Grasping for Power
Over the years the anniversary of declaring internal emergency in the country by the then Indira Gandhi government has become an event of political rhetoric. It was no different this year too. On the 43 anniversary of the said event Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew down to Mumbai attacked Congress for imposing emergency. On the other hand, Congress alleged that that the country is witnessing an undeclared emergency since Mr. Modi has come to power. Mamata Banerjee’s Trinomool Congress termed the present situation as ‘super emergency’. All in all a political war of words is going on in the country for the last few days over the event that took place more than four decades ago.
Before proceeding further, it should be stated that emergency would always remain as a bolt to our democratic values and system. No explanation from the Congress will be able to hide the fact that an emergency was declared to retain Congress in power. After the euphoria over Bangladesh Liberation War was over which propelled Congress to power in 1971, Indira Gandhi started losing her firm grip over country’s politics and started fearing the loss of power. The fear was further increased when Allahabad High Court in a landmark judgement declared Mrs. Gandhi’s victory from Raibarerli parliamentary constituency null and void on grounds of misusing official powers. Faced with such setbacks, Mrs Gandhi then imposed emergency to corner the opposition. Almost all prominent opposition leaders were jailed. Media came under unprecedented censorship; even freedom of common people was curtailed. Thankfully the country managed to get rid of such a situation by voting out Congress from power in 1977.
The Emergency was an eye opener, it taught us that we can never lower our guard even after adopting a democratic set up. Power hungry politicians can always mould it in their favour by misusing power. When it comes to power, there is virtually no difference among the leaders. All of them want to be in power as long as possible, some by declaring emergency and others by choosing strange bedfellows in the name of coalition politics. So the question which should be debated on the anniversary of proclamation of emergency is whether we have learnt any lessons from this shameful misuse of power? Quite sadly, we have not learnt a single lesson from the said episode. Even today we are seeing rampant misuse of power to be at the helm of affairs. The most recent example is Karnataka where the parties joined hands to share power though they have fought against each other in elections. Similar incidents happened in Goa, Manipur and some other states too. These days the question ‘who will rule’ is being decided by forces occupying power rather than the people of the country. Thus the prevailing situation in the country is no better than it was during the emergency. The present situation does not give any scope for anyone or any party to attack each other over the issue. They are all guilty of misusing power taking advantage of the country’s democratic set up.