Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Elections and Euphoria

Tomorrow  is election time in Bhubaneswar. We have slowed down on many of our activities to observe the election code of conduct.

I had my first taste of election in 1977. 

I joined college in 1976. It was emergency them. Mrs. Indira Gandhi has been critisized by everyone for declaring emergency. Of course, freedom was curtailed for everyone. There was no freedom of press. There was general sense of fear around. One of friend's father who was a labour union activist was arrested and put into prison. However, as a young student, my observation was that classes ran on time. Professors came to the class on time. The examinations were held on time. My college had a history of being banned by the university due to unruly student behaviour. This was a thing of past during the emergency.

In 1977, the emergency was lifted. The general elections was called. The Janata Party was formed by everyone other than congress. We watched with great excitement the as the Janata party gained momentum. The leaders of the party were tall and famous. George Fernadez, Charan Singh, Biju Patnaik, Morarji Desai, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jagajivan Ram were some of them. We all rooted for Janata Party. Of course, we could not vote as we were underage. When the results were being declared, we gathered aroung the Soochna Bhavan. We completely enjoyed the drama and suspense of the results being declared. Janata party won by a thumping majority. We were all euphoric. There was a sense of deja vu all around. Morarji became the first non-congress Prime Minister. 

My first disappointment surfaced when my college union called for a strike to make some demands. There were no classes for a few month. Fortunately for us the final examinations were held on time. The same chaos surfaced the the central government with parties within the janata party fighting with each other and the Government collapsed in 1980.

China at that time going through transition and lais the roots for its economic resurgence. They were liberalizing like there is no tomorrow. In India, the Janata Government threw out Coca Cola and IBM.

In my view, no election will ever be as exciting and euphoric as the one in 1977.

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