Monday, December 9, 2013

State Elections 2013 - A quick analysis - Indian democracy has won

Nearly 11 crore voters have voted in the 5 state elections in Nov-Dec 2013 and elected their new Government.  Whichever party has won or lost, ultimately the Indian voters have won. Indian democracy has won.  That is why from 2009 onwards, I term this as 'Celebration of democracy'.  'Celebrate Democracy' will be our theme for the Sansad Ratna Awards 2014.  I congratulate all the elected representatives and wish them all the best for their public service.  

In the recent state elections, BJP is able to retain Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh for third term.  The respective Chief Ministers have to be appreciated for their effective governance. Congress lost heavily in all the states.  They have also lost their Government in both Delhi and Rajasthan.  Congress has retained Mizoram.  While BJP has won nearly 70% of the seats that went for polls, Congress could gain only 20% of the seats. With General Elections 2014, few weeks away, Congress has to work hard to gain the  public confidence.

People reposed confidence and rewarded  the Chief Ministers of MP and Chattisgarh with more seats for their better governance.  At the same time, they rejected miserably the CMs of Rajasthan and Delhi for their bad performance and governance.   

Strength and weakness of BJP

BJP  Chief Ministers in all their states offer better governance.  The fact that Gujarat, MP and Chattisgarh people have voted back their Governments for the third time in a row is an ample proof.  After 2004 and 2009 debacle in Lok Sabha, BJP workers and leaders became diffident and lacked motivation.  The emergence of Narendra Modi or NAMO has galvanised the BJP workers more.  Though Modi was accused of splitting the top leaders earlier, he has succeeded in uniting the workers at every level across the nation.  He is a great communicator and sets the agenda for the discussion for all parties.  By making himself at the centre stage through positive or negative news, he has made BJP as the main force in India.  

On the positive side, the BJP top leadership gives enough freedom to their Chief Ministers to function effectively, within the overall frame work of the Policy.  They have developed popular regional level leaders like Modi, Chauhan, Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Manohar Parrikar.  Generally, the functioning of present senior BJP leaders during Morarji and Vajpayee Governments as ministers are still considered as 'excellent' by political experts. 

Coming to the negative side, BJP is more dominant only in the northern part of India.  They are yet to take roots in East and South.  Even the one Government at Karnataka was lost because of their leadership management.  They are seen more as 'Hindi walas' by East and South people.  Modi's popularity is trying to reduce this feeling, still they have to go a long way. 

Another negative side is that they are being seen as communal by other parties though they show secular credentials in BJP ruled states. The other parties take advantage of this situation and scare the minority people about BJP.  

Another negative point is their scant respect for voters.  During the recent state elections, BJP fielded maximum of candidates with criminal background.  Out of 31 BJP MLAs elected now  in Delhi, 17 have criminal background.  This reflects their over confidence on their popularity.  Some of the Delhi experts say that BJP lost the majority in the assembly, because of their fielding candidates with criminal background.  

Strength and weakness of Congress

On the positive side, Congress has rich experience in governance.  They have governed the nation during the testing times very well.  They have very good leaders who are well experienced, but not known outside.   Congress is spread across the country.  Whether they rule or not, Congress is the only party which has membership in the entire nation.  Though they play communal and caste politics every time more than other parties, they are still considered as a 'secular' party.   

On the negative side, the party is controlled only by one family, i.e. Nehru or so-called GANDHI Family.  Even the talented leaders like Pilot, Scindia are not able to showcase their talents effectively. They ensure that talented leaders do not come up to avoid challenge to the Nehru family.   Even the Chief Ministers of  congress ruled states have to take permission from Nehru family even for small matters.  Though they are spread across the nation, they do not allow the regional leaders to grow. They treat even the Chief Ministers as their dummies.  For an example, as against the suggestions of CM of Andhra, Congress is pushing the split of Andhra.  

In the last ten years, Congress has become highly insensitive to corruption and governance issues. Even the Prime Minister has to kneel down before the Prince Rahul Gandhi.  

Stunning performance of Aam Aadmi Party 

AAP which was formed few weeks ago, has surprised everybody by gaining near majority seats (28 seats) in Delhi.  The success of BJP and AAP in these elections reflect loudly that people want a better transparent governance and not mere promises.   

