Home NEWS National Prime Ministers of India from Nehru to Modi # 3

Prime Ministers of India from Nehru to Modi # 3

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The succession process following the unexpected demise of the Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri got converted into a fierce battle due to over-enthusiasm of a media person to beat his rivals. In the funeral procession, a senior media person R. Rangarajan of United News of India, UNI asked Morarji Desai whether he would contest. In his usual manner, Morarji ignored the question but knowing him the media person sent a flash through his wire agency, “Morarji throws hat in the ring.” It rang alarm bells to activate all leaders in the party opposed to Morarji Desai to mobilize their strength. They found a candidate in the daughter of the first Prime Minister Nehru. She was information minister in the Shastri cabinet and had never thought of the post. As the socialist ideologue Madhu Limaye put it, ‘she was chosen as the least unacceptable person.’ But she had told the interim Prime Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda ‘she was not contesting.’ She could not even believe she would find any supporters.

Morarji Desai was the least acceptable candidate as most regional leaders dreaded to see his elevation. Most had a taste of his rigid obstinacy and his acidic tongue. They believed from an episode of 1931 when he resigned as the deputy collector of Godhara in Gujarat rather than write the report as the collector demanded. He would be an unbending leader. Nine chief ministers led by the Madhya Pradesh chief minister DP Mishra joined the four regional old men who had command over the Congress party organization in their province to oppose Morarji Desai.

Later on, Desai explained he had not even thought of entering the contest. He could never have thrown his hat in the ring as he was generally used to wearing the Gandhi cap. The move of mobilizing the support to defeat him brought him into the ring. He insisted on the trial of strength to force the election of the leader for the first time on the Congress Parliamentary Party. His defeat was a foregone conclusion with nine chief ministers opposed to him but everyone held the breath till final count was announced. The regional leaders could not ignore his information about the government of Indira Gandhi.

As if a trainload of hardships was waiting for a signal, it started full speed to deliver one after the other difficulties. The current account deficit galloped at higher than normal pace as aftermath of the six months war of previous year began to unfold with the need to replenish defence preparedness. The heavy drop in export and increased burden of import put a heavy pressure of not only foreign exchange reserves but also the dollar-rupee value equation. In ten months she had to go in for heavy devaluation. She believed she was wrongly advised by her commerce minister Manubhai Shah to go for the devaluation of the Indian rupee. As punishment, he was not inducted in her next term.

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The failure of monsoon brought the uneasy spectre of famine looming largely. The increased need for food grains to feed hungry millions forced her to stand on the doorsteps of America with a begging bowl in hand. There is a story making rounds of higher bureaucratic circles though without positive confirmation. At the formal dinner hosted by President Lyndon B Johnson, he extended his hand to invite Indira Gandhi for a formal dance. She did not accept it. Angry at this insult, Johnson went to another room to phone instructions to stop the grain laden ships from moving out to India.

Indira Gandhi’s secretary whispered in her ears that the old man had not taken kindly her decline to dance. She ambled in the next room where President Johnson was still fuming in rage over the phone. She asked him whether she could have the pleasure of dance. The stunned President said but she had declined his invitation-only a few moments ago. She explained, “I am a widow. My people in India would not accept a widow dancing with a foreign male in public by holding on to his shoulders.” There were media men with cameras in the stateroom. But she would like to have the pleasure of dancing with him in the private room without the hovering shutterbugs. After three rounds of dance movements, Johnson left her to rush to the phone and shout new order, “Let the bloody ships sail to India.” She left the venue with a broad smile on her face. (Many media persons believe that the episode happened with Richard Nixon but by the time, Indira Gandhi came to visit America in November 1970, India had no need to import food grains from outside. The Green Revolution initiated in 1966 had made India produce enough food grains to meet her requirement)

The incident had shaken her to make her resolute to eliminate the need to suffer humiliation each year to carry the begging bowl to get grain stocks. She immediately approved the scheme for improving productivity in acres under wheat cultivation. She goaded Dr. MS Swaminathan to deliver quick and sure yield as she considered the project that later came to be known as the Green Revolution was important for national honour. In five years, the food grains production crossed the mark of 104 million tonnes from 53 million tonnes in 1966. Shastri had already launched the White Revolution in 1964 to improve milk production and animal husbandry. Before that India had to depend on the large quantum of imports of milk and milk products like butter and cheese. Even proverb that indicated insincere flattery had the word Polson, derived from only butter brand in India then was known as Polson. Initially imported but Parasi Dairy of Mumbai began producing the variety sold mostly in Mumbai and that too only in rich families. Others may have heard of the brand only because of satire. By 1970 Amul Butter had replaced the imported butter, Polson. 

