ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Indian Summer

Vol XII Nos 6, 7 and 8 February 1977 An Indian Summer? THE decision to hold the elections to the Lok Sabha has not resolved some of the outstanding problems besetting the Indian polity. Whether by intent or otherwise, the Prime Minister herself has recently drawn pointed atten- tion to them. A good journalist, she is reported to have observed to a group of newspapermen who called upon her last month. is a seeker after truth "which is in the best interests of the country''. At about the same time, while announcing the relaxation of the rigours of the provisions of the Emergency for the duration of the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, she granted to the opposition groups the right to "legitimate political acti- vity". E M,S Namboodiripad has immediately come out with the query: who is going to define what variants of political activity are legitimate and which ones are not? Similarly, one can well ask, who is to decide what is and is not 'in the best interests of the country? As things have developed in the course of the past 20 months, the authorities have assumed the responsibility to define both legitimacy' in political activity and 'true national interests'; and in these matters they have not appreciated any second set of definitions. It is the ruling party's dominant leadership which advised the President on June 25, 1975 that an Emergency had to be declared in the national interests. And it is again on the advice of the same group of leadership that certain types of political activities have not been permitted since. In fact, over this period, in most parts of the country all open air public meetings by even recognised opposition parties remained banned on the proffered ground that such meetings did not belong to the genre of 'legitimacy'. At the same time, official censors sat in judgment on what could or could not be printed, the criteria applied once more being 'true national interests'; thus it is that the authorities, on the plea of serving 'true national interests', went to the length of censoring passages from Mahatma Gandhi, Rabin- dranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sarat Chandra Chatterjee.

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