Sunday, November 1, 2009

A.K.Antony's new explanation for Emergency rule in India

It has been 25 years since the death of India Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India. On October 31 1984. she was brutally gunned down by her own body guards. Many newspapers brought out commemorative articles about Indira Gandhi and her legacy. Many leaders also paid their tributes to her. The most interesting tribute came from our Defense Minister A.K.Antony. In his tribute published in Congress daily Malayala Manorama, A.K.Antony has an interesting explanation for the infamous imposition of Emergency rule in India in 1975 by Indira Gandhi. As it is in Malayalam let me translate it.

A.K.Antony wrote

"Indira Gandhi was not in favor of emergency. Proclamation of Emergency rule was only her response to Jayaprakash Narayan asking the Army to lead a revolt against the political leadership."

So Jayaprakash Narayan is responsible for the Emergency rule in India, according to A.K.Antony.Not Indira Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi.

This is the typical victim blaming ideology of the oppressor.

What was the real reason for Emergency?

On June 12, 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court found the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty on the charge of misuse of government machinery for her election campaign. The court declared her election null and void and unseated her from her seat in the Lok Sabha. The court also banned her from contesting any election for an additional six years.

Instead of resigning and appealing against the verdict in the Supreme Court, Indira Gandhi declared a State of Emergency citing threat to National Security and brought Indian Democracy to a grinding halt.

What did Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan did?

JP was in effect the main opposition to Indira Gandhi's despotic rule. When it became clear that Indira Gandhi was not going to obey the Constitutional provisions and laws by resigning as Prime Minister and was contemplating Emergency, he called for mass agitation to force her to resign. In that famous rally in Ramlila Grounds in Delhi he asked Government servants, Police and the Army to disobey Indira Gandhi as she has no legal right to remain in the seat of Prime Minister.

A.K.Antony do not find fault in Indira clinging on to power for almost 2 weeks after the Court order but blames JP for raising voice against her attempt to undermine democracy.

The irony is that the same A.K.Antony has resigned in protest against Indira Gandhi being given ticket to contest in a by election by the Congress in 1978.He was also supposed to be a strong opponent of Emergency.


  1. He needs to hold on to power now so if it means sucking up to the Gandhi family, so be it...

  2. That cleared a lot of things for me :)

    It is hard to find the truth from magazines and newspapers. Most of them have an agenda or support one ideology more than the other.

  3. Bones,
    My feeling is he wants to be seen as on the right side of the people every time. So if his party looses popularity he may jump out again as he did in 1978.

  4. Layman,
    Indira Gandhi did appeal in the Supreme Court and the case was adjourned for a larger bench.But in an interim order Justice V.R.Krishna Iyyer said she can legally continue to attend Parliament till Supreme Court's final verdict but without voting power. Indira Gandhi,in the interest of the nation should have stepped down then and made someone else the Prime Minister.She could have ruled from behind as she had complete control over the party.Elections were only few months away and she could have tried to get a fresh mandate from the people by dissolving the Parliament early.
    But she was unsure of success in elections as the JP movement was very strong in North India.That might have been the reason for declaring emergency. The fact that Indira Gandhi was ready with implementing emergency even before JP's speech on June 25th is evident from several sources. The huge success of the rally made her implement Emergency rules the very next day.
    I will recommend reading Kuldip Nayar's books on Emergency namely 'In Jail' and 'The Judgement'

  5. Thanks for the recommendations.
    Will surely read them.

    I was planning on reading Katherine Frank's Indira but was not sure whether it covered the Emergency neutrally.

  6. 1. Malayala Manorama has a right wing slant but it is NOT congress newspaper.

    2. Antony made to congress(A) which joined hands with CPI against Congress (Indira)

    3. Emergency is a black/dark period in Indian democracy. Lets bury past deep & move forward

  7. Welcome Anonymous here, Nice to see a comment after so many months. I stand corrected. I should have written pro Congress newspaper. But you may agree that Manorama is the strongest supporter of Congress among all newspapers in India. Antony jumped out of a sinking Congress to become the part of Left Govt in Kerala. Emergency is certainly the darkest hour of Indian democracy. I feel it should never be forgotten. We should always learn from it and do whatever possible to prevent its repetition. It is important because a family and a Party who believes they know what is best for India is still ruling India.


Comments are welcome especially if you do not think like me. But anonymous comments behind masks and those not relevant to the post are not encouraged.