But for Indira Gandhi’s extremely repressive measures, it is doubtful if the four ideologically diverse parties could have come together to form the Janata Party and unseat the Congress nationally for the first time after 1947.
Despite some moves towards unity in the run up to the Emergency rule clamped in June 1975, opposition leaders were poles apart as they cooled their heels in prisons or were on parole on health grounds in the mid-1970s.
Imprisonment of course provided a great opportunity to leaders at various levels of the Jana Sangh, Old Congress, Socialist Party and Lok Dal to exchange views on the road ahead. But with no sign as to when the Emergency would end, if at all, some even contemplated surrendering to the government.
This is when an overconfident Indira Gandhi, otherwise an astute political animal, made a blunder. She concluded on the basis of all that she knew that a snap general election would tear apart the egoistic opposition stalwarts.
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