Our great nation has had its fair share of ups, and downs in its 70 plus years' democratic journey. The optimism of Independence and fervour of nation-building eventually ran its course over time; one family running the nation for decades first met resistance in 1966 over the issue of succeeding the late Lal Bahadur Shastri as the Prime Minister. Moraji Desai resisted, but Indira Gandhi got her way. She became the nation's darling after the liberation of Bangladesh following victory in the 1971 war against our noisy neighbors. What got overshadowed amidst the patriotic tsunami post-war was the huge underlying issues that were on the verge of crippling the entire nation. Huge military expenditure and its subsequent impact on other issues, surging poverty, nationwide law, and order situation slowly going out of hand, autocratic functioning of the government, Sanjay's rising influence sans any sort of accountability. Those who applauded the mother-son duo were rewarded. Those who spoke out against their reckless abuse of power and authority were reprimanded or marginalized.
As with all things in life, everything has a shelf life. In the same manner, Indira's popularity had run its course by the end of 1974. All leaders accept/learn to accept ups and downs in their political journeys. Indira's problem was that she believed in her hype and once leaders believe in their hype, what follows is usually dark. By 1975, the issues facing the nation had finally outgrown her popularity. What followed remains perhaps the darkest chapter in our country's post Independence journey.
The rising protests(led by JP) and opposition criticism reached their peak by mid-1975. The Raj Narain Verdict (which declared her election to the Lok Sabha null and void) was the tipping point. Fearing she was losing grip over her unchecked power and authority, she hastily declared a state of emergency, citing "internal disturbance" under Article 352 of the Indian constitution. The mother-son duo practically ran the nation; they were judge, jury, and executioner.
The emergency revealed the true nature and intentions of the mother and son
Many of the opposition leaders of the time were imprisoned, including Vajpayee, Advani, Jaitley, Desai, and others. To avoid being arrested, our present Prime Minister went into hiding. The government banned organizations like RSS. Amidst the doom and gloom, the heroic defiance of our party's leaders stood out. They could not just stand by and watch the values and principles (on which our great nation was founded), being ridiculed by an individual who had lost touch with reality.
Unimaginable things happened during this dark chapter; Sanjay's forced sterilization programs, outright abuse, disregard of Human rights, forced arrests of individuals without charges, arrests, and torture of political prisoners, destruction of low-income housing in the national capital.
The defiance of our leaders and their subsequent victory in the elections after the emergency is a testament to the lessons learned by the people of India i.e. it is paramount for the common man to remind leaders of their duties and boundaries in a democracy.
After a night comes the dawn
The emergency era and the subsequent struggles taught our BJP and its leaders' important lessons; which they followed in their actions and vision post the founding of our party in 1980. Our party kept growing over time and, by 1996, it became the single largest party in parliament and, the rest is history.
Reckless, irresponsible opposition
What the emergency has taught us, and what the years preceding up to it have taught us, is that the so-called "great old party" has always thrived and continues to thrive on exploiting several crises to mask their shortcomings and deceive the public. The Congress party's behavior since the pandemic reached India is a classic example of that.
The exposure of their toolkits, constant criticism of those fighting the battle against the pandemic, creating confusion amongst the public over vaccines, etc have again brought out their true colors to the public domain. It just reaffirms what we have always known i.e. the Congress will go to any lengths, use any situation (regardless of the consequences) for political mileage. Now, it is a political party desperate to stay relevant through any means. But the sad thing is that in this desperation, they have forgotten that national duty and being loyal to the nation's cause comes above anything else. In hindsight, such reckless behavior from Congressmen is hardly surprising as it is the only political party that sees a 51-year-old "prince" as a youth icon. The hysteria they have manufactured over the indigenous vaccines (something we as Indians ought to be proud of) and the central role they have played in the attempts to portray India as a failed state amidst a humanitarian crisis shows the level of thought process they operate on now. Nothing can be more anti-India than this.
Indians might forgive, but they will never forget. History won't be kind to those who played politics while the rest of the nation was fighting a global pandemic.
Forty-Six years ago, India entered its darkest phase because of one family's inability to accept reality. It taught us many lessons.
Similarly, a global pandemic has taught us many lessons. It has taught us that Congress still believes in its hype and will go to any lengths to preserve that delusion.
(M. Asnikumar Singh is a former State General Secretary, Vice President, and presently a Spokesperson of BJP, Manipur Pradesh.)
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