The Government of Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, sought parliamentary approval on Monday (21 July)?
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Background: The Government of Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, sought parliamentary approval on Monday (21 July) for the decision to clamp the country under the new state of emergency. An official motion to extend the emergency powers was presented to Parliament's Lower House - the Lok Sabha - when it recovered for it's one-week long "monsoon" session in New Delhi.
The motion was introduced by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Jagjivan Ram, who made it clear that the emergency, under which the Indian Government has assumed wide powers of arrest and detention, could not be lifted until the Government was satisfied that there would be no more internal threats to the country's security. Mrs. Gandhi was also present in the Chamber.
A quick vote was expected, but strong opposition pressure to debate the issue in detail prevented the emergency proclamation being passed that day. On Tuesday (22 July), however, the ruling Congress Party - the in the House - supported by the Indian Communist Party, approved the declaration by 136 to 33 votes.
Only minutes after the result was announced, opposition members walked out of the Upper House of Parliament. They said that they felt the present session was in no position to discharge the function of a free and democratic Parliament. A statement read by Socialist leader, N.G. Goray, made it clear that they were intending to boycott the remainder of the one-week session.
Mrs. Gandhi, who addressed both house, explained why the Government had been forced to act. She described the emergency as a "painful necessity". She appealed to all Indians to cooperate in an effort to convert the present situation into an opportunity for national progress in an atmosphere of discipline and self-restraint.
The Prime Minister firmly ruled out a return to the total licence and "political permissiveness" of the pre-emergency period. But she denied that democracy was at risk. She said that the very summoning of Parliament had proved that democracy was functioning in India.
Synopsis: The Lower House of the Indian Parliament began its week-long "monsoon" session Monday, faced with a Government motion seeking parliamentary approval for extending the state of emergency in the country. The motion was introduced by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Jagjivan Ram, who made it clear that the state of emergency could not be lifted until the Government was satisfied that there would be no more internal threats to the country's security. Under the emergency the Government has assumed wide powers of arrest and detention.
A quick vote had been expected, but the opposition forced a debate on details. The prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, had to waist until the next day to see the extension motion passed by one-hundred-and-thirty-six votes to thirty-three. She described it as a "painful necessity" but denied that democracy was at risk.