In the recent decade, emergence of internet and social media has created more political awareness among the new generation voters.  The new generation voters and particularly the first time voters are against the bad governance and corruption. When the emotions were running high, Arvind Kejriwal floated the AAP Party and successfully converted the emotions and mood of the people into votes.  To the surprise of the nation and all political parties they secured nearly 30% of vote share and 28 seats.   This is a great and wonderful achievement for any new party floated few weeks ago.

Past history of parties floated on emotions,  winning power in short time

In early 1970, MGR floated AIADMK, when he was dismissed from DMK and within one year, he captured the power in Tamil Nadu securing 31% vote share.  Before floating the party, he was quite popular as an actor and a leader of DMK.  Till date, the party continues to enjoy the supremacy in Tamil Nadu.  His successor Jayalalitha is now the CM of Tamil Nadu.  

In 1977, immediately after the emergency,  Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan formed Janata Party combining various political parties, with the aim of defeating Indira Gandhi.   They secured 345 seats out of 542 seats in Lok Sabha with 52% vote share. Janata Party captured power at the Centre within few days of formation of the party.  The Government formed by Morarji Desai (Janata Party)  collapsed within 2 years.  Janata Party got split into various pieces, due to internal ego problems of their own leaders.  Now Janata Party is not in existence.

In the same way in the early 1980s, when Congress  humiliated their own CM Anjaiah in Andhra, NT Ramarao,  popular actor, floated Telugu Desam as 'Telugu pride'.  He also captured power with massive majority and securing 46% vote share within few months.   NTR developed the party with his film popularity. Even when NTR was alive, the party was captured by Chandrababu Naidu, who became Chief Minister later. The party has now become weak. 

In 1985 Asom Gana Parsihad (AGP) was formed by student leader P K Mahanta in Assam, out of the emotional issues of illegal migrants. In the first year itself, they captured power with 34% vote share. At that time, some of the students who were in the hostel became Ministers.  Though the party formed the Government two times, due to various internal differences got split and they are only a minor party in the state now.

Of the above parties, only AIADMK is still surviving powerfully for the past 40 years, because of the leadership.

Strength and weakness of AAP, including challenges

In the same manner, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also was formed recently as a result of the emotional issues like anti corruption movement by Anna Hazare and Nirbaya case. Under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal (photo), AAP has now secured nearly 30% vote share and 28 seats. Since AAP has secured power and position in Delhi, they have to safe guard themselves from the internal ego clashes and external attacks to split the party.  

AAP was  formed as an alternate to the present political system and the lack of transparent functions. Unfortunately,  there are more allegations against AAP itself about the lack of transparency, fielding of candidates with criminal background, source of funding, etc. Though AAP was accusing all other political parties for fielding candidates with criminal background, in Delhi, AAP fielded more number of candidates with criminal background, next to BJP. Out of 28 elected AAP MLAs, 3 are already facing criminal charges.  (Source: ADR Report)

Since AAP was formed on emotional background and public anger against ruling party, they were able to get into Delhi Assembly.  Now their real challenge begins.  Shouting in the streets holding candles in the hands,  without being in power will be totally different from discharging responsibility as MLA.  

AAP has two options before them.  (1) Collaborate with either BJP or Congress parties and form the Government to prove their governance skills and to comply with the promises they have given to the people.  Definitely, the supporting parties will not pull down the Government, as it may be counter-productive for them.  This is the best option, but it is a double edged sword.  (2) Sit in the opposition and play a constructive role in the Legislative Assembly.  Sitting in the opposition gives lot of learning experience.  

Now people are watching AAP closely with huge expectations, because of the various promises.  With this victory, AAP also announced that they would become an alternate party to BJP and Congress at National level.  

Only time can tell whether AAP will survive all the challenges and remain in tact as a 'party with a difference' or vanish in the course of time like many other predecessors.  

Article by Prime Point Srinivasan

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rise and fall of V P Singh - General Elections 1989 - Emergence of caste politics in large scale

In our earlier article, we discussed about the rise and fall of Rajiv Gandhi.  We also discussed about how Rajiv Gandhi opened up communal politics by appeasing  both Muslims and Hindus simultaneously.  We also discussed how Rajiv Gandhi started his 1989 Election Campaign from Ayodhya promising 'Rama Rajya'.  With the net result, Rajiv Gandhi lost the trust of both Muslims and Hindus.  

