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Who was the ‘villain’ of the emergency? Indira Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi?; Why was such a harsh decision taken?

Pratik Mehta

By Pratik Mehta

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In the morning, as usual, everyone’s radio was on. The country’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was speaking on Akashvani instead of the radio announcer. The President has declared emergency in the country. There is nothing to worry about…’ These words of Indira Gandhi reached everyone’s ears. The people of the entire country were shocked to hear the word emergency. The common man did not know what would happen in the coming days. The decision to declare emergency was taken on 25 June 1975. The next day i.e. on 26 June 1975, Indira Gandhi informed the people about this in the morning.

The condition of the country before the Emergency

In the same year, the Indo-Pak war took place. This war had a big impact on the Indian economy. Because inflation had increased in the country. Corruption in the Congress party was exposed openly. In 1974, the corruption of Gujarat Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel was exposed. He was said to be the mastermind of this scam. The people of Gujarat came out on the streets and started demanding the dismissal of the government, Indira Gandhi had no option left, she dismissed the government. In the same year, a movement against the corruption of Congress started in the state of Bihar under the leadership of Jai Prakash Narayan (JP). There was also a demand to dissolve the government in Bihar. But Indira Gandhi said that this movement is against democracy. In the same year, railway employees went on a three-day strike under the leadership of George Fernandes. About 17 lakh employees participated in this strike.

Indira Gandhi was shocked by the decision of Allahabad High Court

When all this was going on, Indira Gandhi got a big shock from the decision of Allahabad Court. In the 1971 elections, Raj Narayan contested against Indira Gandhi from Rae Bareilly Lok Sabha constituency of Uttar Pradesh. Indira Gandhi won this election, but after the results, Raj Narayan accused Indira Gandhi of winning the election unfairly. The decision of Allahabad High Court on 12 June 1997 regarding this matter created a stir in the country. Indira Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership has been invalidated by Allahabad High Court. Opposition leaders took advantage of this and started taking to the streets in large numbers demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi also started thinking the same but Sanjay Gandhi and his colleagues opposed it. What is the real reason for the resignation? Sanjay Gandhi refused to retain power. Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi was persuaded to call a meeting.

allahabad high court indira gandhi

allahabad high court indira gandhi

Indira Gandhi’s big gathering at Boat Club

A big meeting of Indira Gandhi was held at the Boat Club. The entire Gandhi family was seen in this meeting. About 10 lakh people attended this meeting. This meeting of Indira Gandhi was shown on television for 25 minutes. After the speech, Indira Gandhi said that enjoy the movie Bobby. Because fewer people should attend the meeting that the opposition party was going to hold. On June 25, JP was going to hold a big meeting at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi. At Patna airport from where he was going to Delhi. It was repeatedly said that the atmosphere there was bad. JP realized that everything was being planned. Finally he reached Delhi by train. As soon as JP reached Delhi, Supreme Court Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer pronounced the decision. Which was the biggest setback for Indira Gandhi. The Supreme Court said that Indira Gandhi can remain the Prime Minister but cannot vote in the Parliament.

Crowd gathered at Ramlila Maidan for Jayaprakash Narayan’s rally

On the evening of June 25, a huge crowd gathered at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan. There was no place to stand. J.P. said that we do not want to raise our hands to allow any attack from the front. JP vowed to end Indira Gandhi’s tyranny through non-violence. After meeting Dr. Indira Gandhi at 8 pm that night at Ramlila Maidan, J.P. went to Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. He said that he would decide to impose an emergency in the country. At 11 pm, Home Minister Brahmananda Reddy was called. Within an hour, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was sent to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Even Indira Gandhi’s cabinet ministers were not aware of the decision to impose an emergency. The next day Indira Gandhi informed everyone about the emergency on air. But before that night, the government had started arresting opposition leaders.

Jay Prakash Narayan's rally before emergency 1975

Jay Prakash Narayan’s rally before emergency 1975

Emergency decree and arrest of major leaders

On the night of 25 June, J.P. was arrested. That night, Jayaprakash Narayan was arrested at Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi. These included the names of many big leaders including Jayaprakash Narayan, LK Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Morarji Desai. When George Fernandes was brought to the court, he was handcuffed and chained around his waist. After the Emergency, the people of India were angry with Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi due to atrocities like sterilization, running a bulldozer on Turkman Gate, etc. Leaders who went against Indira Gandhi were put in jail.

What impact did the Emergency have on the country?

  • During the Emergency, elections were postponed throughout the country.
  • With the declaration of emergency, citizens had neither the right to freedom of expression nor the right to life
  • Arrests of leaders of opposition parties started in the country from the night of 5 June.
  • Censorship was imposed on the press. Censor officers were appointed in every newspaper. No news could be published without the permission of that censor officer. Anyone who published news against the government was arrested.
  • During the Emergency, the administration and the police tortured the people, which came to light later.

Indira Gandhi’s secretary R.K. Dhawan told important things

  • The then Chief Minister of West Bengal S.S. Roy advised Indira Gandhi to impose emergency in January 1975. The then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed had no objection to the emergency. He immediately agreed to it.
  • Indiraji had no idea of ‚Äč‚Äčatrocities like forced sterilization and bulldozing of Turkman Gate during the Emergency. Indiraji did not even know that Sanjay Gandhi was taking land for her Maruti project. I helped Sanjay Gandhi in this project and there was nothing wrong in it.
  • Sonia Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had no regrets about the Emergency. Maneka Gandhi was accompanied by her husband Sanjay Gandhi.
  • Emergency was not imposed to save Indiraji’s political career. She herself was preparing to resign. But her colleagues in the cabinet advised her not to resign.

Indira Gandhi’s biggest defeat after the emergency

This was the most controversial period in the history of independent India. After the Emergency, Indira Gandhi was confident that the Congress would return to power in the Lok Sabha elections. But she had to face defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. Emergency was declared on 5 June 1975 till 21 March 1977 i.e. for about 21 months. After the Emergency, elections were held in the month of March. The Indian National Congress (Confederation), Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Bharatiya Lok Dal and Praja Samajwadi Party decided to contest the elections under a banner called Janata Aghadi. The alliance used the symbol allotted to the Bharatiya Lok Dal on the ballot paper as its symbol. The result of this election showed every party in power to the public that no one is bigger than public opinion.

Pratik Mehta

Pratik Mehta

I am Pratik Mehta, a passionate business news writer dedicated to covering economic trends, market analysis, and corporate developments.

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