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January 20, 1977, Forty Years Ago: JP Responds

Jayaprakash Narayan welcomed the decision to hold the general election, but said he was sorry that “in her characteristic way she (Indira Gandhi) has again been unjust to the opposition by giving them very little time to prepare’’.

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January 20, 2017 12:33:43 am

JP Responds

Jayaprakash Narayan welcomed the decision to hold the general election, but said he was sorry that “in her characteristic way she (Indira Gandhi) has again been unjust to the opposition by giving them very little time to prepare’’. JP, however, hoped the opposition “will rise to the occasion and fight the election unitedly as one party”. He said opposition parties “have wasted so much time over this essential step (unity) that should have been taken a year ago.” To another question, he said: “If the opposition parties merge into a single party, it will have my blessings. Otherwise, I shall dissociate myself from the election.’’ He said, “For the election to be free, the Emergency must be lifted, citizens’ rights restored and all political prisoners released.”

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The Marxist leader, E.M.S. Namboodirippad, said there could not be free and fair elections under the Emergency. He posed two questions to the government: Will the opposition be free to tell the people all the doings of the government during the last six years, including the Emergency? Will the opposition manifesto be free from censorship? The main demand would be that the Emergency should be lifted, all detained political activists be let off, MISA and the DIR should go and the Press Objectionable Matters Act should be withdrawn, he said.

Opposition Meet

Leaders of the four non-communist opposition parties — the Old Congress, Jana Sangh, Bharatiya Lok Dal and the Socialist Party — met at the residence of the former deputy prime minister, Morarji Desai, to explore the possibility of their merger into a single democratic party, which can be projected as an alternative to the Congress.

Censorship May Go

Press censorship imposed under the Emergency 18 months ago is likely to be lifted in a couple of days.

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First published on: 20-01-2017 at 12:33:43 am
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