JD-U president Sharad Yadav today disagreed with BJP leader L K Advani's remarks on cartoonist Aseem Trivedi's arrest drawing parallels with the Emergency, saying the comparison was a "hyperbole".
"This is a hyperbole. The Freedom of Expression was put to real threat during the Emergency when the media was muzzled and 1.5 lakh persons including politicians were jailed. One has to really wonder what is it that was not banned during the Emergency. To compare it with any other thing, in my opinion, is injustice," he told reporters.
Yadav at the same time said the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra acted "foolish" in the episode as seen in the decision to arrest the cartoonist on treason charges, which was not required because there is a law to deal with it.
"How can you say this was treason? Trivedi is young and did something out of enthusiasm," he said.
"To urinate in open is prohibited at many places. But will you jail all those who come from villages and are found doing it," he asked. The JD-U President said he had taken up Trivedi's matter with Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil.
Yadav, who is also the convener of the NDA, said though he is an opponent of the Emergency and had gone to jail then, but "the fact is also that Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister of the country showed exemplary courage in tackling the Punjab problem and during the Bangladesh War."
"I do not consider it proper to compare Emergency with everything every now and then," Yadav said.
The JD-U President was replying to media queries on the post by Advani in his blog.
Advani posted in his blog, "I have always regarded the Emergency period 1975-77 as the worst in so far as suppression of civil liberties and freedom of expression were concerned. But seeing what has happened to political cartoonist and anti-corruption crusader Aseem Trivedi, I have started wondering is today's political set up worse even than the Emergency?"
Yadav also maintained that he is in disagreement with Advani's pitch for state funding of elections.
"Many people are demanding state funding of elections. Advani has been speaking a lot about it. But in my opinion, there is no need for any state funding. After all it is the people's money, which will be given to the parties through state funding. For how many things people will pay," Yadav said.
The JD-U president also criticised the Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch, which released a report on the income of 23 major parties.
"Why did they not show what is the income of our party JD-U? That could have made it clear to the people of India that there are also political parties, which are functioning with minimum resources," Yadav said.
He said more than fifty per cent of the income of political parties is being spent on media. He said election expenditure is low in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. "Why to focus only on bad things? That does no good to democracy. If there are some positive aspects, they should also be highlighted".
Yadav downplayed the remarks of former BJP leader Govindacharya that the JD-U President can also be a Prime Ministerial candidate for the NDA.
"I am not a person who will be ecstatic by hearing such things. He (Govindacharya) is a good person and is giving his opinion like many others. But one has to always remember that the Lok Sabha constitutes of 545 members.
"There are many in past who tossed their names in the Prime Ministerial race and so are many doing now. A number of people keep singing 'make me Prime Minister' just to win in their respective states," Yadav said.