The Janata Party (People's Party) was an amalgam of Indian political parties opposed to the State of Emergency that was imposed between 1975 and 1977 by the government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her party, the Indian National Congress (R). In the general election held after the end of the state of emergency in 1977, the Janata party defeated Congress (R) to form the first non-Congress government in the history of the Republic of India.
Raj Narain, a socialist leader, had filed a legal writ alleging electoral malpractice against Gandhi in 1971. On 12 June 1975, Allahabad High Court found her guilty of using corrupt electoral practices in her 1971 election victory over Narain in the Rae Bareli constituency. She was barred from contesting any election for the next six years. Economic problems, corruption and the conviction of Gandhi led to widespread protests against the Congress (R) government, which responded by imposing a State of Emergency. The rationale was that of preserving national security. However, the government introduced press censorship, postponed elections and banned strikes and rallies. Opposition leaders such as Jayaprakash Narayan, Jivatram Kripalani and Morarji Desai were imprisoned, along with thousands of other political activists. When the State of Emergency was lifted and new elections called in 1977, opposition political parties such as the Congress (O), Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Bharatiya Lok Dal as well as defectors from the Congress (R) joined to form the Janata party, which won a sweeping majority in the Indian Parliament. Narain defeated Gandhi at Rae Bareilly in those elections.
The new Janata-led government reversed many Emergency-era decrees and opened official investigations into Emergency-era abuses. Although several major foreign policy and economic reforms were attempted, continuous in-fighting and ideological differences made the Janata government unable to effectively address national problems. By mid-1979, Prime Minister Morarji Desai was forced to resign and his successor Chaudhary Charan Singh failed to sustain a parliamentary majority as alliance partners withdrew support. Popular disenchantment with the political in-fighting and ineffective government led to the resurgence of Gandhi and her new Congress (I) party, which won the general election called in 1980. Although the original Janata Party fragmented and dissolved, modern political parties continue to invoke its legacy.
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