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Bihar elections: Across the country, an effort to show there’s a JP in BJP

The party has big plans for observing JP’s 113th birth anniversary on October 11 as ‘Save Democracy Day’ with a programme planned in every state capital.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi |
Updated: October 6, 2015 7:26:03 am
Jayaprakash Narayan Jayaprakash Narayan

With some of the best known faces of Jayaprakash Narayan’s anti-Emergency, anti-Congress movement fighting the Bihar elections in alliance with the Congress, the BJP has set about claiming JP as its own.

The party has big plans for observing JP’s 113th birth anniversary on October 11 as ‘Save Democracy Day’ with a programme planned in every state capital recalling the birth of anti-Congressism, felicitating those arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and organising seminars on the JP movement. Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa, incidentally, is named after the law used to send opposition leaders including her father to jail during the Emergency.

BJP president Amit Shah will attend a function at JP’s birthplace Sitabdiara in Saran district. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend a function at Vigyan Bhawan that day; this has not been organised by the party. Last year too, the PM had paid tributes to JP. This time, the grand plan is to appropriate his legacy and emphasise that the BJP’s opponents are people who had cut their political teeth by opposing the Congress but who have now chosen to go with that very party.

The BJP, whose genesis from the Jan Sangh happened after the Emergency, will also recall in its programmes the role played by its former avatar in the JP movement and how many of its tallest leaders, such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani, had been incarcerated during that period.

”We will celebrate the 113th birth anniversary of J P Narayan as Save Democracy Day with a function in every state capital; in fact we are trying to organise a function in every district,” BJP general secretary Arun Singh told The Indian Express.

“The function at Vigyan Bhawan that the PM will attend, though, is being organised by an NGO. We will recall the life and work of JP and his fight against corruption, felicitate those arrested under MISA, recall how draconian measures such as media censorship had an effect on the democratic ethos, and administer an oath to all those who attend the functions to do their utmost to save democracy. The idea essentially is to also recall the Emergency in its 40th year and how it has shaped our democracy.” Union ministers, BJP CMs and other senior functionaries will travel across the country to preside over these functions.

The NDA had in June this year organised a series of functions to commemorate 40 years of the Emergency. “This is a great opportunity for us to make JP our own after Gandhi and Patel,” a senior BJP functionary said.

“Most of the people who emerged from his fight against the Congress have deserted him to ally with the Congress in Bihar, ironically the state JP came from. We already announced a museum last year on his life and times and the PM launched the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.”

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