Gulzari Lal Nanda
Gulzari Lal Nanda

The first major political issue that she faced was of eliminating Gulzari Lal Nanda from her cabinet following violent riots by demonstrators seeking an immediate ban on cow slaughter. Nanda had overruled, on the suggestion of the then home secretary, the precautionary police approach of maintaining a safe and manageable distance between parliament house and demonstrators. The huge crowd of sadhus, saffron wearers as well as women and children were allowed to come within half km of the Parliament. Estimates of the assembled crowd in the parliament street differed from three lakh to seven lakh. It became restless as one member came from the Lok Sabha to announce Prime Minister Indira Gandhi rejected the demand.

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It sent sadhus in saffron to go berserk and attack government establishments on both sides of the street. Several cars were burnt down. Media persons working for premier wire agency that as operating from barracks opposite the Akashvani Bhavan had run away to escape the wrath of surging violent crowds. Finally, police opened fire that resulted in heavy casualties, eleven dead and several injured in police firing as well as in riots that had ruled then.

Indira Gandhi could easily show Nanda the door as he had no following in the party but she could not prevent the political development shaping outside to abridge the distances among various elements that stood in opposition to the Congress Party. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the prominent young leader of the Jan Sangh was able to bring to an end the practice in his party Jan Sangh of remaining alone and untouched by others even though its vote share did not cross the mark of eight per cent in three elections. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, who ruled over the party after the death of founder SP Mukherjee, did not agree to join hands with others as they were equally abominable for him as the secularist Congress party was. Vajpayee had the last argument unless the party joined in electoral understanding with others, the Congress cannot be defeated due to division of anti-Congress votes. Ultimately Vajpayee had the last word to reach an electoral understanding with others for the fourth election. But it was not meeting of ideas but merely shaking of hands to show to the opponent the unity they had achieved to ensure the earthshaking verdict at the next electoral battle. They were not guided by the thought of seeking a national political change but were obsessed with getting a large piece of political fallout. The main idea was not to change ideology but handshaking was to seek personal comfort of power share. They could not stew their ideology into a larger pot but had to suffer the horizontal split in even their units with central leaders running in the direction of a larger unity and their lower rungs in state units stuck in the mire of their old games. The new alliance became a marriage of convenience.

The Congress went to the election without Nehru for the first time through the more important change was the emergence of a coalition of opposition parties including the new entity Swatantra Party. The final count was devastating as power slipped from hands of the Congress in Orissa, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Punjab. It survived narrowly in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Later it lost in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh in the leadership wrangles. Its majority in the Lok Sabha reduced to be razor-thin. That gave an advantage to the old guard in the party to persuade Morarji Desai to step aside to facilitate installation of Indira Gandhi. He was offered the title of the deputy prime minister and ministry of his preference. The future course was concealed in the interpretation of the private message by the party president K Kamaraj to Indira Gandhi. The message was no one could now fit in shoes of Nehru. Hence it would have to be collective leadership henceforth.’ She concluded that message was to tell her that she was merely masked and could be and would be discarded at a convenient opportunity to be chosen by the old guard. She also read in the message the imperatives of her politics from then on to ensure her survival in the office.

She began building her props on both sides of the combo ideological show, the assembly of socialist forum containing mostly those with left orientation and had come to the party after the first short term of Indira Gandhi. At the same time, she had Nehru forum to assemble minds that had dislike of the left orientation. For both kinds, she was the top point and she used both to keep the middle path. The defeat of the party leadership over the issue of bank nationalization in the All India Congress session in June 1967 gave Indira Gandhi inkling for the future direction of her politics. Group, known as Young Turks, led by the socialist Chandra Shekhar, forced the amendment to ask the government to nationalize banks instead of keeping them under social controls.

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The Faridabad session in April 1969 pronounced the division of the party into two identifiable camps but the real opportunity came her way with the election for the President due to death of incumbent President Dr Zakir Hussein. The old guard projected the Lok Sabha speaker Dr Sanjiva Reddy to terrorize Indira Gandhi in the belief that conspiracy to get rid of her was initiated. She sponsored the union minister Jagjivan Ram as the candidate but she was defeated in a vote in the Parliamentary Board. She was inclined to step down immediately after her defeat. Chandra Shekhar invited urgently by the agriculture minister C. Subramaniam persuaded her that death should be preferable in battle than due to surrender of arms.

