Saturday, June 22, 2024

How did RJD leader Misa Bharti get her name from an emergency-era draconian law?

In the political landscape of Pataliputra, Bihar, Misa Bharti, an INDIA alliance candidate in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, carries a name with significant historical weight.

Her father, one of the country’s top socialist politicians and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, named her after the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), a draconian law used during the Emergency in India from 1975 to 1977 to arrest political dissenters.

Lalu Prasad Yadav himself was detained under this act, and Misa was born while he was in prison, symbolizing a form of protest against the oppressive regime of that time.

The MISA was a draconian law passed by the Indian parliament in 1971 giving the administration of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Indian law enforcement agencies very broad powers – indefinite preventive detention of individuals, search and seizure of property without warrants, and wiretapping – in the quelling of civil and political disorder in India, as well as countering foreign-inspired sabotage, terrorism, subterfuge and threats to national security. The law was amended several times during the subsequently declared national emergency (1975–1977) and used for quelling political dissent. Finally it was repealed in 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the election and the Janata Party came to power.

This unique backstory is not just a personal family anecdote but also a piece of political heritage that resonates with many in Bihar. Misa Bharti’s campaign in Pataliputra is deeply intertwined with her father’s legacy as a leader who stood up against authoritarianism. The voters in Pataliputra say that her name serves as a constant reminder of her family’s fight for democratic values and justice.

“Earlier, it was MISA, now it’s UAPA, Sedition, ED, NIA. It’s a reminder that no power, not even Modi’s, could defeat us with these tools,” Azad Hind, a voter in Pataliputra, said to Maktoob.

“Lalu was a victim of these laws. He was falsely implicated and jailed. No, he is a fighter,” says Munir Ahmed, a voter in the constituency who works in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk.

However, Misa, an RJD Rajya Sabha member, have lost a total of 3 times in Bihar’s Pataliputra. Now, she is facing incumbent BJP MP Ram Kripal Yadav for the third time since 2014.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Lalu Prasad Yadav himself contested Pataliputra seat, losing to his former ally, Ranjan Prasad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United).

The constituency goes to vote on 1 June.

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