Meanwhile, V P Singh, one his senior Cabinet Ministers raised allegation against Rajiv Gandhi bringing out Bofors scandal.  He was dismissed from the Cabinet.  V P Singh started a new political outfit known as 'Jan Morcha' in 1987 to fight against corruption.  He became popular throughout the country as a crusader against corruption.

V P Singh formed 'Janata Dal' On 11th October 1988 merging Jan Morcha, a faction of Janata Party led by Chandra Shekar, Lok Dal and Congress (S).  The newly formed Janata Dal became popular throughout India, as a party to fight corruption.

V P Singh also formed a coalition called 'National Front' with parties like DMK (Tamil Nadu), Telugu Desam Party (Andhra Pradesh), and Assam Gana Parishad (Assam).  N T Rama Rao (TDP) was the Chairman of National Front and V P Singh was the Convenor to face the Elections of 1989.

V P Singh addressing the public - Photo courtsy The Hindu
V P Singh addressing the public - Photo courtsy The Hindu
V P Singh finalised an electoral understanding with Left parties and BJP, to fight against the Congress.  Though V P Singh wanted the support of BJP, during elections, he wanted to keep distance with them.  V P Singh did not share platform with BJP.  In some places where BJP and V P Singh were to hold a joint rally, V P Singh and BJP leaders were addressing the public from two different stages.  Since BJP at that time had an agenda of constructing Ram Temple at Ayodhya, VP Singh wanted to distance himself away to maintain his 'secular image'.

1989 Election results

Janata Dal Election symbol
Janata Dal Election symbol
9th General Elections were held for 545 constituencies on 22nd and 26th November 1989.  At that time India had 49.89 registered eligible voters.  Of them, 61.95% turned out to vote in the elections.

The newly formed Janata Party fought elections with a new symbol of 'chakra'.  'Corruption' and 'Bofors scandal' was the main agenda of the elections.  

Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi had secured 197 seats (vote share of 39.5%) and emerged as the single largest party.  It may be noted that in the 8th Lok Sabha, Congress had secured 404 seats with vote share of 49.01%) and their strength was reduced to less than half during the 9th Lok Sabha.  It was because of the corruption charges levelled against Rajiv Gandhi and also the electoral alliance of all the opposition parties with the sole objective of 'anti congressism'.  

The Janata Dal led by V P Singh secured 143 seats (vote share 40.7%) and became the second largest party.  Left parties secured 45 seats (vote share 9.1%).

BJP which had 2 seats in the 8th Lok Sabha improved its position and secured 85 seats now (vote share 11.36%).

While DMK could not get any seat, TDP secured 2 seats.  National Front could not pick up seats in South India.

Times of India dated 3rd December 1989
Times of India dated 3rd December 1989
Since Rajiv Gandhi could not form the Government, though he was heading the single largest party, V P Singh formed the 'National Front Government' on 2nd December 1989. Devi Lal became the Deputy Prime Minister.  Left parties and BJP gave outside support to V P Singh.  Rajiv Gandhi became the leader of the opposition.

Interestingly, during this period, National Front was in power in 10 States in India, including Haryana, Gujarat, UP, Andhra, Kerala, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, etc.  Ironically, in Kerala they shared power with Left parties and in Gujarat, they shared power with BJP.   This could not last long.  

Challenges during V P Singh's regime
Janata Dal was formed with ambitious leaders of different ideologies, with the sole aim of 'anti congressism'.  The Government depended on both Left and BJP of opposite ideologies.  Besides VP Singh had to face internal crisis also within the party.   

Though V P Singh campaigned against corruption and came to power, he did not do anything to take the Bofors scandal further.  During his time, economy further worsened. Prices started rising abnormally.  Foreign exchange reserve went to a dangerous level.  India joined the list of 'debt defaulters'.   

In Kashmir, the situation worsened.  Nearly 90,000 Hindus were driven out of valley and they became refugees in their own land by migrating to other places.  This is the greatest refugee migration in Indian history.  