On the way back from Bangalore, she took a break at Bhopal to ask the vice president acting as the President VV Giri to resign and file his nomination as an independent candidate. She signed nomination for Sanjiva Reddy but did not campaign for him. CD Deshmukh, former finance minister became third sponsored by the Swatantra Party and Jan Sangh in a hope it will ensure the victory of Dr Reddy. The election became a fierce political battle with Chandra Shekhar converting it into a battle between masses and rich rightists. Her defiance of party discipline was open and yet the old guard could not have the courage to initiate disciplinary action. Their dithering and her victory in the battle made the disciplinary action redundant political exercise. She was ready for the great divide when she deprived Morarji Desai of his portfolio and nationalized 20 major banks within hours. The direction of her politics was determined by her survival needs and not by her political commitment.  The lower cadre was told to propagate that she had snatched away wealth of all rich by her bold step of nationalizing major banks.

Morarji Desai could not support the candidature of Jagjivan Ram as he knew that he had an unbroken record of being in every council of ministers since 1938 but had not paid his tax dues or filed his return even though it was mandatory. She could not make him the President of India but she did make him president of her political party after he apologized for lapses on the mandatory need to pay taxes. His famous words for an apology in the Lok Sabha were, “I know people will forgive me and forget that I had erred   on my tax dues.”    Indira Gandhi did not have the virtue of forgetting or forgiving. She truncated his tenure as the Congress president in four months. In April 1971, three months after Jagjivan Ram as given grand reception at Mumbai as the party chief, he was moved out to make a way for D Sanjivaiya chief minister o Andhra to take over.

She went in for fresh election in March 1971 after dissolving the fourth Lok Sabha a year before its term-end. She introduced changes to the electioneering structure that not only facilitate but made inevitable the large scale use of black wealth. She warned Piloo Mody that she would not only starve her opponents of funds but also inflate its need so much that her opponents would not be able to cross her path. The legal ban on donations to political activities through a law had this objective in her mind. She eliminated the need for the party cadre by putting teams of young to ride her party provided jeeps at breakneck speed and loudspeaker blaring slogans. Every village was subjected to the nuisance of blaring loudspeakers from Sunrise to midnight. Her rightist opponents combined their strength but were without the capacity to match her new ways of electioneering. Their assets were barons of the business world with open money bags and media barons with their barking dogs. They had a common purpose in opposing her as she had certainly indicated the swing to economy towards left with a series of nationalizations since bank nationalization.

Most media organs were made to the bugle-blare same tune as her reaching a maximum of 150 seats. Even a fleeting glance at the body language of large audiences of poor and their dialogues while dispersing would have convinced of her victory with an absolute majority. The final outcome forced a permanent change in her party structure. It was drastic as she saw no need of middle agency to reach people. She was convinced of her ability to reach them directly.

She began from 1969 to replace chief ministers in the saddle due to their majority support with persons of her choice and had their seats dependent on her pleasure and displeasure to gain, retain or be thrown out of the given office. The practice of nominating persons to various posts in the party and government got extended to cover even district party offices. On the trend, Jagjivan Ram commented the party was relegated to grafted chief ministers. However, reading of Chandra Shekhar was she had no intention of delivering on her electoral promises. First, she had no ability to understand what she promised and secondly she had no capacity to deliver. Both were wrong in believing that she promised to remove poverty. Every time she spoke only of her desire to remove poverty but her opponents want to remove her. She proved Chandra Shekhar right by presenting an excuse for no implementation. In 1971, it was war with Pakistan, and then judiciary stood in her way, followed by the bureaucracy, fourth in a row was CIA and finally students’ violence.

Like Indian voters, the electorates of Pakistan and Sri Lanka also delivered in 1971 March elections had also delivered massive verdicts. Sirimavo Bhandarnayake had no difficulty in ascending but the verdict in Pakistan brought the regional war. Though Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman outnumbered the nominees in West Pakistan ZA Bhutto stood in the way with the Pakistan military establishment behind him. They did not favour politician from East to be Prime Minister. But democratic rules prevailed with Rehman. To deter him from aspiring to be the Prime Minister, the military power reigned, in the East, the aura of torture and suppression. In dread, poor rushed to India for shelter and support. Within two months ten million refugees became a heavy burden in several ways, administrative management wise and resources need wise.

