Mumbai: Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for raking up the Emergency, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday said “contribution” of former premier Indira Gandhi for the country cannot be ignored just because of her 1975 decision.
He also said that Gandhi was “pro-democracy” as she called for elections in 1977 after lifting Emergency which she lost. In his weekly column in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, Raut said it would be “treason” to reject the contribution of national leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, BR Ambedkar, Netaji Bose and Veer Savarkar.
“Nobody else performed so greatly in this country like (late) Indira Gandhi did. Her one decision of Emergency cannot wash away her contribution. It is a treason to reject the contribution of Pandit Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Dr Ambedkar, Netaji Bose and Veer Savarkar. Every government has to take some practical decision as per the situation. Who will decide what is wrong and right? Emergency ought to be forgotten,” Raut said.
He said, “If the day when the Emergency was proclaimed by (then prime minister) India Gandhi is to be called ‘Black Day’, then there were many such ‘black days’ under the Central government. The day demonetisation was announced should also be called ‘Black Day’, as it created the economic anarchy.”
Raut said many poor people lost their jobs for some days due to the note ban under which bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations were banned from circulation in November 2016. “Small traders incurred heavy losses. The cash with rich people turned ‘white’. Prime Minister had claimed that the note ban will bring out the black money, however, instead of black money coming out many people died while standing in queues,” he said.
Raut said the BJP government’s promise that violence in Jammu and Kashmir would end has turned out to be hollow. “It was also said that violence in Kashmir will be ended. But, on the other hand, the violence in Kashmir has gone up. A bank, where BJP national president Amit Shah is one of the directors, received old notes of Rs 575 crore within five days from the announcement of the scrapping of the high value notes,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
He said the economy has not yet been recovered fully from the demonetisation impact. “The freedom of press was suppressed during the Emergency. Whatever is happening now a days is not different from the four-decade old emergency. During the Emergency, BJP leader LK Advani was put behind the bars. Today, (former prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee is bed-ridden and Advani could not say anything. There are others who have now become mute. Have they become so on their own?” Raut asked.
In a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sena leader said, “Only those who suffered like George Fernades during the Emergency have the right to speak against the measure. Fernandes not only went to jail but he was trying to attempt a revolutionary plan to topple authoritarian regime of Indira Gandhi”.
The Shiv Sena leader also taunted Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who had given a critical speech on 26 June on the 43rd anniversary of the Emergency in Mumbai, ahead of the prime minister. “Those who were not even born or were not even toddlers are today talking against Emergency and late Indira Gandhi. I am not a supporter or opponent of emergency. Even late Balasaheb Thackeray had supported the Emergency saying ‘if is makes the country more disciplined, then emergency is needed’. Despite that the printing press run by Thackeray was sealed during the emergency. It is a kind of sacrifice but Thackeray never sought credit for it or demanded pension,” Raut said.
Raut said that in the earlier days of Emergency, all types of mafias, local goons and extortionists had been arrested which was appreciated by people. “During the Emergency period, civil servants started attending office on time. There was over activity in implementing mass sterilisation. Compulsory family planning of Muslims has been the agenda of Sangh Pariwar,” he said. He said underworld dons like Haji Mastan, Kareem lala, Yusuf Patel and Varada Rajan were sent to jail during the Emergency.
“In contrast today, people like Nirav Modi and (Mehul) Choksi, both accused in the Punjab National Bank scam, and Vijay Mallya have fled the country after looting it,” Raut said. Claiming that RBI governor is being treated like a “puppet”, Raut referred to nationalisation of banks by Indira Gandhi who he said protected money of the common people through the move. “Today, Reserve Bank’s governor was treated as puppet and note ban was imposed. Many think that media owners and editors should bend down on their knees and speak,” he said.
Raut said, “Modi thinks that there is some conspiracy being hatched against him. Indira Gandhi had thought the same. The country was in economic crisis after 1971 war of Bangladesh independence. She expected the Opposition to help her in such situation. It was not wrong but the Opposition decided to take advantage of such crisis”.
Seeking to draw a parallel between Modi and Gandhi, Raut said the PM’s security has been increased in view of some “threats” to his life whereas Gandhi didn’t pay heed to warnings by the intelligence agencies about some Sikh security guards and got killed in 1984.
“Language of (socialist leader) Jayprakash Narayan was also instigating in those days. He had appealed to the Army and police officials to not follow the orders of the government. Fernandes had used railway strike as a weapon. Then Railway minister Lalit Narayan Mishra was killed in a blast while judges and other ministers were also attacked,” Raut said referring to the turmoil ahead of the Emergency.
He said Gandhi imposed the Emergency as she wanted to save the country from turning chaotic. “However, she was pro-democracy and hence she faced the elections after a couple of years and witnessed defeat. However, people re-elected her. If the day of her political defeat is to be celebrated as ‘Vijay Diwas’, then should her re-election be taken as ‘black day’?” he asked.
Raut said Modi and the BJP are repeatedly targetting the Gandhis’ because they are still afraid of the “skeleton” called Congress which could not win even 50 seats in the 2014 polls. “This is a sign of the weak mind. The government should talk about development and not about the Emergency which was proclaimed in 1975,” he said.