Chennai: Senior BJP leader LK Advani on Sunday said India commands respect in the world community because of its vibrant democracy which was brought to almost the "brink of extinction" during emergency.
"If one reason India commands such respect, it`s because of democracy. But many people don`t know that the ruling party (Congress) once brought it to the brink of extinction and total annihilation, not by error but by purpose," he said at the release of a book written by veteran parliamentarian Era Sezhiyan.
Democracy was the "intangible achievement," of India he said but took on the Congress, which under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had declared emergency in June 1975.
Advani said though India and China have emerged as major economies, it was the former`s democracy which earned it more respect.
"Till about 25 years back, India was not viewed with much respect. Today the situation has changed and India and China are emerging powers. Both are respected for their economic conditions but on democracy, India is respected, not China," he said.
The senior BJP leader recalled that he and party colleague AB Vajpayee among others were arrested from Bangalore after emergency was declared.
However, it was the "strong" feeling of people against emergency, besides Opposition unity, which spelled doom for Gandhi in the subsequent Parliamentary elections in 1977, Advani said.
Opposition fears of "non-political` issues like caste playing an important role in the polls proved to be wrong, he added.
Advani recalled that the Congress could not manage to win a single seat in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, besides losing badly in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and other northern states.
Drawing parallels between 1977 and present day situation, where one issue after another regarding corruption surfaced, the veteran leader said people were "frustrated."
"...while people were frustrated with emergency, the people are frustrated now with the various instances of corruption emerging," Advani said.
"Unko Lakshmi chahiye, Saraswati nahin," he said in a lighter vein, meaning those in power were only after money.