The Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975, and the topic would forever remain as the topic of discussion in India’s political situation even after half a century later.
June 25, 2021 it marks the 46th anniversary of the Emergency, one the most historical phases in India’s years. The ex-president of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, on this day in 1975 announced a state of emergency across the country on the exhortation of Indira Gandhi, leading the Congress government at the Centre. The Emergency remained in effect from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977. It is one of the most discussed chapters in academic and political history, referring to modern Indian history till date.
The Emergency chapter is often regarded as a dark phase in independent India’s history because this period was marked by unrestrained detention, suppression and government crackdown on civil liberties. There was news of frequent human rights violations and a very critical situation all over India.
On June 12, 1975 the Allahabad High Court convicted Indira Gandhi of electoral misconducting and excluding her from holding any elected post was one of the main reasons leading to the imposition of the Emergency.
Indira Gandhi had won the 1971 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh convincingly defeating socialist leader Raj Narain. He later challenged her election claiming electoral misconduct and violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. There was an allegation on her stating that her election agent Yashpal Kapoor was a government servant and she used government officials for intimate election related work. Convicted Indira Gandhi, was disqualified and imposed a six-year ban on her for holding elected post by Justice Sinha.
The immediate result was seen on the next day, Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency suspending all fundamental rights, putting opposition leaders in jails, and imposing censorship on the media.
The Congress government cited danger to national security, highlighting the recently-concluded war with Pakistan as a plank for its argument. Many members of the party were against the idea of declaration of a state of emergency. But a few supporters, including the then chief minister of West Bengal, Siddhartha Shankar Ray. According to historians, the prime minister’s younger son, Sanjay Gandhi was also in support of his mother’s declaration of the Emergency.
In its immediate result, the top newspapers denounced the 21-month period of state repression in their respective editorials, while academics highlighted the need to bring checks and balances in the Indian constitution through amendments, to prevent future scenarios.
As years passed, the issue of the Emergency became a main point of dispute between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Many of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s senior leaders were arrested during this period, and BJP leaders have made it a point to bring this phase into attention of the public.
On June 25, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homages to all “those greats” who resisted the Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on this day in 1975 and said democracy had prevailed over authoritarianism.