Wednesday 27 July 2016
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'Indira Is India,India Is Indira'; JP's Crusade...

After the Bangladesh triumph,Indira Gandhi,‘empress of India’,storms into power with a massive mandate. She is Durga,invincible. She hones her populist moves:having already nationalised banks,she abolishes privy purses in 1972,stops food imports and coins the slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’. She becomes increasingly autocratic and imperious,purging Congress of any possible dissenters. Sycophants surround her with Dev Kant Barooah declaring ‘Indira is India,India is Indira’. In 1974,the ‘peaceful’ nuclear explosion at Pokharan shocks the world but heightens nationalistic fer vour and pride. India gets closer to the Soviet Union through a 20-year friendship pact and is estranged from the Western Bloc. Ironically, her landslide victory in 1972 sets the clock ticking for her downfall.

‘Dilli ki rani dekho janta kiske saath hai’becomes the slogan around Jayaprakash Narayan. He emerges out of retirement as the staunch critic of autocracy and corruption and the fulcrum of the anti-Indira movement. He inspires the Nav Nirman student movement against Chimanbhai Patel,sets the basis for ‘total revolution’in Bihar. JP’s message of Gandhian socialism makes him a mass leader in the tradition of the Mahatma. George Fernandes leads a national railway strike which is crushed by the government through 20,000 arrests. Future leaders Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav are groomed in JP’s stables. At a rally in Patna,JP defies the police raj by fearlessly riding out to the spot in a jeep with only two companions. By his example, thousands begin to stream onto the streets. In the ensuing police lathicharge and tear-gassing, JP is injured but resolute. The Allahabad high court upholds the plea of former wrestler Raj Narain (right) accusing Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices. Narain’s maverick style is responsible for Indira Gandhi’s disintegration—and also,later, of the Janata Party.

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OUTLOOK: 18 August, 1997
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