Implementing Mandal Commission Report

B P Mandal
B P Mandal
Since Rajiv Gandhi was playing earlier both Muslim and Hindu cards simultaneously during his term as PM, BJP cleverly consolidated the Hindu votes in the North under the 'Ram Mandir' banner.  Faced with lot of challenges both internally and externally, V P Singh suddenly wanted to consolidate 'backward class vote base' in his favour.  On 7th August 1990, he issued orders implementing Mandal Commission Report.  

Accordingly, some of the socially backward castes called 'Other Backward classes (OBC)' were given 27% reservation in all the Central Government jobs and admissions in educational institutions.

During Janata Government Morarji Desasi appointed  a Commission  with Mr B P Mandal (a senior MP from Bihar) as Chairman  and  5 others as Members on 20th December 1978, to recommend reservations for most backward class people.  The Commission submitted its report on 31st December 1980 to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  This report was not implemented both by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi for various political reasons, fearing backlash.  

Suddenly V P Singh preferred to open up the report and implement with immediate effect.  V P Singh earned the name as champion of 'social justice'.  Unfortunately, many of his own party leaders did not like the way he implemented the report.  BJP felt threatened that it might affect their vote base and Hindu unity.  

For the first time, in India, caste politics emerged in a large scale.  

Self immolation and riots

The implementation of Mandal report had adverse impact on some of the major castes in North India.  They protested against V P Singh.  The castes which were benefited by the reservation supported V P Singh. They hailed him as the champion of social justice.   The implementation divided the people on caste lines.  
Student Rajiv Goswami attempting self immolation.
Student Rajiv Goswami attempting self immolation.  
One Delhi University Student Rajiv Goswami attempted self immolation, but he was saved.  This triggered more self immolations.  Around 75 students in the North self immolated themselves, protesting against the Mandal report.  In the riots followed, more than 200 people died. 

 Mandal to Mandir: BJP's Rath yatra 

As we discussed earlier, Rajiv Gandhi's playing both Muslim and Hindu appeasement simultaneously during his term as Prime Minister, brought 'Ram Mandir' issue to the centre stage.  Ram Mandir issue was an unifying factor among Hindus.  Though Rajiv Gandhi started his 1989 campaign from Ayodhya with the promise of 'Rama Rajya', he could not succeed in consolidating Hindu votes in favour of Congress.  BJP played Ram issue carefully and increased their seats in Lok Sabha from 2 to 85.  Now that, V P Singh's Mandal card, unexpectedly brought the caste factors to the centre stage and it developed caste hatred within Hindus.
BJPs Rath Yatra with L K Advani
BJP's Rath Yatra with L K Advani
Again to consolidate the Hindu votes and to counter the Mandal effect, BJP undertook a 'Rath Yatra' from Somnath to Ayodhya with L K Advani leading the yatra.  L K Advani started his yatra from Somnath on 20th Sep 1990 with an aim of reaching Ayodhya on 30th October 1990.  The focus was on building Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.  Though the yatra generated lot of interest and consolidated Hindu votes, it also generated communal backlash in many states.  While starting the yatra, Advani had warned V P Singh that if he were to be arrested, he would withdraw the support to the Government.

Arrest of Advani and withdrawal of support by BJP

Since the Rath Yatra was generating law and order problem in many places, then Chief Minister of Bihar  Lalu Prasad Yadav arrested Advani at Samastipur and stopped the yatra on 23rd October 1990.  BJP withdrew their outside support immediately to V P Singh Government.  

Fall of VP Singh Government 

Chandra Shekar
Chandra Shekar
Meanwhile, Chandra Shekar and Devi Lal came out of Janata Dal with 64 Members to form Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya) on 5th November 1990.  

V P Singh lost the vote of confidence in Lok Sabha on 7th November 1990 and he had to resign.  

With the outside support of Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi, Chandra Shekar was sworn in as Prime Minister on 10th November 1990.   Chandra Shekar had the direct support of 64 MPs and outside support of Congress with 197 MPs. 

