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Hashtag Politics | Emergency tweetstorm, fireworks put Cong in dock, draw parallels with BJP

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in a Hindi tweet that on that fateful day in 1975, the Congress “snatched the constitutional rights of every Indian overnight” imposing the Emergency.

The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signs the book ‘Eternal India’ written by her, in New Delhi on October 6, 1980. (Express archive photo)

June 25 marked the 47th anniversary of the Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, that went on for 21 months. To mark the occasion, several non-Congress leaders took to social media to flag the Emergency’s dark period when the constitutional rights of the citizens had been subverted in the country.

The discourse, however, also saw new strands being added to the conversation, from comments about the current “threats” to democracy to allegations that the Congress’s “fascist” tendencies “supported non-state actors to file concocted cases against the then (2002) Guj (arat) CM (Modi)” .

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in a Hindi tweet that on that fateful day in 1975, the Congress “snatched the constitutional rights of every Indian overnight” imposing the Emergency, adding that he salutes “all the patriots” who fought against the “tanashahi” or misrule.

Sharing a video, BJP national president JP Nadda said: “The planned and systematic destruction of our country’s democratic institutions during the dark days of the Emergency by the Congress party will never be forgotten. Today we remember the great heroes who fought to protect Indian democracy and Constitutional values.”

While leaders looked back on the time when constitutional rights were under severe threat, parallels were also drawn to the current BJP rule.

Kerala Chief Minister and CPI(M) stalwart Pinarayi Vijayan, for instance, while talking about the “The dark days of National #Emergency which threatened our democracy and suspended our civil liberties,” also added that “today our constitution, democracy and secularism face severe threats. It is time to step up our vigil”.

Attacking the BJP-led central government, Samajwadi Party chief and ex-UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, in a statement, charged that the threat of an “undeclared emergency” loomed over the country today and that the “murder of democracy is continuing” even in “Amrit Kaal”.

“On the one hand, there is commitment to democratic, secular and socialist values, while on the other there is dictatorship of the monopoly, fascist mindset. In keeping with the basic spirit of the Constitution, the tendencies which obstruct the protection of civil rights and prevention of the division of society have to be curbed,” he said.

This vein of discussion also found an echo among the BJP leaders, who claimed that the times now were vastly different from 1975.

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sharma said: “Emergency 1975, this day! Reminds us of the horrors and the darkest days of democracy in India. Those who cry hoarse, and desperately concoct stories of democracy at risk, should flip through pages of history.”

The current Congress also figured in the discourse, with BJP leaders finding alleged similarities between its state and the party during the Emergency.

Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya shared clips of a speech he made at a Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha event on Twitter, accusing Sanjay Gandhi of being “the key mastermind behind unjustness across the country” who had “abused constitutional powers”. He added: “30 years later, Sonia Gandhi replicated the same through the post of UPA chairperson”.

Kiren Rijiju, the Union minister of law and justice, said: “Congress should ask for forgiveness from the country for the murder of democracy and their crime against humanity”.

Punjab CM and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann, in his address in the Punjab Assembly, said: “Call it a coincidence, those who muzzled people’s voice then, their own voices cannot be heard here today.” As Mann began his address, the Congress members started to protest over not being given adequate time to speak and staged a walkout.

The arrests of activist Teesta Setalvad and Gujarat ex-DGP BR Sreekumar on Saturday — a day after the Supreme Court upheld the Special Investigation Team (SIT)’s clean chit to then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots — also became a talking point on the Emergency on social media.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a series of nine tweets, tried to make a case for how the Congress “fascist tendencies continued to the 21st Century”.

Her first tweet stated: “The darkest period of India’s history post 1947 was endured for 21 months beginning this day in 1975. The fascist tendencies in the @INCIndia led by the then PM Smt. Indira Gandhi unleashed rule of terror by putting the entire opposition in prison.”

She subsequently launched an attack on the Congress, to argue that the party allegedly had an agenda to frame PM Modi in the Gujarat riots.

She said: “Instead of working to get justice for karsevaks burnt alive (women & children, in particular)in #Godhra, these tendencies supported non-state actors to file concocted cases against the then Guj CM (Modi)”

In a subsequent tweet, she said that “Multiple cases in various courts were filed” and that “for over 16 years” the cases were “relentlessly pursued with the zeal of well funded #NGOs”.

Sitharaman even quoted portions of the apex court’s verdict to say that testimonies given by “Sanjiv Bhatt, Haren Pandya and also of R.B. Sreekumar was only to sensationalise and politicise the matters in issue, although, replete with falsehood”.

She also suggested that “media reports” of the time talk of “disgruntled officials” who “were actively supported by the then Delhi Durbar(a reference to the Congress that was in power at the time),” adding: “These “disgruntled officials” served as poster boys who received all kinds of support from the corridors of power in Delhi, then”.

In her final tweet she spoke of Modi joining the SIT questioning for “nine hours”. She  concluded: “@PMOIndia @narendramodi is a leader who respects rule of law & leads by being an example”.

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(With inputs from PTI)

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First published on: 26-06-2022 at 09:01:34 pm
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