Yet there is no parallel in the world history to the achievement of the Indian bureaucracy in efficiently managing ten million human beings, without their resources, feeding them, keeping them in a peaceful environment and without allowing a single being to be a victim of the health hazard, and organizing their safe return to their land in two weeks after ten months. The Indian structure had responded bravely and managed efficiently the major challenge. India had not sought assistance from any other nation. Though guests were intruders, they were housed and fed as a humane response.

In November 1971, Indira Gandhi sought the intervention of the USA to resolve the human tragedy that had become a massive burden for India. If the reign of terror by West Pakistan in its East wing was not brought to an early end, it could result in other flare-ups, she warned the US President Richard Nixon. But he was not attentive to her plea. Ultimately before departing from the meeting, she told him to be ready for Indian response. Pakistan gloats on its friendship with you and on moral and material support from China.  But Indians are not cowards or cowherds. They also know to defend their interests and with proven efficiency. India had signed the Friendship treaty with Russia in August 1971 to deter both America and China from direct and active intervention.

It is no material to investigate who fired the first shot. Relevant is the Indian forces succeeded in bringing the Pakistani troops reigning terror in its east wing to their knees. The Armed forces were in a position to run over Lahore to dispossess Pakistan of the major city but Indira Gandhi put her foot down by posing a question, you can run over but how would you govern the hostile three million? 93000 Pakistan soldiers were captured as prisoners of War after the surrender was signed by their commanding officer Lt General Niazi. The sixth fleet of American Naval Arm was hovering around in Bengal Sea but dared not respond to the Indian challenge to enter the Indian waters or even come closer to the Dacca shore. India did not seek the Russian assistance though India had signed the friendship pact with Russia on August 9 1971. The pact was enough deterrent for both the USA and China. The 14-day war that culminated in dividing Pakistan and created a new nation on the Eastern order of India was then considered to be her great achievement.  The disappointment began to creep in 1975 with the elimination of Mujib Ur in the military take over. Mujib Ur was killed in jail four hours prior to Indira Gandhi was to address of Indian people on Independence Day. The equations underwent drastic changes after the military coup. (There are varying versions. Indian information was Mujib ur Rehman was shot dead in custody, then his dead body as transported to his house and all adults in the home were also shot dead too create an impression that the military administration was not involved)

The Pakistan Prime Minister ZA Bhutto came to Simla in July 1972 for peace talks with Indira Gandhi. But as they could not reach agreement on terms offered by India, it appeared he would return empty-handed. But he walked into the room of Indira Gandhi after dinner, pleaded his incapacity to make counter-proposals. His anxiety was to seek the release of POWs to prove his visible success than terms of the agreement. His counter proposals were reasonable. She ordered the preparation of Agreement to be signed next morning before Bhutto returned with his young daughter Benazir to claim grand success as he had succeeded in securing the release of Pakistani soldiers in India. Indira Gandhi was happy to be relieved of the burden of maintaining and feeding them. However, Benazir wrote in her biography that her father had told her of his priority of getting back territory that India had won. The fact remains that major part still remains with India and Pakistan had to agree in terms of the agreement to respect the line of control as the border between two neighbours. Bhutto had walked into the room of Piloo Modi in the hotel after his success and told him that Indira Gandhi agreed to release Pakistan soldiers immediately. He would ensure a grand reception for them as a symbol of his victory. Piloo Modi, a roommate of Bhutto as students’ at Berkley University was requested guest of Indira Gandhi in case she needed his service to bring Bhutto down to earth.

She had proved her mettle but overconfidence became her problem in two years, especially as she tried to discipline the Gujarat politician Chimanbhai Patel who dared to tell her that nobody gave her authority to impose her choice as the chief minister in any state. Only the legislative party can elect the leader. She facilitated his becoming chief minister but designed to bring him down three months down as well. On July 17 1973 he was sworn in as the chief minister. On September 1, the state quota of wheat for Public Distribution System was reduced to half. It forced the state government to disqualify students’ hostel from the PDS supplies. That increased many times the food bills for students to send them in resorting to the agitation. His efforts to augment supplies through direct purchases in Punjab, Haryana or Uttar Pradesh were frustrated with denial of permission to move wheat from one state to other as the country was brought under wheat zone regulation. In 1972 she had almost proposed nationalization of wheat trade but her Principal Secretary PN Haksar had prevented her from inviting a disaster.  Instead, she went in for wheat zone system to sustain procurement by Food Corporation for the buffer stocks at the government declared prices. The inability of the chief minister gave the turn to the student’s agitation to become aggressive. The agitation was financed from the party funds and conduit was the former finance minister Jaswant Mehta. He was told to convey to the leader what she initiated in Gujarat will recoil on her.

