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What led the Indira Gandhi-led Congress govt to declare Emergency? ‘Dark days’ explained | India News

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage to those who resisted the 21-month Emergency period, highlighting the importance of protecting democratic values.

Emergency Indira Gandhi pm Modi

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (Credit:PTI)

On the 48th anniversary of the declaration of emergency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to those who resisted against the totalitarian regime. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed the emergency on June 25, 1975, which Prime Minister Modi recognised as an unforgettable chapter in India’s history. The “dark days of emergency” lasted for 21 months, from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977.

I pay homage to all those courageous people who resisted the Emergency and worked to strengthen our democratic spirit. The #DarkDaysOfEmergency remain an unforgettable period in our history, totally opposite to the values our Constitution celebrates.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 25, 2023

 3 things you should know

  • The 1975 emergency period in India was a 21-month period of authoritarian rule imposed by India’s former and only woman prime minister, Indira Gandhi. It led to widespread censorship, political repression, and the suspension of civil liberties.
  • During the emergency period, thousands of opposition members, activists, and journalists were arrested and detained without trial, and media outlets were heavily censored, leading to fearmongering and the suppression of dissent.
  • The emergency was lifted in 1977 when the Congress party was defeated in the general elections, and Morarji Desai became the first non-Congress Prime Minister.

5 reasons that might have led to The Emergency

Political Turmoil and Instability: The ongoing political instability in India was one of the major factors that contributed to the declaration of the Emergency in the 1970s. Under Gandhi’s leadership, the ruling Congress Party faced numerous challenges, such as accusations of corruption, electoral setbacks, and growing opposition from various quarters. Political unrest was plaguing the nation, and the government saw declaring an Emergency as a way to regain control and preserve stability.

Allahabad High Court Verdict: The Allahabad High Court verdict in 1975, which found the former prime minister guilty of electoral malpractices in the 1971 general elections, was another pivotal event that led to the Emergency. Her election to Parliament was declared null and void, and she was barred from holding any elected office for six years. Faced with the prospect of losing power, Gandhi took the controversial step of declaring an emergency to avoid the consequences of the court’s decision.

Internal Security Concerns: India experienced a number of internal security issues in the early 1970s, including student protests, strikes, and racial tensions. The Emergency was used by the government to repress dissent, restrict civil liberties, and exert control over the population because it was seen as a threat to the stability of the country. During this time, it became a common practice to arbitrarily arrest and detain political opponents and suspend fundamental rights.

Economic Crisis: India was also grappling with a severe economic crisis during the mid-1970s. High inflation, rising unemployment, and a balance of payments deficit had strained the country’s economy. The government believed that imposing the Emergency would enable them to implement economic reforms without facing significant opposition or criticism. The period saw the implementation of several controversial policies, including the forced sterilisation program, which aimed to control population growth but was met with widespread resistance.

Maintaining Political Power: The motive often cited as the primary reason behind the imposition of the Emergency was Gandhi’s desire to consolidate political power. By suspending democratic processes, muzzling the media, and curbing political dissent, the government aimed to suppress opposition voices and maintain a firm grip on power. The Emergency period witnessed the centralisation of authority and an erosion of democratic institutions, leading to an environment where dissent was stifled and criticism was met with repression.

The dark days of emergency, serves as a stark reminder of the importance of safeguarding democratic values, upholding civil liberties, and maintaining a system of checks and balances. The period left an indelible mark on India’s political landscape and serves as a lesson in the perils of unchecked power.

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