press trust of india
New Delhi, 4 August
The student uprising against the Chimanbhai Patel government in Gujarat had inspired Jayaprakash Narayan’s "Bihar Movement" during the turbulent ’70s that eventually led to the Emergency, according to official documents of the period.
In the youth of Gujarat, Jayaprakash saw the energy and the sparks for igniting a revolution in the eastern state that ultimately swept most of the nation.
A speech by the then Home Minister Brahmananda Reddi in Rajya Sabha on 21 July, 1975 on the resolution for approval of the Proclamation of Emergency on 26 June, establishes the chronological link between the two states and shows how Jayaprakash found an impetus from the “student movement” in the western state. Reddi quotes JP, as Jayaprakash was popularly known, by invoking his statement in Everyman’s Weekly of 3 August, 1974 in which he had said: “For years I was groping to find a way out. In fact while my objectives have never changed, I have all along been searching for the right way to achieve it. I wasted two years trying to bring about a politics of consensus. It came to nothing… Then I saw students in Gujarat bring about a political change with the backing of the people… and knew that this was the way out.”
The speech, among other reports, are part of the Emergency-era documents accessed recently at the National Archives of India.
One of the documents, a seven-chapter report dated 11 July, 1975 and bearing the Intelligence Bureau label on the top cover, points to the Gujarat agitation, its implication on the "Bihar Movement" and how the latter became a precursor to the Emergency.
Under the firebrand JP, the agitation in Bihar took the shape of a ‘Total Revolution’ and the initial demand for resignation of the then Ghafoor ministry in the state ultimately turned into a larger demand for dismissal of Indira Gandhi government. The IB report’s chapter two, titled The Gujarat experiment, tells about the students’ stir there and how it culminated into President’s rule in the state that witnessed violence.
The unrest on 19-20 December, 1973 over the issue of high mess charges eventually turned violent and the disturbance continued in Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda and Rajkot reaching a peak on 27 January, necessitating deployment of the army.
“The possibility of repeating ‘Gujarat’ in Bihar loomed large in the political thinking of the partners of the ‘Grand Alliance’ during early 1974,” tells the fourth chapter ~ Extension of Gujarat to Bihar.
Students in Bihar had been agitating since early 1974 over economic and academic demands and on 18 March, “instigated by the opposition political parties” they announced a demonstration, when they threatened not to allow the Governor to proceed to the Assembly chamber for his annual address to the joint session of the legislature, the report says.
Agitations continued in Patna and soon spread to other towns in the state. On February 19, 1975, a rally of 50,000 people was organised in Patna which was addressed by JP followed by a march to the All India Radio station. Bandhs were called in Ara on April 3 and in Muzaffarpur on April 4 and on April 6, a call for “Bihar Bandh” received good response in few cites, according to the report.
JP’s agitation continued and grew in size and impact from Patna’s Gandhi Maidan to Delhi’s Ramlila Ground as the socialist leader undertook tours of various states including Maharashtra, Haryana, UP, West Bengal, Odisha, MP, Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi to mobilise support for his “Total Revolution” and to chalk out plans in furtherance of the movement.
As the campaign gained momentum, a state of emergency was declared by the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed on 25 June, 1975, after a request from Indira Gandhi, asking the Proclamation to be made on account of “imminent danger to the security of India being threatened by internal disturbance”.