Can’t say that Emergency Won’t Happen Again: LK Advani

Ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Emergency, Advani said that he didn’t have the confidence it won’t happen again

2 min read
Senior BJP leader LK Advani has claimed that he doesn’t believe the Emergency couldn’t happen again. (Photo: Reuters)

One would hardly have thought that the 40th anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency would give rise to such a political hotbed of comments. But clearly, senior BJP leader LK Advani believes such a situation might arise again.

Striking a note of caution in an interview with The Indian Express, Advani said: “At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger.”

Strongly believing that India’s political system is yet to come to terms with the Emergency (which happened on June 25, 1975) and the ensuing horrors, Advani warned against complacency.

I don’t think anything has been done that gives me the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again. Not at all. Of course, no one can do it easily… But that it cannot happen again — I will not say that. It could be that fundamental liberties are curtailed again.
– LK Advani, Senior BJP Leader

Advani reiterated throughout the interview that he believes India to still be vulnerable to an Emergency-like situation. When asked why he thought so, he put it down to “weaknesses” in the political leadership.

Today, I do not say that the political leadership is not mature. But kamiyon ke karan, vishwas nahin hota (I don’t have faith because of its weaknesses). I don’t have the confidence that it (Emergency) cannot happen again.
– LK Advani, Senior BJP Leader

The founding father of the BJP struck a particularly worrisome note when he said that the Emergency during Indira Gandhi’s time had happened despite constitutional safeguards in place. There were hardly enough safeguards of such nature today, Advani insisted.

LK Advani also desisted from throwing a bone to the media, which is usually seen as a voice of resistance against authoritarianism. Instead, he advocated a ‘wait and watch’ policy.

The media is more independent today – but does it have a real commitment to democracy and civil liberties – I don’t know. It is something that must be put to the test.
– LK Advani, Senior BJP Leader

Civil society had raised hopes during the Anna mobilisation against corruption – only to disappoint, Advani rued. In fact, the only system he set any store by in the current political scenario was the judiciary.

Of the various institutions that are to be held responsible for a well functioning democracy in India today, the judiciary is more responsible than the others.
– LK Advani, Senior BJP Leader

The Emergency from Advani’s Point of View...

What is interesting to recall, in the context of the interview, is that Advani – along with other senior BJP leaders – could only look at the Emergency with an understandable bias.

The erstwhile Janata Party – which led to the formation of the present Bharatiya Janata Party – was formed by political leaders and activists of various parties who were united in opposing the Emergency. Leaders like Morarji Desai, Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee were arrested during the Emergency imposed by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Morarji later went on to become the Prime Minister of India, Advani became the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Vajpayee became the Foreign Minister.

This picture on Twitter says it all:

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