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Mrs Gandhi storms back, MGR unshaken in his fortress

Mrs Gandhi storms back, MGR unshaken in his fortress

Teething troubles, if any, had been overcome and IE was ensconced in its own office and worked on its own machinery,  all set to expand its horizon. But the country was not in the best of conditions. The years 1978-83, in fact, proved to be tumultuous for national and regional politics and industry alike, highlighted by the disappointing failure of the Janata experiment and the consequent return of Indira Gandhi to power. 

Not everything of course was black.Ms Gandhi introduced colour television to coincide with the staging of the prestigious Asiad in New Delhi. The tumultuous five years had one assured result: every issue of IE had absorbing commentary and analysis of the enveloping developments in politics and industry. Cartoons added welcome spice.  The period under review, among others, included a special focus on steel plants and the celebration of Lakshmi Mills’ 1001st loom with a report on how they transitioned to produce automatic looms. There was also an issue devoted to the Press in Madras. Of this later.

 

Fall of the Janata government...

An article in the December 1979 issue mentions 1979 as the “bad old year” for Indian politics. The period 1977-79, with the Janata Party at the helm, promised much. Prime Minister Morarji Desai, spoke of bringing together strong economic and financial policies. Nevertheless, owing to the absence of strong ideological unity to support political and economic initiatives, the Morarji Desai government resigned without daring to face a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha. The Charan Singh government that followed proved worse, barely managing to limp through three weeks. The Lok Dal group failed to face parliament, which was ultimately dissolved. 

Plunging into a period of political uncertainty, the nation witnessed elections in January 1980. It resulted in a landslide victory for the Indira Gandhi-led Congress party. What was surprising was not the victory by itself, but the winning margin in almost every state. This was a clear expression of the popular revulsion at the bungling ineptitude of the Janata and its splinter, the Lok Dal. The Janata party, which was but a coalition, was composed of disparate groups and the members never worked as a team, demonstrating shocking incapacity for action. Sanjay Gandhi’s unexpected death in a tragic accident when the plane he was piloting crashed in Delhi proved more than just a personal tragedy. An ‘adviser’ on whom the mother tended to lean heavily, his death was a shattering blow to Mrs Gandhi. It was known that many of her government’s decisions were based on his advice. 

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