Congress cannot preach values, ideology: Sitaraman

Lucknow: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman on Friday taunted the Congress saying that a party that muzzled freedom in the country during the emergency should not preach to the BJP on democracy.

Speaking at the party headquarters here on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Foundation Day, the Minister told reporters that people still remember the days when the media was gagged and political leaders were put behind bars.

The then President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, had declared an emergency under Article 352 of the constitution. It was in effect from June 25, 1975 till March 21, 1977.

The order bestowed on the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be suspended and civil liberties to be curbed.

For much of the emergency, most of Gandhi’s political opponents were imprisoned and the press was censored.

“Congress is in a state of shock and it is out of these that words like ideology are coming from them,” Sitharaman said and added that it was strange and ironical that a party which gave birth to dictatorship in the country was talking of “values and ideology”.

Speaking on the proposed defence corridor in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, she said that bringing employment and investment to the impoverished region was a big challenge and the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was committed to making it happen.

“Very soon detailed discussions will be held with the Chief Minister and things will be taken forward with regards to this project,” she said. She also lauded the hard work of the party leaders and relentless toil of the workers.