The Crisis of Democratic Order
Indira Gandhi became the most influential personality during 1970s. After 1971, tug of war started between the government and judiciary. The Supreme Court declared several government decisions as anti-Constitutional. The Congress alleged the Court as undemocratic and advocated parliament supremacy. In 1971 elections, Congress used the slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ but there was no improvement in the socio-economic conditions. The Bangladesh crises created pressure on the economy. Indo-Pak War of 1971 added fuel to the fire. The US stopped all aid to India after the war. In Gujarat Morarji Desai of Congress (O) announced indefinite fast to uphold the opposition demand. In June 1975, elections were held and Congress was defeated in those elections. In Bihar Jayaprakash Narayana (JP) was invited to lead the student movement. Different opposition parties rallied behind Jayaprakash Narayana.
There was conflict between government and the Judiciary. The Parliament abolished the right to property and the Court held that the Parliament is not empowered to modify the Constitution like this. The ruling of the High Court, which declared Indira Gandhi's election as invalid added fuel to the fire. After the Allahabad High Court declaration, the opposition parties demanded Indira Gandhi’s resignation. In response, on the night of 25 June 1975, government declared state of emergency under Article 352. Next morning, most of opposition leaders and workers were arrested. The agitations and strikes were banned. Press Censorship was proclaimed. The fundamental rights were suspended. As a consequence the 42nd Amendment was passed and eminent journalist was arrested. Indira and her supporters argued that Emergency was must whereas, opposition parties were against it. The critics argued that the government used unnecessary draconian measures like Emergency. Emergency showed the loopholes in the provision regarding Emergency in the Constitution. It created awareness for civil liberties.
The 1977 elections turned into referendum. Government that was perceived to be anti-democratic was severely punished by the voters. In the Lok Sabha Elections of 1977 results of elections revealed the defeat of Congress. Janata party lacked direction, leadership and a common programme. It provided an unstable government and as a result Morarji Desai lost majority within 18 months. In 1980 Elections Congress got 353 seats. The Congress now recognized itself as a party for poor and deprived people.