NEW DELHI -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi today termed the Emergency, imposed in 1975, as the biggest blow to democracy and said its memories should be kept alive to draw lessons to further fortify the democratic framework and values in the country.
"Emergency was the biggest blow to democracy. The kind of crisis that hit the country during that period had tempered the Indian democracy which came out stronger. I am grateful to those who struggled and fought against it. ...
"Emergency should be remembered not to brood over what had happened then, but to strengthen our resolve to fortify and further strengthen the democratic values and framework in our country," Modi said at the programme 'Loktantra Ke Prahari' where he also felicitated many of those who fought against Emergency and went to jail in 1975-76.
Paying glowing tributes to the Loknayak on his 113th birth anniversary at the function, he said Narayan was "an institution, he was a light house and a role model" and "a new political generation was born during the Emergency that was fully dedicated to democratic values, inspired by JP."
"The biggest message that came out of the anti-Emergency struggle was the inspiration to fight repression. So many people in politics today owe their initial days to those days of Emergency, JP Movement, Navnirman Movement ... they gave birth to a new kind of politics in the nation," the Prime Minister said.
Observing that the struggle by Jayaprakash Narayan for democracy should be taken as a benchmark, he said his speeches reflected the "deep anguish" of the people who suffered during Emergency. "Even though he was a soft-spoken man, his speeches were like the boiling lava."
Earlier, the Prime Minister also visited the residences of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former NDA Convenor George Fernandes who had played a significant role in the fight for democracy in those days.
Among those who were felicitated at the function were veteran BJP leader L K Advani, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal, four Governors -- Kalyan Singh, O P Kohli, Balram Dass Tandon and Valubhai Vala, former Deputy Speaker Kariya Munda, besides BJP leaders V K Malhotra, Jaywantiben Mehta and Subramanian Swamy.
NCP leader D P Tripathi, journalists Virender Kapoor and K Vikram Rao, Prof Ramji Singh, Kameshwar Paswan and Arif Baig were also honoured by Modi.