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Cartoonist arrest: Advani draws parallel with Emergency

September 12, 2012 18:22 IST
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani on Wednesday drew parallels with Emergency while hitting out at the Congress over the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi charged with sedition, but the comparison was dismissed as a "hyperbole" by key National Democratic Alliance ally Janata Dal-United.

Trivedi also got support from Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who opposed the "weak" sedition law. He walked out of jail in Mumbai on Wednesday after being granted bail.

"India has been independent now for sixty five years. 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," Advani said in his blog.

The BJP leader added that while the Emergency had armed the government with extraordinary powers, "the draconian mindset of the present rulers is born out of failure and desperation".

Defending the young cartoonist, the BJP leader said, "Trivedi's sin is that during the Anna movement he published some cartoons which the government regarded as offensive."

JD-U president Sharad Yadav disagreed with Advani's comparison. "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 the media.

"I do not consider it proper to compare the Emergency with everything every now and then," Yadav said.

Yadav, who is also the convener of the NDA, however, said he is an opponent of the Emergency and had gone to jail then. "(Through his cartoons) Trivedi tried to tell the rot in the Parliament and the government charged him with sedition," Thackeray said in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana.

"Trivedi did insult the symbols but that does not justify branding him a traitor and imprisoning him," he said.

 Afzal Guru who attacked the Parliament is enjoying in Tihar jail, Thackeray quipped. "How can you apply the same yardstick for him and Trivedi," he asked.


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