Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday termed the Emergency a "big blot" on India's democracy lambasting it as a period when people's voice was suppressed. Mann mentioned the emergency during his address in the state Assembly, winding up the discussion on the governor's address, on the day the special powers measure completed its 47th year since it was first imposed in the country.
“....Today, there was such a day in India's history, which was a big blot on India's democracy. On this day in 1975, Emergency was imposed in the country when people's voice was suppressed,” he said. As Mann began his address, Congress members started to protest over not being given adequate time to speak and staged a walkout. “Call it a coincidence, those who muzzled people's voice then, their own voices cannot be heard here today,” he said.
The Emergency was imposed by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, for a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977, when the fundamental rights of the people were put under strict curbs. Gandhi lifted the Emergency in 1977 and called for Lok Sabha elections in which the Congress was handed a crushing defeat -- its first-ever since the country's independence in 1947 -- by the combined opposition of the Janata Party.
During his hour-long address, Mann announced bringing of comprehensive law and order reforms as he reiterated his will to eliminate gangster culture from the state. The Chief Minister said that the state government is duty-bound to curb gangster activities in the state. "The need of the hour is to bring comprehensive law and order reforms," he said.
Mann said that the state government will soon introduce a witness protection bill. As the Congress members started to protest over not being given adequate time to speak, the Speaker said that the opposition members had in fact been given more time to speak during discussion on the governor's address. Alleging that they were being short-changed, Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa and other Congress members rushed to the well of the house, while the Chief Minister was on his legs, before marching out. As they were staging a walkout, Mann quipped “Congress' problem is that people don't listen to them outside and over here they don't want to listen.”
The CM, meanwhile, said that the Special Task Force in coordination with district police, Intelligence wing, BSF, Narcotics Control Bureau and other agencies is launching need-based operations to check cross-border smuggling of narcotics and weapons. Thanking the people of Punjab for giving a big mandate to AAP in the Assembly polls, he said, “Let us ensure this revolution of change and good governance reaches every household and every person of Punjab." Discussing the law and order, for which the AAP government has come under fire from the opposition parties, the Chief Minister said that the state government is committed to maintaining law and order at every cost.
He said that a peaceful atmosphere will always prevail in the state and “severest of severe” action will be taken against anyone trying to disturb hard-earned peace. Announcing a “war against drugs”, Mann categorically said that Police have been directed not to spare anyone conniving with the drug mafia. He said that SSPs and police commissioners have been asked to work in close coordination with the STF to catch the “big sharks” involved in the supply of drugs. He said that every Police officer will be held accountable for laxity in dealing with the drug menace within their jurisdiction.
Having capped the pension to one term for former MLAS, Mann said a bill in this regard will be brought in the ongoing budget session of the assembly. The CM had last month announced that former MLAs will now get pension for only one term, doing away with the earlier practice of drawing the benefit for each term served by them, Mann said, “corruption-free governance is at the core of the ethos of our government, which has been duly proved in its actions in the last 100 days”. He said that an anti-corruption helpline was launched within the first few days of his government’s formation, with 29 cases so far been registered and 47 arrests made.
(With PTI Inputs)