INTRODUCTION The first election rally by India's Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi ended in disorder?
INTRODUCTION The first election rally by India's Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi ended in disorder on Saturday (5 January). About 100,000 people gathered in the old city area of New Delhi to hear Mrs. Gandhi's speech, but before she began there were scuffles in the crowd and the beginnings of a walkout.
SYNOPSIS: Mrs. Gandhi managed to hold the crowd's attention for about 25 minutes after the organisers and police stopped a general movement out of the arena when two of her colleagues were speaking. One of the main speakers cut short his address after only five minutes and another didn't speak.
Mrs. Gandhi's facing what could be the gravest challenge in her political career. Observers quoted by Reuters news agency say Saturday's rally was one of the most unsympathetic she has addressed for several years. They say that at past rallies, including several massive ones held just before she declared a state of emergency in June 1975, crowds waited for hours for her to speak and then responded enthusiastically.
In her speech, Mrs. Gandhi admitted there had been some "excesses" since the emergency. She said she admitted that people had been unhappy with some of the government's programmes. The programmes were not bad, she said, but the implementation was faulty.
Mrs. Gandhi spoke for only 25 minutes in Hindi, considerably shorter than her usual performances. She also failed to add her normal brief address in English. Opposition sources claim the meeting was a complete flop.
A better indication of the electoral mood, particularly in New Delhi, was expected after the opposition Janata party leaders addressed a rally on Sunday (6 February).