INTRODUCTION: In India voting in the general election starts on Wednesday (16 March). Campaigning has?
INTRODUCTION: In India voting in the general election starts on Wednesday (16 March). Campaigning has been vigorous, with opposition parties using the struggle to retain democracy as their main platform. In Delhi on Friday (11 March) hundreds of students belonging to the youth wing of the opposition Janata People's Party staged a demonstration -- among the first to be seen in the city since the state of emergency was declared in June 1975.
SYNOPSIS: The youth movement was protesting against what they describe as "highly partisan attitudes" in favour of Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi's ruling Congress Party by the All India Radio and Television and the Samachar news agency. In a demonstration manifesto, the Janata youth movement -- known as the Loktantrik Yuva Morcha -- accused All India Radio of broadcasting "a constant stream of lies, half truth and distortions."
The students marched through streets of Delhi carrying placards and chanting slogans, but when they approached the radio station and news agency headquarters they were stopped at some distance from the buildings by riot police. The students maintain that All India Radio is "blind to the realities of the present political and socio-economic situation" and that "the views of opposition leaders are deliberately distorted to disgrace them".
In criticism of the Samachar news agency the youth movement points out that as it is financed by public funds it has a duty to produce balanced and truthful reporting, rather than what the Morcha describes as "hand-outs in support of Congress". Other accusations include the suggestion that "all that is said by Mrs. Indira Gandhi is treated as a 'sacred cow'".
Earlier Janata People's Party Chairman Morarji Desai had been rounding off his election campaign in his home state of Gujarat. In the town of Thasra, in the Kheda district, he said that he had seen a general upsurge among people all over the country to remove the Congress Party from power. He added that the united opposition, under the banner of the Janata Party, was committed to lift the emergency, restore civil rights, freedom of the press and independence of the judiciary.