Thursday, March 30, 2017

40 years since the end of the Emergency

It is now 40 years since the end of the Emergency promulgated by Indira Gandhi on June 26, 1975.  It ended when in the general elections on March 21, 1977, she and the Congress Party were thrown out and the Janata Party won by an overwhelming majority.

It is a time many of us will never forget, especially the night of March 21 when the counting on ballots was taking place.  There were no electronic machines then. Ballots had to be counted physically.  And there were no 24-hour news channels to breathlessly follow the results.  So we could only stand outside counting centres and wait as someone came out and announced who was in the lead.

I remember standing with friends outside my old college, Elphinstone College in Kala Ghoda.  It was the counting centre for south Bombay.  We were all rooting for a man we had never heard of earlier, and most of us had never seen him.  His name was Ratansih Rajda of the Janata Party.  All I remember about him is that he always wore a white safari suit!

The excitment grew as the counting built up to a crescendo late into the evening and Rajda was declared elected!

By then, those of us in newspapers had gathered that there was a Janata wave of sorts through the ticker copy on PTI and UNI.  But the full extent of the victory was only known the next morning, when almost all the votes had been counted.

It is hard to describe the euphoria.  Most of us had not slept at all that night.  People were standing outside all the counting centres.  In south Bombay, people hung around Marine Drive and soon celebrations began.

For many of us, this election was our first where we actually felt involved in the political process.

I was reminded of all this today as Naresh Fernandes, editor of Scroll.in posted an article I wrote about Himmat and the Emergency.  Here's the link for those who did not read it earlier:

https://scroll.in/article/735844/himmat-during-the-emergency-when-the-press-crawled-some-refused-to-even-bend


1 comment:

Raghavan S said...

"Ulti Khopdi" as I understand is to discuss the other side of gender viz issues related to females. Surprised to see an article totally not relevant to gender yet appearing here. Of course as a journalist, the author is free to write but readers like me following every nitty gritty of finest writers of India get caught unawares and do not relish much.