Advani Warns of another Emergency

04 July 2015
THE memory of the notorious Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has not yet faded from the psyche of the Indian people, and BJP leader L.K. Advani is warning citizens that another one might be imminent. One-time RSS pracharak and one of the BJP’s founding members, Advani has said in an interview to The Indian Express ahead of the 40th anniversary of the imposition of Emergency, that he feared that “at the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger.” “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 said, echoing growing apprehensions among democratic sections of society.

The tendency of the BJP government to peremptorily pass Ordinances when it cannot muster enough votes for its bills in Parliament, the increasing attack on the secular fabric of society, the steady and deliberate saffronisation of academia and, lately, the scandal surrounding the closeness of two senior BJP leaders – External Affairs Minister SushmaSwaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister VasundharaRaje – to disgraced former IPL boss LalitModi, who is also a fugitive from the law, clearly indicate that when Advani said Emergency might be imposed, he was not making a vague statement but speaking from certain knowledge.

While BJP spokesperson MJ Akbar attempted to cover up for Advani’s remarks by saying “Advaniji was referring to institutions rather than pointing towards any individual”, saffron ideologue and former BJP general secretary KN Govindacharya suggested that the BJP veteran was referring to the present situation. “Advaniji’s views are important in the context of Emergency and its prevalence in the present nature of the state today. He could be referring to the existing trust and dialogue deficit between the people and those who are governing them. He could also be talking about the loosening of checks and balances in the appointments of Lok Ayukta, lampooning of the powers of CAG and other undemocratic processes that are evident in governance now,” he said. “Everyone knows and understands that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If efforts of making ‘Indira is India’ were seen through, the ‘Modification’ that is happening all around us will not be spared too,” added the former RSS pracharak. Clearly, this is indicative of deep rifts within the ruling party, which, paradoxically, holds an overwhelming majority in Parliament. And we know that when a ruling party is ridden with contradictions within and, at the same time, committed to majoritarianism and authoritarianism, fascistic developments are likely.

Prominent civil society members have also voiced their apprehensions over such developments. Expressing concerns over the “changing” social landscape of the country, civil society members have accused the NDA government of launching multi-layer attacks on various segments of society, especially minorities, during its one-year run at Centre. In their report, 365 Days - Democracy and Secularism Under Modi Regime, the members have claimed that creation of communal tension by majority, onslaughts on minorities, attack on educational system and suppression of advocacy groups have resulted in an “alarming” situation in the country. “The SanghParivar has been given a free hand, which is very obvious from hate speeches by several of its leaders and those from BJP. Communal violence is on the rise. Educational institutes are being meddled with. It is an alarming situation. It is visible to everyone, but we have tried to document the same for record,” Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD said.

According to the report, 43 persons were killed in 600 cases of violence against minorities between May 26, 2014 and May 13, 2015. The figures do not include killing of 108 people in attacks by tribal political groups in Assam. The report, edited by Hashmi along with political activist John Dayal, states that such incidents are a result of hate speeches made by members of the ruling party. A member of the National Advisory Council of India and social activist, Harsh Mander referred to BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj’s remarks of madarassas being “hubs of terror” and exhorting Hindu women to bear at least four children. Mander also cited statements of another BJP MP Yogi Adityanath who declared that India cannot be imagined without Ram and Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti who labeled those not worshipping Ram as “haramazade”.

The report further accused the Centre of “meddling” with the country’s judicial system at the “highest level”. The civil society members also expressed concern over the way the scientific temperament, which had once helped create organisations like IIT and IIM, is now being threatened. “During the past one year, we have witnessed unprecedented attack on scientific temper, rational thinking and scientific establishments of the country. The assault has been four-pronged: spreading and providing credibility to myths, occupying spaces such as science congress, crippling scientific institutes by political interference and spreading panic to demoralize the scientific community of the country,” the report said while also pointing towards Modi’s remarks that “Hindu God Ganesh was actually a creation of ancient plastic surgery”. “A situation is being created in which minorities are impelled to listen to the views of the majority. The incidents in Delhi’s Bawana, Atali in Haryana, etc. reflect the same. The Centre is in connivance with the perpetrators of the incidents or else, nobody would have dared do such things,” Delhi University professor Apoorvanand said.

Clearly, Advani was not talking through his hat when he expressed his apprehensions. The signs are distinct enough. It is time for relentless resistance.
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