Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday accused the Nehru-Gandhi family of creating an atmosphere of fear in the country whenever they have seen their position in trouble.

He was speaking to Bharatiya Janata Party workers, who observed a ‘black day’ to mark the 43rd anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

“The BJP is not observing a black day to criticise the Congress party, but to raise awareness among the youth about what happened during the Emergency, and to show our commitment to the Constitution,” Modi said in Mumbai. “Today’s youth will not realise how living without freedoms can be.”

“Whenever the Congress or their ‘family’ thinks their position of power is at risk, they tell us that the nation is in trouble and only they can save us,” said Modi. “The country had never expected that people who talk big about democracy and the Constitution would convert India into a prison for their devotion to one family and their lust for power.”

Whoever wanted to save the Constitution during the Emergency was in trouble, Modi said, adding that “everything was done very cleverly, remaining within the limits of the Constitution”.

Later in the day, Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar also criticised the Congress for imposing the Emergency in 1975. The Emergency was imposed to save Indira Gandhi, Prasad said, alleging that it had been planned six months in advance.

Javadekar said: “We will include the whole story of Emergency in the curriculum. Children should know the reality of that time. That is why the Emergency period is considered to be the second freedom struggle.”