Challenges faced by Chandra Shekar 

Chandra Shekar inherited a bad economy with foreign exchange reserves going down to dangerously low level. The country slipped into the list of 'debt defaulters'.  He had to pledge gold reserves of the country to manage the situation.  That brought down the image of the country worldwide. 

The law and order of the country was very bad in the country, due to Mandal-Masjid issues.  

Though he wanted to provide a better governance, he could not do better, since he had only 64 MPs on his side.  He was managing the Government with outside support of Congress.

Fall of Chandra Shekar Government

Chandra Shekar was sworn in as PM on 10th November 1990.  When the Budget session was going on, Rajiv Gandhi withdrew the support to Chandra Shekar on 6th March 1991 with a flimsy reason that two police constables were spying on Rajiv Gandhi.  Hence, Chandra Shekar could not submit a regular budget.  9th Lok Sabha was dissolved by President.  Chandra Shekar was requested by the President to continue as Prime Minister till the new Government was formed after the Elections.  Chandra Shekar continued as PM till 21st June 1991, when Narasimha Rao took over as Prime Minister.

Turbulent period of 1988-1991

The period between 1988 and 1991 was highly turbulent in India.  Communal and caste politics emerged in large scale during this period.  No party in India, be it Congress, BJP, Left or Janata party descendants can claim to be truly secular.  In order to strengthen their vote base, they indulged in either communal or caste politics, under the guise of secularism.  

Further during the middle of General Elections 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assasinated (May 1991).  This incident also further worsened the economy of the nation.

With so much of confusion around, Narasimha Rao, a senior leader, who was ignored and sidelined by Congress took over as Prime Minister in 1991 and managed the crisis silently and successfully successfully for five years.  

In our next article, we will discuss the happenings in the post Rajiv Gandhi era.

By Prime Point Srinivasan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rise and fall of Rajiv Gandhi - General Elections 1984 - Emergence of communal politics in large scale

Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi

In our earlier posting, we wrote about the rise and assassination of Indira Gandhi.  After Indira Gandhi's assassination, Rajiv Gandhi, her eldest son was sworn in as Prime Minister by the President of India.  In the anti sikh riots, thousands of people were killed.  As per the advise of new Prime Minister Raji Gandhi, President of India dissolved the 7th Lok Sabha and ordered General Elections.

8th General Elections 1984

8th General Elections were held for 515 constituencies only.  The elections for Punjab and Assam were held later due to law and order problem Voter turnout was 63.4%.  The elections were held on 24, 27 and 28th December 1984.  

Due to sympathy over the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Congress alliance (Congress and AIADMK) secured 416 seats (50.7% vote share).  Congress alone got 404 seats with 49.01% vote share.

The second largest party was Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by N T Ramarao with 30 seats (4.3% vote share).  Janata Party could secure 10 seats with 6.9% vote share.  

Rajiv Gandhi sworn in as PM

Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India.  Rajiv Gandhi remains as the youngest PM in the history of Independent India.  

As the young Prime Minister, he took lot of initiatives to modernise and improve the telecom sector, education sector, technology sector.  He improved the relationship with US.  He also wanted to improve the relationship with neighbouring countries and to reduce the tension.  He wanted to reduce the License Raj regime. He was trying to get Mr Clean image in the governance. When he started his job as PM, he brought lot of hopes to the Indians.

Some of the major challenges and controversies

As the young PM, he had to face major challenges like Bhopal Gas tragedy, Coup in Maldives, anti sikh riots, Srilankan Tamil issue, etc. 

He was accused of allowing Warren Anderson, to leave the country after the Bhopal Gas tragedy (Dec 1984).

He sincerely attempted to resolve Srilankan Tamil probems through Rajiv Gandhi - Jayawardane accord and by despatching Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka to maintain peace.  Later he landed in a controversy and became victim.  He was assassinated in 1991 by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). 

V P Singh, then Finance Minister in his cabinet accused Rajiv Gandhi with Bofors scandal, involving around Rs.60 crores of rupees.  He was accused of favouring Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian business man close to the family of his wife Sonia Gandhi (an Italian by birth).  Bofors scandal brought down his Mr Clean image drastically.  V P Singh was dismissed from the cabinet in 1988.  VP Singh resigned from Congress and started the Janata Dal party.  

