Mrs Indira Gandhi is back on the election trail, and has shown signs of recovering from her political setbacks.
Mrs Indira Gandhi is back on the election trail, and has shown signs of recovering from her political setbacks. First came the Shaw Commission's indictments on charges of subverting the Constitution and other excesses. Then, the most recent condemnation has come from the Gupta Commission investigating her son Sanjay's abortive car project. The Commission's first report released by the Janta Party says that the impetus behind official wrongdoings came from Mrs Gandhi personally and Ministers and officials had gone along out of fear of reprisals. But when she launched her campaign, Mrs Gandhi's supporters showed little sign of being affected by these revelations.
SYNOPSIS: After seeking the benediction of the Lord of Seven Hills, in the temple town of Tirupati, Mrs Gandhi launched her Congress campaign.
Mrs Gandhi, arrived at the municipal grounds where a large crowd tried to cover her with garlands. The rallying cry was "bring back Indira to save the country". In a recent opinion poll, she was the most popular politician and first choice as Prime Minister for forty-eight percent of the people.
Mrs Gandhi's closest opponent in her fight back to power, according to recent surveys, is caretaker Prime Minister Charan Singh. The surveys also indicated a consensus that President Sanjiva Reddy was right to call a mid-term general election.
In her speech in Tirupati, Mrs Gandhi launched a blistering attack on the Janata Party. The provincial Revenue Minister in Andra Pradesh, Jaganadha Reddy translated her English speech into the local dialect of Telegu. Mrs Gandhi accused the Janata Party of failures of many fronts. She claimed the government frittered away the reserves built up by her Congress government, and accused them of ruining the economy. She said they had also failed to guarantee the safety and security of the Harijans (Untouchables) and other minorities, and had lowered the country's international prestige.
Observers say Mrs Gandhi seems to be as popular as ever, and that the eighteen-months State of Emergency which she declared while she was Prime Minister is not at present hindering her election prospects.