This Day in History (23-Jan-1977) – Janata Party was formed

In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of national emergency. Thousands of opposition political activists, as well as leaders were arrested. Calling elections in 1977 the government released political prisoners and weakened restrictions and censorship on the press. When opposition leaders sought the support of Jayaprakash Narayan for the forthcoming election, he insisted that all opposition parties form a united front.

The Janata party was officially launched on 23 January 1977 when the Janata Morcha, Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Lok Dal, Swatantra Party, the Socialist Party of India of Raj Narain and George Fernandes, and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) joined together, dissolving their separate identities. Although the political ideologies of Janata Party constituents were diverse and conflicting, the party was able to unite under the over-reaching appeal of Jayaprakash Narayan, who had been seen as the ideological leader of the anti-Emergency movement and now the Janata party. Morarji Desai was elected the first party chairman. Ramakrishna Hegde became the party general secretary, and Jana Sangh politician Lal Krishna Advani became the party spokesperson.

As it became clear that Indira’s Emergency rule had been widely unpopular, defections from the Congress (R) government increased. A former Minister of Defence, Jagjivan Ram left the Congress (R) and formed the Congress for Democracy along with the former Chief Minister of Orissa Nandini Satpathy, former Union Minister of State for Finance K. R. Ganesh, former M.P. D. N. Tiwari and Bihar politician Raj Mangal Pandey. Congress for Democracy contested the election with the same manifesto as the Janata party and subsequently merged.

Janata party won a sweeping victory, securing 43.2% of the popular vote and 271 seats. With the support of the Akali Dal and the Congress for Democracy, it had amassed a two-thirds, or absolute majority of 345 seats. Raj Narain defeated Indira in Rae Bareilly constituency. The first non-Congress Government was formed with Moraraji Desai as a Prime Minister. However continuous in-fighting and ideological differences made the Janata government unable to effectively address national problem and was defragmented losing elections in 1980.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janata_Party

This Day in History (12-Nov-1969) – Indira Gandhi expelled from Congress for indiscipline during President elections

In 1967 while Indira Gandhi was PM, the Syndicate consisting of Moraraji Desai and others was controlling Indian National Congress (INC). On Kamaraj’s retirement as party president at the end of 1967, Syndicate foiled Indira’s attempt to have her own men elected to succeed him. Instead, the post went to the conservative Nijalingappa. In May 1967, the Congress Working Committee adopted a radical Ten-Point Programme which included social control of banks, nationalization of general insurance, abolition of princely privileges etc. making it a left wing. However, the Congress right, Syndicate opposed it.

On the death of President Zakir Husain in May 1969, the Syndicate despite Indira Gandhi’s opposition, nominated Sanjiva Reddy, as the Congress candidate for presidentship. As retaliation, Indira took away the Finance portfolio from Desai on the grounds that as a conservative he was incapable of implementing her radical programme. Other Presidential candidates were C.D. Deshmukh and V.V. Giri. At this stage, the Syndicate made a major blunder. To assure Reddy’s election, Nijalingappa met the leaders of Jan Sangh and Swatantra and persuaded them to cast their second preference votes in favour of Reddy. Indira Gandhi immediately accused the Syndicate of having struck a secret deal with communal and reactionary forces in order to oust her from power. She now openly, supported Giri in favour of Reddy and asked Congress MPs and MLAs to vote freely according to their ‘conscience’. In the election, nearly one-third of them defied the organizational leadership and voted for Giri, who won by narrow margin.

In the end, on 12 November, the defeated and humiliated Syndicate took disciplinary action against Indira Gandhi and expelled her from the party for having violated party discipline. The party had finally split with Indira Gandhi setting up a rival organization, which came to be known as Congress (R)—R for Requisitionists. The Syndicate-dominated Congress came to be known as Congress (0)—0 for Organization. In the final countdown, 220 of the party’s Lok Sabha MPs went with Indira Gandhi and 68 with the Syndicate. In the All India Congress Committee too 446 of its 705 members walked over to Indira’s side. Indira Gandhi won 1971 elections with 2/3rd Majority.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://indiansaga.com/history/postindependence/split_congress.html

