New Delhi: Former BBC broadcaster and noted writer Mark Tully has dismissed the claims of the opposition that the current situation in India is very much similar to the Emergency, even as he warned the people of "an atmosphere of fear" that has been created in the country.
In the foreword to the latest edition of the 1977 book "For Reasons of State: Delhi Under Emergency" by John Dayal and Ajoy Bose, Tully looks back at the days of Emergency under the Indira Gandhi regime and terms it as an "illegal act".
"Today, once again, there is a government with an absolute majority and a very powerful Prime Minister dominating his party. This has created an atmosphere of fear. This atmosphere of fear is heightened among certain communities, particularly the Muslims, by the ideology of Hindu extremist groups that appear to have powerful influence on the government…
"However, it would be incorrect to say this is like the Emergency. The Constitution has not been suspended and all the fundamental rights still remain in place. The press has not been censored and Opposition leaders have not been arrested," writes 82-year-old Tully, who has previously authored some fascinating books like "No Full Stops In India" and "India In Slow Motion".
Tully further highlights that as far as the media are concerned, it would again be wrong to compare the present situation to the Emergency.
He also says that there is no sign of any "widespread anger" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi led NDA government but there is, in his own words, increasing signs of disappointment.
"I think if this disappointment is powerfully expressed by the Opposition and sections of the press, people will ask, ‘Narendra Modi promised so much but what has he done, where are the acche din (Good Days) that were supposed to come?'" he adds.
According to the publisher, Penguin Random House India, this widely acclaimed book returns after 41 years with a new thought-provoking Introduction by the authors and an insightful foreword by Tully at a time when the lessons of the Emergency have fresh, contemporary relevance.
"For the perceived threats today, I still believe that there will be no full stops to Indian democracy. After all, the Emergency proved to be only a comma," he writes.
"For Reasons of State", not to be confused with Shashi Tharoor's "Reasons of State" (1981) dealing with almost the same subject, tells the story of the travails of ordinary folk during the 19-month-long Emergency by two young city reporters who had a ringside view of events.