modi Government Ministers with former IPL boss Lalit Modi wanted in India in several cases.
”Forces that can crush democracy are stronger today,” Mr Advani said in an interview with the Indian Express ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Emergency, which was imposed on June 25, 1975.
Mr Advanis interview evoked sharp response from opposition parties with Congress and AAP leaders asserting that his observations were targeted against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, according to them, was not following democratic norms while running the government.
AAP leader Ashutosh and Congress partys Tom Vadakkan said Mr Advanis interview was pointing towards Mr Modi.
JD ( U) leader KC Tyagi said he was in total agreement with Mr Advani and felt that conditions had not changed in the country even 40 years after the Emergency. Mr Tyagi was also in Meerut Jail during the Emergency in 1975.
Mr Advani also said that today’s leadership lacked any outstanding aspect that could assure him that democracy could be protected against any onslaught.
”Since 1975-1977, I do not think anything has been done that gives the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again. Not at all,” said the veteran BJP leader who was jailed for 19 months during the Emergency.
At present, Mr Advani is the member of the ruling BJP’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’.
He said the country’s political system was yet to come to terms with the emergency and similar suspension of civil liberties could not be ruled out in future.
Mr Advani said ”at present times, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards are stronger.”
”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. I do not see any sign in our polity that assures any outstanding aspect of leadership, a commitment to democracy and to all other aspects related to it,” Mr Advani said.
”I don’t say the political leadership is not mature but do not have faith because of its weakness,” he added.
Mr Advani said the civil society had raised hopes during the Anna Movement but it turned out to be a disappointment.
While acknowledging the role of media against any attempt to take the country towards authoritarian regime, Mr Advani, however said, ”does it have a real commitment to democracy and civil liberties–I do not know. It is something that should be put to test.”
But he credited the judiciary with having acted as a bulwark against any attempt to undermine democracy.
”Of the various institutions that are to be held responsible for a well functioning democracy in India today, the judiciary is more responsible than the others,” Mr Advani said.
Journalist and BJP leader MJ Akbar said such fears were misplaced and made it clear that Mr Advanis observations were not aimed at individuals,but institutions.
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