Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Thursday recalled as to how the party under former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s leadership was rejected by the people post the Emergency and said that the other political parties should take lessons from this episode and not try to ruin the country’s democratic system.
“Indira Gandhi herself had sought apology for the imposition of Emergency. The party was even punished for that. We want others to learn a lesson from such an episode and no one should try to ruin the democratic system of a country,” Singh told the media here.
Indira Gandhi had imposed emergency in the country on June 25, 1975 after the Allahabad High Court and subsequently the Supreme Court found her election to the Lok Sabha ‘null and void’.
With protests and strikes sweeping the country after the Supreme Court’s judgement, the government officially stated that the country was ‘paralysed’ after a hard-fought war with Pakistan and justified the imposition of the Emergency by citing threats to national security.
During this 22-month period, Gandhi invoked Article 352 of the Constitution to grant herself ‘extraordinary powers’ and launched a massive crackdown on civil liberties and political rivals, arresting opposition leaders like Vijayaraje Scindia, Jaiprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani.
Actions taken by the government during this period include the widespread censuring of all media, the detention of people by the police without notification, abuse and torture of detainees, and the forced sterilisation drives undertaken by Gandhi’s younger son Sanjay.
The Emergency officially ended on March 23, 1977, with Indira Gandhi having released all political prisoners earlier that year. Fresh elections were called, with the Congress losing by a large margin, resulting in the Janata Party’s Morarji Desai becoming the first non-Congress prime minister of India.
In an interview given to an English daily earlier this month, Advani had said that he did not see any sign in India’s current polity that assured him of any outstanding aspect of leadership, adding that he did not have the confidence that a situation like the Emergency would not be repeated in the country.