INTRODUCTION: A powerful new political machine has been formed in India to fight the running Congress Party of Prime Minister Mrs.
INTRODUCTION: A powerful new political machine has been formed in India to fight the running Congress Party of Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the March general election. The new party is an alliance of established non-Communist opposition organisations -- and brings together some of the most powerful figures in Indian politics.
SYNOPSIS: The new alliance, calling itself the Janata Party, was officially launched at a news conference in New Delhi on Sunday (23 January) by Mr. Morarji Desai, who was elected Chairman. Eighty-year-old Mr. Desai, a former deputy prime minister, was jailed under emergency powers declared by Mrs. Gandhi in June 1975. He told the conference the new party had a very good chance of winning the election, and criticised the government's delay in releasing political prisoners. He also called for equal air time on the government-owned national radio and television networks, questioning their objectivity in putting over election coverage.
Another leading opposition statesman, Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan, made the hardest public attack yet on the Government since it lifted news censorship a week earlier in preparation for the election. The voters' choice was simple, he said -- between democracy, and a fascist-type dictatorship. Mr. Desai followed him with his attack on political detention.