The Emergency imposed in 1975 was the “biggest blow” to Indian democracy but it also led to the birth of a new political generation in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, as he paid tributes to Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan on his birth anniversary.
The prime minister also paid tribute to Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader and social activist Nanaji Deshmukh: “On his birth anniversary, my tributes to the great Nanaji Deshmukh.”
He also met ailing former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former union minister George Fernandes on the occasion.
Describing Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan as a “true socialist reformer”, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said his ideals would “continue to inspire” all political activists of the country.
“Humble tributes to our guide Loknayak JP Narayan on his birth anniversary. A true socialist reformer his ideals continue to inspire all of us,” he tweeted on Saturday.
The prime minister, in his speech at the Loktantra Prahari Abhinandan to mark the 113th birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, said the political generation that emerged during the Emergency was fully dedicated to the democratic values, inspired by J.P., as Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan was popularly called.
“Emergency made a huge dent; it was a setback for India’s democratic tradition. But at times, goodness comes out of the bad,” Modi said.
“The J.P. movement, the anti-corruption movement, the fight against Emergency after 25 years of Independence was an occasion. Today, the people in political life in India, most of them, are those who were born out of the Emergency,” he said.
J.P. had the capacity to get some positivity out of the Emergency, he said, adding that Indian democracy became stronger after the Emergency.
“I don’t want to cry about Emergency. We must remember Emergency and recognize the power of democracy… make future generations aware of it. It is the demand of the times,” he said.
J.P., born in 1902 in Sitabdiara village of Bihar’s Saran district, had spearheaded the fight against the Emergency which was imposed on June 25, 1975 by late former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
On Monday, the first phase of assembly voting will take place in Bihar where there is a fight between the BJP-led NDA and the grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress.
On October 7, BJP general secretary Arun Singh had said a nationwide campaign would be held on Sunday to highlight how Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, one-time followers of the anti-emergency Jayaprakash Narayan movement, joined hands with Congress, the party which had imposed it.