http://indiansaga.com/history/postindependence/final_blow.html

This Day in History (14-Aug-1980) – Centre nationalizes Maruti company

Maruti’s history begins in 1970, when a private limited company named ‘Maruti technical services private limited’ (MTSPL) is launched on November 16, 1970. The stated purpose of this company was to provide technical know-how for the design, manufacture and assembly of “a wholly indigenous motor car”. In June 1971, a company called ‘Maruti limited’ was incorporated under the Companies Act and Sanjay Gandhi became its first managing director. After a series of scandals, “Maruti Limited” goes into liquidation in 1977. This is followed by a commission of inquiry headed by Justice A. C. Gupta, which submits its report in 1978. On 23 June 1980, Sanjay Gandhi dies when a private test plane he was flying crashes. After his death, and at the behest of Indira Gandhi, the Indian Central government salvages Maruti Limited and starts looking for an active collaborator for a new company: Maruti Udyog Ltd being incorporated in the same year.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd was incorporated on February 24, 1981 with the name Maruti Udyog Ltd. The company was formed as a government company, with Suzuki as a minor partner, to make a people’s car for middle class India. Over the years, the company’s product range has widened, ownership has changed hands and the customer has evolved. In October 2, 1982, the company signed the license and joint venture agreement with Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan. In the year 1983, the company started their productions and launched Maruti 800. In the year 1984, they introduced Maruti Omni and during the next year, they launched Maruti Gypsy in the market. In the year 1987, the company forayed into the foreign market by exporting first lot of 500 cars to Hungary.

As of May 2007, the government of India sold its complete share to Indian financial institutions and no longer has any stake in Maruti Udyog. As of November 2012, Maruti had a market share of 37% of the Indian passenger car market. In February 2012, the company sold its ten millionth vehicle in India. Till recently the term “Maruti”, in popular Indian culture, was associated tothe Maruti 800 model.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.indiainfoline.com/Markets/Company/Background/Company-Profile/Maruti-Suzuki-India-Ltd/532500

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maruti_Suzuki

This Day in History (2-Jul-1972) – Shimla Treaty’ was singed between Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her Pakistani counterpart Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

During 1971 Bangladesh independence war, Pakistan attacked at several places along India’s western border with Pakistan, but the Indian army successfully held their positions. The Indian Army quickly responded to the Pakistan Army’s movements in the west and made some initial gains, including capturing around 5,500 square miles of Pakistan territory. The war came to a temporary halt with the signing of the Shimla Agreement. In the summit, which opened on 28 June 1972 in Shimla, Mrs. India Gandhi warmly welcomed Mr. Z A Bhutto.

The agreement was the result of resolve of both the countries to “put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations”. It conceived the steps to be taken for further normalization of mutual relations and it also laid down the principles that should govern their future relations. The agreement converted the cease-fire line of December 17, 1971 into the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan and it was agreed that “neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations”.

At the time of agreement, the victorious India had with her 90,000 prisoners of war and a large tract of Pakistani territory. In such a favourable state India could have turned a tough bargainer. However Mrs. Gandhi signed an agreement on the night of 2 July after a one-to-one meeting with Bhutto after the parties had packed their luggage for the return. “No one else was present”, but Mrs. Gandhi’s Secretary and economic advisor who was outside the room and has said that there was verbal understanding for a final settlement of the Kashmir question along with an agreement on the Line of Control. Land gained by India in Pakistani Kashmir, Pakistani Punjab and Sindh sectors was returned in the Simla Agreement of 1972, as a gesture of goodwill. There was widespread dissatisfaction in India about the Shimla Accord among the various nationalist outfits, intellectuals and patriots. Strongly condemning this agreement, A B Vajpayee, the leader of the Bharathiya Jana Sangh, described it as a “sell out”.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simla_Agreement

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistan_War_of_1971

http://www.peacekashmir.org/views-articles/2011/0607-secret-of-shimla-agreement.htm

This Day in History (12-Jun-1975) – Allahabad court voids Indira Gandhi’s election as premier, citing corruption at New Delhi

In the 1971 elections Raj Narain stood against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in her constituency of Rae Bareili in the state of U.P. Raj Narain lost with a huge margin. He brought out an election petition against Indira Gandhi alleging that she won the election by flouting the election laws. The suit was instituted against her in the Allahabad High Court. Raj Narain’s primary contention was that Indira Gandhi had infringed the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 during her campaign as she had been assisted by a Gazetted government officer who was on duty – Yashpal Kapur, the police, the armed forces, used government vehicles, exceeded the prescribed limit on campaign expenditure and had also distributed liquor and clothing to the voters in the constituency.

Hearing of the case began on 15 July 1971 before Justice B.N. Lokur, who rejected Raj Narain’s request of the prime minister being called to depose before the court and also for certain government documents be placed before the court so as the court could take cognizance of them. Raj Narain did not admit defeat and moved the Supreme Court where a 3-judge bench heard his request and allowed the appeal. The case proceeded in the Allahabad High court until 1974 when Mrs. Gandhi filed an appeal in the Supreme Court requesting “privilege” for not having to produce the “blue book” (Rules and Instructions for the Protection of Prime Minister when on Tour or in Travel) in the court as evidence. A bench of five Supreme Court judges allowed her appeal setting aside the order of the High Court demanding the production of the Blue Book, and directed the case to the High Court this time to be heard by a single judge, Justice J.L.Sinha.

