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Punjab Vidhan Sabha
Memories of Emergency echo
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 25
As bitter memories of the Emergency, which was imposed on this day in 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, today echoed in the Punjab assembly, the main opposition, the Congress, did not react strongly on the issue.

Congress MLAs protested only when BJP minister Tikshan Sud got up to support what had been said earlier by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the issue of Emergency.

After question hour in the house, Badal got up to make a suo motu statement with regard to the Emergency. He urged “constant vigilance against some subterranean dictatorial tendencies in our polity” to prevent the recurrence of the traumatic experience of the days of the Emergency in 1975.

Strong needling of the Congress in the house by Badal on the issue of Emergency was not expected by anyone today. Only on May 22 Badal had praised Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for giving clearance to 49 per cent investment by Laxmi Mittal in the Bathinda oil refinery. And there was no provocation from the Congress to Badal on any issue in the house.

Speaking on the Emergency, Badal also said “those levelling baseless charges of vendetta and violation of democratic and human rights in Punjab" should do some serious soul-searching on the issue and categorically oppose any relapse into draconian tendencies within their own parties.

“There is need also to reawaken the spirit with which the country had fought against the most serious challenge to its democracy. Many of those now talking about democracy and human rights in Punjab were in fact a party to the decision to rob the country of these very rights and values,” said Badal.

The Chief Minister reiterated the commitment of his party and the SAD-BJP government in Punjab to safeguard the democratic rights and human liberties of each and every citizen in the state. In reference to what he described as “a brazen assault on democratic values in the country in the form of Emergency”, Badal said that Punjabis had to bear the brunt of this assault.

He recalled how the party waged a long and almost lonely battle against the draconian measures under the Emergency and said the morcha from the precincts of Harmandar Sahib would always remain a distinctive milestone in the march of democracy and human rights in the country.

Minister Sud said besides Akali activists, the then Jan Sangh and the RSS had also fought against the Emergency and their activists were jailed.

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