NEW DELHI: BJP patriarch L K Advani’s comments suggesting that “emergency can return” created a political storm, with Opposition leaders taking pot shots at the Modi Government, while the BJP appeared to play safe.
Finally, it took official reaction from BJP’s ideological mentor RSS to send out a message. “We do not see Emergency like situation in present scenario in Bharat,” Sangh spokesperson Dr Manmohan Vaidya said in a tweet. The message from the Sangh was aimed at clearing the air that Advani, through his remarks in an interview, had attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Advani had remarked, “At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger.”
Adding that since the the Emergency in 1975-77, “I don’t think anything has been done that gives the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again. Not at all.. Of course, 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.”
Coming at a time when BJP-led government was hit by controversy over help extended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Lalit Modi, and even Vasaundhra Raje’s proximity to the IPL czar, Advani’s comments were interpreted as swipe at the PM.
BJP spokespersons said that Advani’s comments could have referred to the institutions and not individuals. Minister of State and former army chief V K Singh said, “I’ll go to Advani ji and ask him on what context he said what he said.”
Bihar C M Nitish Kumar said, “Advani is among the senior-most leaders of the BJP and his concerns should be considered seriously. As far as Emergency- like situation is concerned, we are facing it here on a daily basis.” “Just see what kind of promises were made during the Lok Sabha polls and what has happened to them after they (BJP) came to power. They used to boast that they have completed one year and there have been no scams during the period, but see how many scams have started surfacing no,” Kumar said. Echoing Nitish’s views RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said, “Advani Ji proved that our concerns regarding anti-democratic elements and activities being sponsored and promoted by union government are correct. Already there is undeclared emergency as authoritarian and Hitlerian tendencies prevailing in country since May14. We have experience to win over it.”
Congress latched on to Advani’s remarks saying the “jury is out” from the ruling party itself and he was indeed hinting at “emergency-like” situation under Modi’s rule. “L K Advani is comparing the ‘declared emergency’ 40 yrs back to the ‘undeclared emergency’ which is ongoing for last one year,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
His party colleague, Veerapa Moily attacked the central government: “As per what to LK Advani said, he means that democracy is threatened in the country presently.”
Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakan 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.”