Advani hits out at Cong for arrest of cartoonist

New Delhi: Senior BJP leader L K Advani today hit out at Congress over the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi while drawing parallels with Emergency and alleged that the “draconian mindset” of the present rulers is born out of “failure and desperation”.

“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.

Recalling that legendary cartoonist Abu Abraham had published cartoons relating to signing of documents relating to Emergency and on Indira Gandhi’s 20-point programme soon after the Emergency was declared, Advani noted, “If the present political regime had been in office in 1975-77, I have no doubt that like Aseem Trivedi, Abu Abraham also would have been behind bars!”

The BJP leader added that while 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 that “Trivedi?s sin is that during the Anna movement he published some cartoons which Government regarded as offensive.”

“Trivedi has been arrested, and charged with sedition, an offence punishable with life imprisonment! Trivedi was arrested in Mumbai last week for cartoons he had drawn and displayed in November 2011,” Advani said.

Referring to notings from his diary while he was detained under MISA during Emergency days, Advani has talked about the winding up of the only cartoon weekly of the country at that time – Shankar’s Weekly.

The BJP leader also quoted an editorial of the weekly on August 31, 1975 when it was closed down.

“Dictatorships cannot afford laughter because people may laugh at the dictator, and that would not do. In all the years of (Adolf) Hitler, there never was a good comedy, not a good cartoon, not a parody, not a spoof,” Advani quoted Shankar as saying in the editorial.