40 years ago, Karnataka revived Indira Gandhi, will it be same for Rahul Gandhi?

After the humiliating defeat, Indira Gandhi moved to Karnataka as it was the only hope left for the party which was then on the edge of becoming irrelevant.


As the Congress’ future hangs in the balance with the Grand Old Party being seized in only three states in the Country, the party President Rahul Gandhi is on his visit to Karnataka today. Gandhi, whose only hope of revival depends upon Karnataka has put all his strength into the state.

Rahul Gandhi, yesterday, began his two-day visit to the coastal Karnataka and Dakshin Kannada where the BJP has quite a significant presence. The region, after the recent series of killing of RSS workers, has also become communally charged. Visiting the Dakshin Kannada region in such a time and convincing voters is a tough task for Rahul.

Indira gandhi
Rahul Gandhi visiting the Sharada temple at Sringeri mutt


Rahul also paid a visit to a temple in Sringeri. While this may seem as a part of Congress strategy to reach out to the community, the visit to the Sharada Peeth holds a significance for the Congress party. The Sharadamba Temple and met the members of the Sringeri mutt too might not have forgotten the history scripted at the very place almost 40 years ago.

The dark period of Congress:

The then Prime minister Indira Gandhi’s reputation had taken a hit with the imposition of Emergency in 1975. There was a widespread anger among the people of the country against Indira Gandhi and her prodigy son Sanjay Gandhi. In 1977 when she lifted the emergency after two years, Indira Gandhi overestimated her acceptance among the people. In the same year, she called for an election in which the Congress had to take a severe beating. The Janata Alliance bagged the one-sided victory forming the first non-Congress government in the nation. They named Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi’s political opponent as the Prime Minister of India. Indira Gandhi herself lost the Rae Bareli seat while Sanjay Gandhi lost his from Amethi.

Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi announcing emergency on 01-07-1975. Image Source: Web

Indira’s journey to the South:

The Congress’ performance in the elections was so poor that the Party lost most of the seats from the northern states- a Hindi belt which has been the Congress bastion for several years. After Independence, it was for the first time that no one from the Gandhi family was representing the party in parliament. However, the party fared well in the southern states, especially Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Thus, Indira Gandhi decided to move South as it was the only hope left for the party which was then on the edge of becoming bygone.

Indira gandhi
Then Karnataka CM Devaraj Urs with Indira Gandhi at Dharmasthala,
Image Source: Web

The Chikmagalur by-polls:

It would not be an overstatement if one says that it was the Chikmagalur by-polls that again opened the doors of party revival. Chikmagalur which means the “The little daughter’s village” gave Indira Gandhi the much-needed opportunity to rise in her political career again.

The absence of both the Gandhis in Parliament presented a weakened image of the party. Thus, it was the common feeling among the rank and files of the party that to make the party stronger in Parliament, Indira Gandhi is needed to bring back. The Congress loyalist and an MP from Chikamaglur D.B. Chandre Gowda understood the situation and voluntarily vacated the seat which necessitated the by-polls. Before filing her nomination for the by-polls, she drove to Sringeri, performed a pooja at the famous Sharada Mutt and invoked the blessings of the Sankaracharya.

Indira gandhi
Indira Gandhi addressing supporters after her 1980s victory. Image Source: Youth Congress twitter

From Sringeri, she drove to Dharamshala, another pilgrim centre and then she launched her election campaign in the Chikmagalur constituency. The Janata Alliance had fielded Veerendra Patil as their candidate. Stalwarts like Industrial minister George Fernandes had camped in the constituency to campaign for their candidate. However, it could not help the candidate who lost to Indira Gandhi.

The rest is History! Indira Gandhi completely swept the next Lok Sabha election steering the masses with her famous “Gareebi Hatao” slogan.

Why it matters now?

Just like Indira Gandhi, for Rahul Gandhi, Southern states are the only hopes remaining to revive the party. With the Congress losing its clout in all the states in northern India except Punjab, South can provide the necessary panacea to the party trying to regain the ground.

Now, will Karnataka be able to give another revival for the Congress? Will it give the another Indira Gandhi moment, this time for Rahul Gandhi is for everyone to wait and watch?

Dear Readers,
As an independent media platform, we do not take advertisements from governments and corporate houses. It is you, our readers, who have supported us on our journey to do honest and unbiased journalism. Please contribute, so that we can continue to do the same in future.

Related posts