Rahul da Cunha: What's the Emergency?

Updated: Jul 01, 2018, 07:23 IST | Rahul Da Cunha

The memory is hazy, but all I know is that it was my birthday - June 24. The next day I woke up to this changed India

Rahul da Cunha: What's the Emergency?
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaSo, I was 13 when Mrs Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency. June 25, 1975 it was. The memory is hazy, but all I know is that it was my birthday - June 24. The next day I woke up to this changed India. Habeas Corpus was suspended, freedom of speech was curtailed. I was told, opposition leaders had been jailed. For a year-and-half, this 'black period' in our history lasted.

And then a coalition was formed. I knew of this political co-existence because my maternal grandfather was a part of it. HM Patel was his name and he went on to become Finance Minister in PM Morarji Desai's Janata Government.

In grandad's Delhi home, I recall him chatting with a young Atal Behari Vajpayee of the Jana Sangh and George Fernandes of the Janata Dal. Sadly, the union of these stalwarts didn't last and Mrs Gandhi was back in 1980, apologetic, and ready for a fresh round of governance. It was the same year that Vajpayeeji formed the BJP.

Cut to 2018 and we are a year away from a crucial general elections. Last Monday, June 25, the 1975 Emergency reared its ugly head - as the NDA brought it back as I'm guessing as its stage 1 of its pre-election platform. They called it the 'darkest day in the history of Indian democracy'. And I'm thinking, no, how can this be possible.

Dudes, your election platform is something that happened 43 years ago? How can a lady - dead for 34 years - really be the monkey on your back? Is Rahul really a threat? How can his grandmother, rise from her grave to haunt you? Every time you take pot shots like this it reminds us of an opposition. Guys, what has the Congress done of note for you to remind us that they exist? And BJP spin doctors, you suggested this?

Why not reinforce the good stuff you've done in your four year regime so far, na? Worse was to follow. Having stoked the hornet's nest, Ahmed Patel, Sonia's trusted aide, hit back with 'a tweet - 'Will they apologise for the undeclared emergency for the last 4 years? People are being lynched and threatened, agencies are being misused, economic and civil liberties are being curtailed.'

The BJP responded by calling Aurangzeb, a 'Congress Idol'! And I'm saying, everyone grow up a little - because no one is interested in this political pettiness - engage in this kind of bar room brawling on your own time and instead tell us, individually, what are both sides promising - what are your 'Obamacare' equivalents? Seriously. Because I'm a little spooked by the India I'm living in. Not a single thing has happened in the last fourteen years for me to jump up and down and yell, "Yay!"

Not saying this is a country in ruin. But morals and ethics have taken a beating. I mean, when a Union Minister for External Affairs is trolled brutally, you begin to wonder. I'm just saying, dear politicians, all of you, don't take my patience for granted. These are emergency times.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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