Indira Gandhi ,India’s most powerful Prime Minister earned the epithet of Goddess Durga after winning the war of 1971 with Pakistan .

She dismembered the belligerent Pakistan into two distinct nations , Bangladesh and present Pakistan ,bruising further its pride by making 90,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendering to the Indian Army.

Pakistan was in a shambles.

Winning a spectacular victory in the general elections in 1971, Indira Gandhi had become the most popular leader with the people showering love and affection from every nook and corner of the country.Her popularity among the Indian masses was unbelievable and reached its zenith.

The opposition gathered momentum, after being decimated in the general elections , especially under the stalwarts ,Morarji Desai , Atal Bihar vajpayee, L.K.Advani and Jayprakash Narain popularly known as JP,   the slogan of “Indira Hatao” became more strident day in and day out.

Indira Gandhi sensed the trouble brewing and in a bid to cling to power she decided to act swiftly.

Nearly 43 years ago(25th June 1975) the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed emergency by making announcement on All India Radio “ The President has declared a state of emergency. There is no need to panic”

Within hours all opposition leaders including the stalwarts L.K.Advani, Morarji Desai, Atal Vajpayee, and veteran freedom fighter Jai Prakash Narayan , with scores of junior senior leaders were put behind the bars.

Hush fell on the country and a strange fear, never experienced before ,gripped the Nation .

It would be interesting to understand and analyse the reasons for then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for imposing the emergency.

The reasons could be as follows

Hunger for power

In democracy it is always dangerous to eulogize a person to deific stature, thereby allowing him to concentrate power and pelf leading ultimately to the authoritarian rule, harmful to the pluralism inclusive society and the people at large.

This is what happened to Indira Gandhi. She became authoritarian and wanted to cling to power by any means fair or foul.

Morarji Desai factor in Gujrat.

Morarji Desai losing out twice(1967 and 1971) to Indira Gandhi in the race for Prime Ministership , nurtured a deep rancour in his heart and in a bid to take revenge supported the student agitation of L.D.College of Engineering in Ahmadabad so much so that he launched fast unto death agitation in support of the student demands. The main demand ,among others ,was dismissal of Chiman bhai Patel Govt.

Indira Gandhi blinked and put Gujrat under the President’s rule in February 1974.

Bihar Student Agitation.

The students of Patna University launched an agitational movement in Bihar in March 1974. The agitation flared up with the students of other universities joining the fray.. But Abdul Ghafoor government repressed it with iron hands.

J P Narayan, the veteran Gandhian leapt out of his political hibernation ,and led the student movement describing it as “Total revolution” to overthrow Indira Gandhi regime.

JP’s leading the students movement  spreading to other states assumed  a national campaign .

JP Narrain and Morarji Desai organised a rally at Ramlila   Maidan in New Delhi on June 25, 1975 .At this rally, JP made a call to army and police not to follow the orders of Indira Gandhi government.

Morarji Desai declared , “We intend to overthrow her, force her to resign”   “the lady won’t survive our movement.” He concluded angrily.

Raj Narain Petition

Raj Narain ,after defeat in 1971 , filed a petition in Allahabad High Court contesting the victory of Indira Gandhi from Rai Bareilly Constitution on the plea of malpractices  by misusing her official position,

On June 12 1975 ,Allahabad High Court delivered verdict against Indira Gandhi ,holding her guilty of malpractices.

The order was subject to appeal in Supreme Court.

The top lawyer NaniPalikiwala filed the case of Indira Gandhi in the Supreme Court.

The vacation bench under justice VK Krishna Iyer ordered stay on Allahabad High Court Judgement on June 24 1975.


Doubtless , apart from the reasons explained,the call by JP Narain to Army and police in the rally of Ramlila Maidan for disobeying the orders of Indira Gandhi must have finally  ignited the cinders to the proclamation of Emegency by Indira Gandhi.

Despite grave provocations from the Opposition Indira Gandhi should have maintained restraint and not resorted to the imposition of Emergency.

Instead she should have resorted to other political manoeuvres to defeat the Opposition’s willful strategy of deriding ,decrying and dethroning her .


  1. It is true that in a democratic set up there is no place for such things as declaring “ emergency”
    The observations and conclusions made in the article seem to be based on facts and very much relevant.
    Again a very good article.


  2. One of the best detailed article on the most controversial topics.
    Indira was most powerful leader and put allopposition in jails to perpetuate her rule.


  3. But in democracy it is not desirable to clamp emergency taking away rights of the citizens may be temporarily.
    Of course Indira later revoked emergency and declared elections thus restoring democracy back after nearly 21.months.


  4. A nice blog as always…

    It’s always easy to analyse an situation in future and as a third person. However, one who is going through the circumstances is the best judge. Today, after so many years it’s very easy for us to say that emergency should not have been imposed, but just imagine of other possibilities had emergency not imposed. We have examples of military coup in our neighborhood itself and it has its own disadvantages.
    In life it’s never a right or wrong decesion.
    In my opinion, what Indira ji did was right in the given circumstances, even though I do not support emergency in democratic setup


  5. I never knew that so much had gone in imposing emergency though i believe in the democratic thread of freedom but personally i feel Indira was much more than a greedy or authoritarian leader to impose emergency just to be in power


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