NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attacked the Congress over clamping of Emergency on its 41st anniversary today, calling it a "dark night" for the country and a "blot" on the party.
Recalling the Emergency period when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister, Jaitley asserted its impact was to "inflict a dictatorship" on the country while Modi said the "shining example" of "democratic" powers of a common citizen" seen during that period should keep reminding the nation again and again.
Modi spoke about the Emergency when he addressed the nation on his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.
"Sometimes some people mock at my 'Mann Ki Baat' programme and even criticise it. This is possible because we are committed to democracy," he said.
".. today when I am talking to you on June 26, we should not forget that our strength is democracy, our strength is people's strength and our strength is every citizen. We have to take this commitment further and strengthen it," he added.
He said that the democracy, which empowers every citizen, had been suppressed on this day in 1975.
"The morning of June 26, 1975, was such a black night when Emergency was imposed on the country. All rights of the citizens were taken away. The country was turned into a prison. Along with Jayaprakash Narayan, lakhs of people and thousands of politicians were sent to jails," he recalled.
The Prime Minister said it is the strength of the countrymen that they have lived this democracy.
"When the newspaper offices are sealed and radio speaks only voice, people on the other hand make you realise the power of democratic forces. This is a big strength for any nation," he said in apparent reference to the Emergency days.
He said there should be an attitude that people continue to realise their strengths.
Jaitley targeted the Congress over Emergency and operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple among other issues and threw a challenge at the present Congress leadership, asking if it had any views and internal debate on them.
"If one looks back at the history of the Congress Party after independence, the blots on it are economic reforms being delayed by over two decades, transformation of India in to a dynastic democracy, the imposition of Emergency in 1975, Operation Blue Star and corruption," the minister said in his Facebook post - 'Constitutional dictatorship imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi forty-one years ago'.
"The impact of the Emergency was to inflict a dictatorship on the country," said Jaitley, who was imprisoned during the Emergency period.
On June 26, 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed an internal emergency in the country, he said, adding "the phoney reason she gave was that there was a breakdown of public order in as much as Jayaprakash Narayan had asked the police and the army not to follow illegal orders."
The actual reason, however, was that her continuation as the Prime Minister was threatened since the Allahabad High Court had unseated her as Member of Parliament for adopting corrupt practices during her election, he said.