Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi lost her seat in Parliament and her ruling Congress Party suffered widespread setbacks as results came in today from India's national election.
Within hours of the announcement that the prime minister had gone down to personal defeat, along with her controversial son Sanjay, India's acting president, B.D. Jatti, revoked the state of emergency under which Gandhi had ruled since June 1975.
The opposition People's Party and its allies had turned the election into a referendum on the emergency, and early results placed the CongressParty's 30-year hold on power in jeopardy.
With 205 of the 542 seats in the lower house of Parliament decided, the People's Party - a coalition of four non-Communist opposition parties - had won 101 and was assured of the support of six members from other parties.
The Congress Party had only 76 seats and could count on the support of 15 members from other parties.
Vote-counting is expected to continue through Tuesday, with the new Parliament scheduled to meet on Wednesday. This leaves little time for political maneuvering if the final tally is close.
If the congress Party ends up to a position to form a new government, Ghandhi could continue as prime minister for six months under the Indian constitution, but by the end of that time she would have to win a seat in either or Parliament or step down.
The opposition immediately called on her to resign but there was no word from her official residence on her plans. Gandhi lost to Socialist leader Raj Narain by 177,729 votes to 122,517, according to official results for her Rae Bareli constituency. In 1971, she defeated Narain by 100,000 votes in an election he challenged in court.
It was that court challenge that led indirectly to the declaration of national emergency in June 1975 and to Gandhi's defeat today.
After a lower court found the prime minister guilty of election mispractices in the 1971 campaign, oppostion parties mounted a campaign calling for her resignation. She countered with the emergency declaration, under which thousands of her political opponents - incluuding Narair - were jailed. Press censorship imposed and individual right curtailed.
While most of the political prisoners were released and other emergency regulations relaxed in recent weeks, many of the emergency laws were made permanent by parliamentary action and remain on the books even though the emergency itself is now over.
It was during the emergency that Gandhi's 30-year-old son Sanjay took on a prominent role among the prime minister's closest advisers. He was reputed to be the force behind the controversial birth-control and slum-clearance programs that antagonized many voters, sespecially in northern India.
Sanjay, who was active in the youth wing of the Congress Party, lost in his first bid for Parliament in a district adjacent to his mother's in northern Uttar Pradesn. He was defeated by 75,844 votes by a young lawyer, in a district that had been considered "safe."
Other prominent members of Gandhi's Cabinet were also defeated.
Defense Minister Bansi Lai, a close confidant of Sanjay's was defeated in northern Punjab state and Law Minister H.R. Koknale, who was responsible for many of the emergency regulations, was defeated in Bombay. Energy Minister K.C. Pant and Communication Minister Shankar Dayal Sharma were also among the losers in the early returns.
The People's Party swept all seven seats in Delhi, reversing the decision of the 1971 election. Then the Congress Party won a two-thirds majority nationwide, showing strength in all sections of the country.
Initial estimates were that a record 65 to 70 per cent of India's 318 million voters turned out for the election, which was called unexpectedly by the prime minister six week ago.
Jubilant People's Party workers drove through the stretes of the capital in trucks, cheering wilding as the first returns came in.
Crowds converged on the residence of former Agriculture Minister Jagjivan Ram, who resigned from the government last month and formed his own Congress for Democracy Party which campaigned with the People's Party, headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai.
Ram, 68, is the most prominent of India's million of Untouchables, the lowest rung on the Hindu caste scale. The Untouchables were an electoral mainstay of Congress Party power, and Ram's defection was a blow to Gandhi's chances.
In the five previous general elections since independence, the Congress Party never won a majority of the popular vote but always did well in parliamentary strength because the opposition parties were always splintered. The emergency brought the opposition parties together in a united front against the Congress for the first time.
The opposition campaign slogan was "Demoncracy vs. Dictatorship," and Gandhi was on the defensive from the outset.
The prime minister, who conducted a personally exhausting campaign, appearing at more than 250 rallies across the country, argued that the People's Party would bring instability and chaos if it came to power.
The People's Party is made up of ideologically and politically disparate groups that range from the center-left Socialist Party to the Hindu Chauvinist Jan Sangh, although most of its members are center-right or rightist in their politics. There has been no indication who would be in a government formed by the party.