India will go to the polls in the third week of March to elect a new Lok Sabha. The necessary proclamations will be issued shortly. The Emergency is being relaxed but not lifted. Mrs Gandhi assured in her broadcast at night that there will be further relaxation to enable political parties to place their point of view before the electorate. Mrs Gandhi gave the indication of elections to her Cabinet colleagues at an emergency meeting of the Cabinet. She reportedly said that the prospects of democracy must have its way and that all parties must go back to the people, who were the real masters. After the cabinet meeting, Mrs Gandhi drove straight to Rashtrapati Bhawan. In the same cabinet room, the chief ministers, who were in Delhi to review the progress of the 25-point programme, met soon after the cabinet meeting. Mrs Gandhi conveyed the news to them. Later, she made a broadcast to the nation to announce the elections. The Congress Working Committee also met to endorse the PM’s decision. The present Lok Sabha was constituted on March 19, 1971. Its life was extended twice.
CPI Welcomes Polls
The Prime Minister’s announcement to hold Lok Sabha elections was welcomed by the opposition leaders Bhupesh Gupta and Indrajit Gupta. Trade Union leader S.M. Banerjee said their party welcomed the government’s decision to seek a fresh mandate.
Morarji, Advani Free
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Morarji Desai, Old Congress leader and former deputy PM, said the nation could not be strong without freedom from fear. Addressing the media hours after his release from detention since June 26, 1975, Desai said: “Individuals will come and go but the nation has to be strong and fearless.” He said the sudden election announcement gave little time for election propaganda and was unfair to the opposition. L.K. Advani of the Jana Sangh was released along with Desai.
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