New Delhi: The internal Emergency imposed in 1975 was the "biggest blow" to Indian democracy, but it also led to the birth of a new political generation in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, as he paid tributes to Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan on his birth anniversary.
The prime minister also paid tribute to Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader and social activist Nanaji Deshmukh: "On his birth anniversary, my tributes to the great Nanaji Deshmukh."
Modi also met ailing former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former union minister George Fernandes on the occasion.
The political generation that emerged during the Emergency was fully dedicated to the democratic values, inspired by J.P., as Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan was popularly called, the prime minister said in his speech at the Loktantra Prahari Abhinandan to mark the 113th birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan at Vigyan Bhavan here.
"Emergency made a huge dent; it was a setback for India's democratic tradition. But at times, goodness comes out of the bad," Modi said.
"The J.P. movement, the anti-corruption movement, the fight against Emergency after 25 years of Independence was an occasion... Today, the people in political life in India, most of them, are those who were born out of the Emergency," he said.
Modi said that J.P. had the capacity to get some positivity out of the Emergency.
"Emergency should be remembered not to brood over what happened then, but to strenghten our resolve to fortify and further strengthen the democratic values and framework in our country," he said.
Modi took a jibe at the then prime minister Indira Gandhi and said: "Indira was conscious about what was her image internationally; I think she was just not concerned what her image at home was like... We decided to tell the world. Kedarnath Sahni was coordinating it in the beginning...."
The prime minister said Indian democracy became stronger after the Emergency.
"I don't want to cry about Emergency. We must remember Emergency and recognise the power of democracy... make future generations aware of it. It is the demand of the times," he said.
Later, the prime minister tweeted: "The programme to mark JP's birth anniversary was a great walk down the memory lane, with those who participated in anti-Emergency movement."