Finally, chief minister stepped down in February 1974 in seven months to prove she could nominate and retain chief ministers only at her pleasure and also thrown them out at her displeasure. The state came under the Central rule but without dissolving the assembly. She had to revise her decision due to fast unto death undertaken by old man Morarji Desai. Elections were held a year later but results were shocking for her despite maximum efforts. She had never devoted as much time, energy and effort on any other state election as she did to win Gujarat but shock awaited her on the day two other crises walked her way.

Her politics of confrontation recoiled sooner with the Bihar students on a rampage to demand an end to corruption in politics. Lalu Prasad Yadav who later in 1990 became chief minister had initiated the move soon after the Gujarat students declined to take the offer by the prominent Sarvodaya leader Jai Prakash Narayan of lending his support. The Jan Sangh in charge of the state unit of Bihar, Govinda Acharya took over the command of the Bihar agitation. The state chief minister Abdul Gafoor was not the target though agitation was in the state. The target was apparently Indira Gandhi. She sought to bravely face the salvos aimed at her but it also exposed her loneliness at the party. No senior or junior minister took public platform either to stand in her support or to assail agitation or its perpetrators. She was seen fighting her battle alone. The march of three lakh persons mostly from outside of Delhi from Red Fort to Parliament on March 6 1975 was a unique event to attract the attention of the world Media. The slowdown in the tempo of the Bihar agitation did not bring comfort to Indira Gandhi as she was confronted in May 1974 to deal with the rail strike. At last, she attempted to play he trump card up the sleeves to make Buddha smile. On May 28 1974 she stunned the world with the successful nuclear test in Rajasthan to show that without borrowing or stealing from the West, Indian scientists have developed full command over nuclear technology but it did not impress the Indian masses. They were mesmerized by her electoral promise, patiently wait for three years to give her enough time to deliver on her electoral promises and run out of excuses for non-performance. Buddha smiled for her. The world was stunned but not Indian masses that had begun to lend their ears to her opponents.

In this changed scenario of overcharged politics, had dawned June 12 1975 to bring tidings of major disasters. First the Allahabad High Court verdict set aside her election from Rae Bareli for irregular activities and malpractices by her political agents. Two hours later came outcome of the Gujarat assembly elections indicating failure of her party to win the mandate. Third, the news was of the death of her aide and foreign minister DP Dhar in Moscow hospital. The court verdict personally affected Indira Gandhi for it called on political morality basis for her immediate step-down but she was under the notion of the imminent collapse of India in her stepping down.

She firmly believed that judge set aside her election out of his personal prejudices. Initially, she was in two minds whether to seek legal redress by stepping down or being stay put in office. Her younger son Sanjay Gandhi came running to her rescue to make her abandon her thought of stepping down. Instead, both concentrated on organizing a display of public demand for her staying on in the post. Display of public support was essential for the international media that immediately rushed to India as the judiciary had brought down a person in the highest political seat.

She did not anticipate a challenge from within except from Jagjivan Ram for he had a reason to nurse a grudge for humiliation on two counts in less than a decade. First proposing his name for the presidential election in 1969 and then dropping it. Second humiliation was to snatch away the post of the party president from him in three months in 1971 as punishment for his remark that he was not a sleeping party president. As media reports started rolling and speculating the possibility of his claiming the post as successor, she rushed Swaran Singh the foreign minister to calm him down. Uma Shankar Dikshit rushed in five minutes later and she also walked in to assuage his hurt and promised she would recommend his name if she had to step down and sought his assurance not to make any move before.

Jagjivan Ram was only one among three leaders who had addressed the Congress members on June 24 in the Parliament hall did not refer to her but sought unity in the party to face the grave crisis. Devkant Barooah, the party president had earned the lasting infamy with his equating India wit person Indira Gandhi. He had said ‘Indira is India and India is Indira.’ Yashwantrao Chavan had also sounded similar sentiments with his comment that what happens to Indira Gandhi hurts India. She is hurt with harm to India. But international media was impressed by the mammoth gathering of humans converting the lawns on both sides of the Raj path into a sea of humanity. Never before the Boat was club lawn allowed being the venue for a political rally.

