Monday, December 06, 2021

Forty Years Ago, February 7, 1977: JP at Ramlila Ground

Interrupted by enthusiastic cheers, JP stressed that the question this time was not whether the Janata Party or the Congress won. “The question is whether you and your children and the country will be free or slaves.”


February 7, 2017 2:05:12 am

Addressing lakhs of people from the Ramlila Ground rostrum, Jayaprakash Narayan gave a call to the people not to miss this opportunity to choose between freedom and slavery — for the country, for themselves and children. Packed crowds at Ramlila Ground heard JP and leaders of the Janata Party, the Akali Dal and the Congress for Democracy. Interrupted by enthusiastic cheers, JP stressed that the question this time was not whether the Janata Party or the Congress won. “The question is whether you and your children and the country will be free or slaves.” “When you stamp your vote,” he reiterated, “you will also stamp yours and the country’s fate. If you miss this opportunity, you may never be able to hold any such meeting in Delhi again.” JP regretted that there was an atmosphere of fear in the country. It was a matter of shame that the people’s minds should be so weakened that they become victims of fear. When there was the fear of the British, Gandhiji came and dispelled it from the minds of the people. On arrests during the Emergency, he said, “God knows what this democracy means” and “what was the crime of these people. Many people were still in jails.”

PM’s Retort

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi reiterated her own as well as the Congress party’s faith in parliamentary democracy. At the same time, she brushed aside the opposition contention that the issue before the people for the next month’s Lok Sabha elections is democracy versus dictatorship.

Jyotirmoyi Basu Free

CPM leader and MP of the dissolved Lok Sabha, Jyotirmoyi Basu, was set free after being kept in detention for over 19 months. Basu, who was released from the SMS Hospital in Jaipur, where he was undergoing treatment for a heart ailment, was given an ovation by CPM cadre with shouts of “lal salam”.

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