Recalling how more than four decades ago the government led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed 'phoney' Emergency, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said that the constitutional provisions were then used to turn democracy into a constitutional dictatorship.
Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency on June 25, 1975 on account of international disturbances, suspending key fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution to every citizen.
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"It was a phoney emergency on account of proclaimed policy that Indira Gandhi was indispensable to India and all contrarian voices had to be crushed. The constitutional provisions were used to turn democracy into a constitutional dictatorship,” said Jaitley in a Facebook post, the first part of the three-part series titled 'The Emergency revisited'. The second part of the series will come tomorrow.
Jaitley further said that he became the first Satyagrahi against Indira Gandhi government's draconian move and was lodged in Tihar Jail for organising a protest meeting on June 26, 1975.
On the mid-night of June 25-26, 1975 several prominent political leaders of the opposition parties were arrested.
"I led a protest of Delhi University Students where we burnt effigy of the Emergency and I delivered a speech against what was happening. The police had arrived in large number. I got arrested only to be served a detention order under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act. I was taken to Delhi’s Tihar Jail for the purpose of detention.
"I thus got the privilege for organizing the only protest on the morning of 26th June 1975 and became the first Satyagrahi against the Emergency. Little did I realize that at a young age of 22 years, I was participating in events which were going to be a part of history. For me, this event changed the future course of my life. By late afternoon, I was lodged in Tihar Jail as a MISA detenu," he recalled.
Jaitley said the years 1971 and 1972 were high points in the political career of Gandhi as she challenged the senior leaders of her own party and a grand alliance of opposition party.
"She won convincingly the 1971 General Elections. She was the key centre of political power for the next five years. There was no challenge to her within her own party," Jaitley wrote in the Facebook post.
He said during the decades 60s and 70s, the average growth rate of GDP had only been 3.5 per cent. Inflation in 1974 touched a staggering 20.2 per cent and reached 25.2 per cent in 1975. Labour laws were made more stringent and these led to a near economic collapse.
There was large scale unemployment and the unprecedented price rise. Investment in the economy had taken a back seat. To make matters worse FERA was enacted. The Foreign Exchange resources in 1975 and 1976 were a mere USD 1.3 billion, he said.
"The tragedy of Mrs Indira Gandhi politics was she preferred the popular slogans over sound and sustainable policies. The Government with a huge electoral mandate at the Centre and the States, continued in the same economic directions which she had experimented in the late 1960's," Jaitley said, adding Gandhi believed that India's slow growth was on account of smuggling and economic offences.
"By 1973, it became apparent that the Government had no intention of changing a disastrous economy path on which it had embarked. Its political strategy was instrumental in the Government losing the sympathy of the intelligentsia," he said.
(With PTI inputs)