Emergency of 1975 : Why Modi’s India is Different from Indira’s India?

Emergency of 1975 : On 25th June 1975, when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister of India, emergency was declared across the country. For 21 months, the country was brought under standstill. The then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed using the provisions of Article 352, cited internal disturbances and declared nationwide emergency. The emergency of 1975 was one of the most controversial events of independent India.

Indira’s Grip Over Power

Indira Gandhi became the most powerful leader of independent India by 1971. She tried not just to concentrate the power of Government of India within the Prime Minister’s Secretariat but also tried controlling entire Indian National Congress. Her ruthless approach towards her opponents let to the split of Congress in 1969. However, major chunk of Congress MPs and All India Congress Committee members sided with Indira, making her more powerful. In 1971, General Election, backed by the slogan “Garibi Hatao”, Congress(R) won 352 seats out of 518 Lok Sabha seats. Indira’s Congress(R) came to be known as Real Congress after the election.

What led to the Emergency of 1975 ?

In 1967, Golaknath Case, Supreme Court of India passed an order that the Constitution of India cannot be amended. However, in 1971, Indira Gandhi’s government passed an amendment, 21st Amendment, nullifying the decision of Supreme Court. In same year, in Keshavananda Bharati Case, Supreme Court of India passed an order that the Constitution can be amended without disturbing its basic structure. This was the first step of Indira Gandhi towards controlling the Judiciary of India.

Her move met with criticism all over India. There were mass movements all over India. Leaders like Jay Prakash Narayan, George Fernandes actively participated in agitations against Indira’s government. Students from across India participated in agitations. This was however, not what Indira Gandhi and her Congress party had expected.

To add to Indira’s problem in 1975 in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain Case, Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractice. She was barred from holding any elected office for 6 years. Her Lok Sabha win was invalidated, ultimately leading to political turmoil in nation. The the demand of declaration of emergency grew within Congress and it was not to save nation but to save Indira Gandhi. Therefore, on 25th June 1975 Emergency was declared. The Government cited threats to national security, as a war with Pakistan had recently been concluded. Due to the war and additional challenges of drought and the 1973 oil crisis, the economy was in poor condition. The Government claimed that the strikes and protests had paralysed the government and hurt the economy of the country greatly.

Emergency of 1975

Human Right Violation During Emergency of 1975

After the declaration of Emergency, elections for Parliament and state governments was postponed. Indira Gandhi’s political opponents were imprisoned, and press freedom was curbed. If any press was to publish any news they were to take permission from local police station regarding it. If this was not enough, Indira’s son Sanjay Gandhi launched a campaign of forced mass sterilisation.  Human Rights during the rule of Indira was just on paper, in reality India’s were treated like slaves by her government and the government agent.

India of 2020

Since 2014, Narendra Modi has been leading a non-Congress government at the centre. His government is criticized by the certain media section day in and day out. Every second day there is some sort of protest organised against his Government. However, Narendra Modi’s government has shown maturity in dealing with it. Respecting the Fundamental Rights as provided by Part III of the Indian constitution no voices have been muzzled. However, there has always been a blame that there is an uncalled emergency in the nation.  May be what emergency is all about, is what such section of people should know at first place. Indira’s India need to analysed first before coming to such terms.

A healthy demonstration, a healthy criticism has always been welcomed and allowed by the current government. No reporter has been imprisoned or none has been forced to write in favour of government. Emergency of 1975 was a dark period in the history of Indian democracy. Repeating it by any government will mean the death of Indian democracy.

Emergency of 1975 : Why Modi’s India is Different than Indira’s India?

Read: Should the Gandhi Family let go off the deteriorating Congress?

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