On June 24 the vacation judge in the Supreme Court provided her respite and relief by granting her right to continue in the office till the final disposal of her writ. Though the court verdict favoured her continuation, she needed to silence political opponents showing signs of awakening ten days after the high court verdict. While she was busy with the proposal to use the constitution to her advantage and justify actions for silencing the opponents’ guns, police in several cities were on doorsteps of political opponents, in parties or outside the framework. June 25 was the night of swoop like the night of knives used by Adolph Hitler in Germany to silence his opponents. Chandra Shekhar was served the warrant of his arrest outside the Parliament Street Police station where he had gone to comfort JP in the police jeep after arrest to be moved to Chandigarh. As Chandra Shekhar was about to ride on a pillion of two-wheeler of a media person to go back to his home, a warrant was served on him. Before his arrest, he heard someone from the prime minister’s office as was the instruction to the SHO. After putting down the receiver he asked SHO weather he would be driven directly to jail or via his home to enable him to pick up a few daily need items. In all 139 politicians were picked up by police parties that night.

Newspapers were unaware of the night swoop. The authorities did not risk it and disconnected power supply to prevent publication. Indira Gandhi apprised people of the compulsion for imposing emergency rule next morning over the radio network through ten-minute national address. Censorship on media was announced six hours later. It also ensured total isolation of Indira Gandhi as no one dared to invite her displeasure by informing her of the undesirable event or misuse of wide powers she had invested in the bureaucratic set up or even growing resentment over the coercive methods practised to implement dictates of Sanjay Gandhi, but in reality as the extra-constitutional tool of the coterie around him operating from the part of her residence. His five points programme was desirable but the coercive methodology for its execution made it abominable.

The coterie also sought replacement of Indian constitution with a new one that could ensure the lifelong power vested in the Gandhi family. Indira Gandhi was restless by October 1976 due to growing global disapproval of her experiment with the emergency rule. She outright rejected the move to change the constitution. She had summarily rejected the move with a single question what is wrong with the old one?’ She had driven away without waiting for the reply leaving behind her defence minister Bansi Lal gasping from his breath. Bansi Lal assigned the mission to know whether she preferred a new constituent assembly for the adoption of a new document.

She announced on January 18 1977 her intent for elections in March 1977 and had a fierce fight with her son Sanjay who demanded scrapping the announcement. She may not have had the positive information on who incited her son to fiercely fight with her. But she could definitely suspect by recalling the incident at the Congress Session at Chandigarh in 1976. She had decided on Narsimha Rao to replace Barooah as the party president. Printed copies of his presidential address were also ready for distribution. Sanjay Gandhi insisted on the continuation of Barooah for one more term and had his way. Barooah had even threatened to hold his fast in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan if the acting President acceded to her request for cancelling the election. Indira Gandhi was surprised when Hari Krishna Shastri informed her of strange drama enacted before the vice president B D Jatti then acting as the President. Indira Gandhi had no plans to overrule the electoral mandate. But incident may have prompted her actions when she engineered the second split of her party in January 1978.

She was convinced long before the election results came, she had lost the gamble. There was indirect admission in her reaction to Jagjivan Ram’s leaving her on Feb 3 1977. Her reaction was ‘rats run away when the ship is sinking.’ She poured her venom on Jagjivan Ram for she had for a long time suspected his politics but there was covert admission that her ship was sinking.

To a question why did she hurry with elections and not use the year of an extended term of Lok Sabha for better preparations, she quipped, “you media persons always use the wrong end of a telescope. Why not think that I restored democracy a year earlier?” But she did not have a convincing answer to the glaring anomaly in results. She got only one of 339 seats in Hindi belt as well as in north and east but had won 152 of 204 seats in four Southern states and two Western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Why was such a glaring difference though the emergency rule was applicable to all states and uniformly? It could not have been due to cultural difference except for the fact that administrations in six states used the empowerment for better administration and in other parts, empowerment was misused for corruption and personal benefits.

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Vijay Sanghvi
Political Commentator and Analyst Vijay Sanghvi, 81 has created a niche for himself as a seasoned media person with proven credentials and political, economic and social analyst since 1962. Sanghvi worked for five years in Mumbai for Gujarati papers before shifting to Delhi and continued to work for various dailies in Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English as well as for international media. He has many newsbreaks to his credit as well as inside view of many epoch making events. He covered parliamentary proceedings from 1967 till 2007.


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