The Emergency Was Not Just An Event; It Was A Mindset That's Still Prevalent

Ananth Krishna S

Jun 25, 2024, 05:03 PM | Updated 05:20 PM IST

If intolerance for political rivals wasn’t enough, there is also a marked antipathy for Hindu culture.
If intolerance for political rivals wasn’t enough, there is also a marked antipathy for Hindu culture.
  • A real ‘undeclared’ emergency might just be an election result away.
  • Since the historic results of the 2014 general election, the liberal commentariat has thrown around the words 'undeclared emergency' to describe the supposedly ‘fascist’ National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led government.

    However, a resurgent opposition has indicated in more ways than one that the Congress party and its fellow ideological travellers are never far from indulging in what they accuse the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of. 

    The hounding of Ajeet Bharti, a pro-Hindutva journalist, offers an insight into the intentions of the Congress-aligned ecosystem.

    Police from Congress-ruled Karnataka reached Bharti's residence in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, on the pretext of handing him an 'official letter’, only to be publicly ridiculed by a vigilant Bharti and Noida police.

    One can imagine the plight of Bharti, whose writings the opposition doesn’t agree with, if Uttar Pradesh were being ruled by the Congress or its ally, the Samajwadi Party (SP).

    The fact that Congress leader and India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the one who brought the first amendment curbing freedom of speech offers a peek into the mindset of the Congress’ intelligentsia.

    In 1951, it was Romesh Thapar’s Seminar of communist inclinations and later the pro-Hindutva Organiser that miffed the thin-skinned Congress, which is averse to any kind of criticism when in power.

    In 2024, dozens of social media accounts and a variety of news websites outside of the Congress’ control expose the party.

    As freedom of speech declines, violence takes its place. One would expect a democratic politician to condone acts of violence, no matter which side is on the receiving end.

    This would be expected more so from Congress’ de facto chief, Rahul Gandhi, whose father and grandmother were assassinated in the most violent way possible.

    However, the same Gandhi refuses to condemn the act of an unknown miscreant throwing slippers at Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi.

    The fact that he encouraged it by citing fearlessness on the part of the thrower is reflective of the ideological intolerance being served in the Mohabbat Ki Dukan he pitches while taking a jibe at the ruling government.

    If utter intolerance for political rivals wasn’t enough, there is also a marked antipathy for Hindu culture.

    Members of the Congress-led INDI Alliance termed 'Sanatana', a name for the Hindu faith, a deadly disease to be eradicated. Except for perfunctory remarks, no unequivocal condemnation came from the Congress.

    That is why it is not a surprise that when the Stalin government proposed anti-Hindu measures disguised as social justice reforms, the Congress chose to maintain a studied silence.

    If the recommendations of Justice Chandru (appointed by the Stalin government) are accepted, kalawa (coloured wristbands), rings, and tilak (a forehead mark worn by Hindus) will be banned from schools in Tamil Nadu.

    Moving from schools to the streets, the Communal Violence Bill proposed by the Congress when it was in power as the head of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) practically deemed Hindus as rioters by default.

    Thanks to the Congress intelligentsia, the idea of a communal violence bill has made a comeback with a new name: "Manav Suraksha Kanoon" (MASUKA).

    There was an effort to build momentum in its favour in 2017-18, but it died down, thanks to a fierce counter to the blatant misuse of state authority proposed in the draft bill.

    This was the state of affairs when they were out of power. However, it was not a fluke. By raking up such discriminatory ideas, a politician gauges the extent to which they need power to impose such laws on the public.

    The 1970s were the first time the Congress faced an organised opposition, and at scale at that. And what was the response? A state of national emergency was declared on the frivolous pretext that its political opponents were planning to cause chaos in the country.

    On such flimsy grounds, freedom of speech was curbed. An emergency where thinking differently from the Congress-led government virtually became a crime.

    Even the judiciary, whose independence is guaranteed by the Constitution of India, wasn’t insulated from the Congress’ witchhunt during the emergency.

    Judges who took a contrary stance to that of the government were promptly transferred to far-off locations, while attorneys who approached courts seeking relief for clients being implicated in false cases were hounded.

    Notably, while the Congress of today complains about the BJP-led NDA breaking parliamentary traditions and norms, Indira Gandhi during the emergency broke one of the most important norms, that of seniority, by superseding the three seniormost judges in the Supreme Court to appoint Justice A N Ray as the Chief Justice of India.

    The high-handedness of Indira Gandhi did not stop there. After Justice Ray's tenure came to an end in 1977, the Congress again asserted itself to supersede Justice H R Khanna, who was one of the three judges superseded when Justice Ray became the Chief Justice of India, and appointed Justice M H Beg as Justice Ray’s successor.

    To the Congress, Justice Khanna was a thorn in the side, as he was the sole dissenting voice in the landmark ADM Jabalpur versus Shivkant Shukla case.

    Given that it has now become next to impossible for the party to control or influence the judiciary, Congress supporters have resorted to public ridicule of the courts.

    Justice Bela Trivedi and a few others are being targeted merely on the grounds that politically sensitive cases are being given to them and not to the senior judges that the critics admire.

    Silent support of violence against ideological opponents and a lack of even-handedness while dealing with matters of faith and caste are indications that a real ‘undeclared’ emergency might just be an election result away.

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