#43yearsofEmergency: Here are some interesting facts about the event
It has been 43 years since the day when Indian politics witnessed one of the darkest phases when the strongest Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared an emergency across the country. We have heard it from our parents describing it as the worst 2 years of India since the British left. Memories of Emergency are still refreshed in the minds of people who have witnessed it. When black and white clips in the news channels showing people protesting on roads, apparently asking for their rights to be restored. ‘The Emergency’ spanning for 21 months came in to effect from June 25, 1975, and lasted until March 21, 1977. It was officially announced by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the constitution for ‘internal disturbance’.
What exactly Emergency means?
‘The Emergency’ is the term used to describe the 21-month order, spanning from 25 June 1975 to 21 March 1977, which was imposed upon the whole of India by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. The order was officially declared by the then President of India, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. The order gave Indira Gandhi the authority to rule by decree. It is the kind of ruling generally done by monarchs and dictators, whereby countrymen have no rights of their own. They were the controversial years of our country!
Why did Iron Lady impose Emergency?
Indira’s Congress won 352 seats in the 1971 elections, and her rivals led by the likes of Morarji Desai were decimated. Success in the Bangladesh war followed. Although she remained unchallenged in her party and in Parliament, the mood of the public changed soon afterwards — triggered by inflation caused by the 1973 oil shock, poor management of food grains and commodities, rising unemployment, and increasing corruption in government. Trade union militancy peaked with the 1974 railway strike. Agitating students in Bihar were backed by the Gandhian JP, who came out of retirement to give a call for Total Revolution. In June 1975, the combined opposition, with the blessings of JP, won the Gujarat assembly polls. Protests against Indira Gandhi were going all across the country.
On June 12, Allahabad High Court ruled on a petition filed by Bharatiya Lok Dal leader Raj Narain, declaring Indira’s election win from Rae Bareli void. When the Opposition called for her resignation, the PM appealed to the Supreme Court. The vacation bench of Justice V R Krishna Iyer gave a conditional stay on the HC order, ruling that she could remain PM, but could not speak or vote in Parliament pending a decision by a larger bench.
On June 25, at a massive rally in Delhi, JP announced a weeklong Satyagraha to press for Indira’s resignation. He also appealed to the armed forces, police and government employees not to obey the “illegal and immoral orders” of the government. That night, Indira Gandhi, reportedly on the advice of the West Bengal Chief Minister SS Ray, decided to act. The Cabinet was not consulted. At 8 am on June 26, she made an unscheduled radio broadcast to tell the nation about the Emergency. Many newspapers in Delhi had power supply cut off the previous night, and had not reached readers. They reported the news on June 27.
Arun Jaitley compared Indira Gandhi with Hitler!
As the BJP today launched an all-out attack on the Congress on the Emergency of 1974, union minister Arun Jaitley compares Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post, stating that both had turned democracy into a dictatorship. He quoted “Both Hitler and Mrs. Gandhi never abrogated the Constitution. They used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into a dictatorship. Hitler arrested most of the opposition Members of Parliament and converted his minority Government in Parliament into a 2/3rd majority government.”
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