The case was heard accordingly and the verdict was delivered on the 12th of June 1975 charging the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to be guilty of corrupt practice for having used the government officers in her campaign and unseating her from the membership of the Lok Sabha. Justice Sinha also granted the respondent’s a stay for 20 days on the verdict. The events subsequently led to the imposition of emergency in India.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.lawteacher.net/administrative-law/essays/administrative-law.php

http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/12/06/indira-jeeps-and-blue-books/

This Day in History (7-Jun-1984) – Indian Army troops stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest of Sikh shrines

The Khalistan Movement originally started in the early 1940’s and 50’s, but the movement was most popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Operation Blue Star was launched to eliminate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers who had sought cover in the Amritsar Harmandir Sahib Complex during demand of Khalistan. The armed Sikhs within the Harmandir Sahib were led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and former Maj. Gen. Shabeg Singh. In order to resolve crisis, Indira Gandhi first asked Lt. Gen. S. K. Sinha, then Vice-Chief of Indian Army and selected to become the next Army chief, to prepare a position paper for assault on the Golden Temple. Lt. Gen. Sinha advised against any such move and suggested the government adopt an alternative solution. A controversial decision was made to replace him with General Arun Shridhar Vaidya as the Chief of the Indian army. General Vaidya, assisted by Lt. Gen. K Sundarji as Vice-Chief, planned and coordinated Operation Blue Star.

Operation Blue Star was comprised of two operations: Operation Shop, which kept the curfew orders in check and Operation Metal, concerned to the Harmandir Sahib complex. On 3 June, a 36-hour curfew was imposed on the state of Punjab with all methods of communication and public travel suspended. Electricity supplies were also interrupted, creating a total blackout and cutting off the state from the rest of India and the world. Complete censorship was enforced on the news media. The Indian Army stormed Harmandir Sahib on the night of 5 June under the command of Kuldip Singh Brar. Army used tanks, heavy artillery, helicopters and armored vehicles.The forces had full control of Harmandir Sahib by the morning of 7 June. Sikh leaders Bhindranwale and Shabeg Singh were killed in the operation.

The Army placed total casualties at; other than military: 492 dead, Military: 136 killed and 220 wounded. Post Operation events claimed the life of a Prime Minister and subsequently the lives of over 8,000 Sikhs at the hands of vengeful mobs in 1984. General Vaidya also was gunned down within 2 years.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blue_Star

http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/The-Operation-Blue-Star-Papers/2014/02/09/article2045729.ece

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-7-things-you-need-to-know-about-operation-blue-star-1993952

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/shifting-to-pune-cost-gen-vaidya-his-life/article2015219.ece

http://www.india.com/top-n/operation-blue-star-15-facts-about-the-infamous-incident-inside-the-golden-temple-71125/

This Day in History (21-Mar-1977) – Internal Emergency, promulgated on June 25, 1975, withdrawn by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

“The Emergency” refers to a 21-month period in 1975–77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi unilaterally had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution for “internal disturbance”, the order bestowed upon the prime minister the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be suspended and civil liberties to be curbed. In the face of massive political opposition, desertion and disorder across the country and the party, Gandhi stuck to the advice of a few loyalists and her younger son Sanjay Gandhi, whose own power had grown considerably to become an “extra-constitutional authority”.

For much of the Emergency, most of Gandhi’s political opponents were imprisoned, many political & social organizations were banned and the press was censored. Several other atrocities were reported from the time. In Feb 1976, Indira managed to extend Loksabha’s duration by one more year. In Jan 1977, her own department did a survey and told her if she held the election during the Emergency she would return to power.Also Indira believed that the opposition was splintered and that elections would only accentuate the divide among them. And by winning the elections she could legitimise the Emergency and all that happened as part of it before the international community and also to formalise Sanjay Gandhi’s position. That, perhaps was the reason why she chose to announce the dissolution of the Lok Sabha on January 18, 1977. It was a courageous decision, considering the fact that she was under no visible compulsion to do so.

However opposition parties united together under leadership of Jayprakash Narayan and defeated Congress. Now that the political winds had changed and the opposition was in power with landslide majority and the emergency was still in effect, technically she found herself and her allies on the receiving end. She obviously couldn’t change the law overnight. So, she called off the emergency on 21st March and resigned the next evening on March 22, 1977.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emergency_(India)

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~ghosh20p/page2.html

http://www.quora.com/Why-did-Indira-Gandhi-suddenly-withdraw-emergency-in-1977