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India lacks system to check Emergency

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Advani Emergency Fears

Forces that can crush democracy are stronger…I don’t have the confidence it (Emergency) cannot happen again: BJP leader LK Advani told Indian Express ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Emergency….reports Asian Lite News

Advani Emergency Fears
Advani Emergency Fears

Veteran BJP leader Advani said India’s political system is still to come to terms with the Emergency and a similar suspension of civil liberties could not be ruled out in the future.

“At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger,” he told Indian Express.

“In the years since the Emergency in 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.”

Advani’s comments echoed with that of The Economist. In an editorial to mark Modi’s one year in power, the Economist said Modi has concentrated more power in his own hands than any prime minister in recent memory of India.

“The problem is that India needs a transformation—and the task is too much for a one-man band,” the weekly said.

The editorial added: “There is no doubting Mr Modi’s conviction that India is about to achieve greatness, and he may well be right. Within a generation, it will become the planet’s most populous nation. It could be one of the world’s three largest economies. And it could wield more influence in international relations than at any time in its history. But, in his heart, the prime minister believes that only one man is destined to lead India down this path: Narendra Damodardas Modi.”

Advani was jailed during the Emergency in 1975 along with AB Vajpayee. Recalling the Emergency as a crime perpetrated by Indira Gandhi and her Congress government that has still to be fully acknowledged and owned up to, Advani said that it happened despite the constitutional safeguards that were in place. “There aren’t enough safeguards in India in 2015,” he said. It is possible, said Advani, that the Emergency could save India from another Emergency — “… as it happened in Germany, where Hitler’s rule appears to have inoculated the system against Hitlerian tendencies and because of which today’s Germany is more particular about democratic norms than even perhaps the British.” And then, “The aftermath of the Emergency having been an election in which the party that imposed the Emergency lost very badly, would always be a deterrent for future rulers who think of repeating what was done in the 1970s.”

Senior BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) leader L K Advani with BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the foundation stone laying ceremony for Sardar Patel's statue of Unity at Kevadia colony near Sardar Sarovar Dam on Oct.31, 2013. (Photo: IANS)
Senior BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) leader L K Advani with BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the foundation stone laying ceremony for Sardar Patel’s statue of Unity at Kevadia colony near Sardar Sarovar Dam on Oct.31, 2013. (Photo: IANS)

But of the countervailing forces against authoritarianism, the media “is more independent today”, said Advani, “but does it have a real commitment to democracy and civil liberties — I don’t know. It is something that must be put to the test”. And civil society raised hopes, most recently during the Anna mobilisation against corruption, only to disappoint, he said. “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,” said Advani.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday supported Advani’s statement in which he had not ruled out an Emergency- like situation in the country again.

“Advani ji is correct in saying that Emergency can’t be ruled out. Is Delhi their first experiment,” Kejriwal asked in a tweet.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said he agreed with Advani who expressed fear over return of Emergency in the country by saying that “forces that can crush democracy have become stronger”.
The chief minister also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party over the ongoing Sushma Swaraj-Lalit Modi controversy.
“The BJP leader is right to a large extent on his statement that at the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger,” Nitish Kumar told media persons.

“Advani is a veteran leader; there is need to give attention to his fear and worry,” he added.