Mumbai: Former Union minister Arun Shourie on Sunday said ex-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a “great sense of remorse” for imposing Emergency, but the situation today is “graver” than it was in 1975-77. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s juggernaut can be stopped in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls if the entire Opposition unites and follows the principle of one candidate against the BJP in every seat.
The journalist-turned-politician was addressing a session on ‘Danger within the Judicial System’ at Tata Literature Festival here. “In 1975 (Emergency) there was much better defined opponent. Today there is widespread opponent. I can tell you this, the difference between Gandhi and Narendra Modi is that Gandhi had a great sense of remorse about what she had done,” he said.
“Today, there is no remorse. In Gandhi’s case I feel, in spite of the fact that she put 1,75,000 people in jail, there was a sense of limit…isse aage nahi jana hai (not beyond this point). But today there is no sense of limit,” he added. The Emergency lasted for 19 months, but today there is much more sustained and relentless assault at undermining institutions, Shourie said. “…so I feel the situation now is much more graver than it was in 1975,” he added.
Shourie asserted that opposition unity is key to defeating Modi in 2019. “After all, Modi at the peak of his popularity (in 2014)… how many votes he got? Only 31 per cent. So if the opposition unites, it starts with 69 per cent of the votes,” he said. “In any case the BJP has no presence in the states where regional parties are strong. We should think of the Congress and support the Congress in those places where it is a dominant regional party,” he said.
He added that if the leaders of the other parties don’t agree on the principle of one candidate against a BJP candidate, then people should be approached to teach them a lesson for splitting opposition votes. A former minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, Shourie said people should look within themselves to bring change. “If we’re not prepared to do anything, situation will be the way it is,” he said. He claimed all institutions are under assault, especially during the last four years, and have been destroyed by the “termite” inside them. “Institutions in India, I fear, are hollow,” he said.