Beginning of major communal politics - reversing the Supreme Court judgement in Shah Banu case

Shah Banu Photo courtesy: The Hindu
Shah Banu Photo courtesy: The Hindu
In the case Mohammad Ahmed Khan vs Shah Banu, the 5 Judges full bench of Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that Shah Banu (60), the divorcee was entitled for the compensation from her erstwhile husband under Sec 125 of Cr PC.  Though, originally Rajiv Gandhi  supported this judgement in the Parliament,  later at the pressure of Islamic leaders, he agreed to pass an Act to nullify the Supreme Court Judgement and to enforce Shariat Law for Muslim women even under Criminal Penal Code.  

His approach was criticised by the Hindu leaders as an  'appeasement of Muslim community'.  They objected to any modification of SC ruling on the basis of religion.  They argued when the Indian Constitution envisaged 'uniform civil code' for Indian citizens, the approach of Rajiv Gandhi to amend the criminal law was a communal politics amounted to an appeasement.  They further argued that there cannot be different criminal law for different religions.  However, Rajiv Gandhi wanted to introduce a new Act to nullify the SC ruling.

Ayodhya issue

Though Rajiv Gandhi started his term of office as PM with a great hope, he caught himself in the communal politics.  To avoid displeasure with Hindus, due to his efforts to please the Muslim community, he found an answer in one of the civil cases in the Faizabad Court, a town close to Ayodhya, the temple town.

Ayodhya is considered as the birth place of Lord Ram.  There was a dispute in one of the sites popularly known as 'Ram Janma Bhoomi- Babri Masjid'.  Hindus believed that this was the birth place of Lord Ram and Babar one of the Moghul Kings destroyed the original temple and constructed the Babri Masjid.  The dispute was in existence for several years.  Till 1949, the place was not used for worship either by Hindus or by Muslims.  A case was filed in 1949 in Allahabad High Court by some Hindus to declare the structure as Ram Janma Bhoomi.  

Meanwhile, way back in 1950, a Ram Lala (Ram deity) was placed in the mid night by some persons.  When it was objected by the Muslim community then PM, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to remove the Ram idol from the place.  Since it was an highly sensitive issue, the Congress Government in UP at that time did not oblige Nehru and did not remove  the Ram idol.  To avoid law and order problem and worship by public, without any official orders, the building was closed with a lock.  Public were not allowed to worship, but priests used to go inside and conduct poojas.  That was the position till 1985.

Umesh Chandra Pandey - Photo courtesy: Wall Street Journal
Umesh Chandra Pandey - Photo courtesy: Wall Street Journal
One Umesh Chandra Pandey filed a case during Jan  1986 in Faizabad Court to unlock the Ram janma Bhoomi and to allow the devotees to worship Lord Ram.  This case came up on 1st Feb 1986 for hearing.  Since there was no order for locking the Ram janma Bhoomi years back, the judge  ordered the lock to be removed.  Ram janma Bhoomi was opened for worship of Lord Ram.  This was widely publicised through All India Radio and Doordarshan. The unlocking was done with the consent of Rajiv Gandhi to please Hindus. 

According to Mani Shankar Iyer (now a senior Congress leader and Rajiv's close friend), Rajiv Gandhi received this information when he was at Maldives. (see Wall Street Journal article).

Now back to Muslims

Having pleased Hindus with the unlocking of Ram Janma Bhoomi, Rajiv Gandhi passed  an Act known as 'THE MUSLIM WOMEN (PROTECTION OF RIGHTS ON DIVORCE) ACT, 1986ACT NO. 25 OF 1986 on 19th May 1986. This act nullified the SC ruling given in Shah Banu case.  According to this Act, the divorcee woman is entitled for maintenance from her husband only during Iddat Period (maximum 3 months).  

Now back to Hindus

Hindu organisations like Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) were campaigning for building a Ram temple at Ayodhya. They had covered 2.75 villages and 60 lakh people. 

In June 1989, BJP in their National Executive Meeting endorsed the views of Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to build a Ram temple at Ram Janma Bhoomi.   The resolution highlighted the callous unconcern of Rajiv Gandhi on resolving the dispute of Ram Janma Bhoomi.  BJP was not a main opposition party at that time (2 MPs)  and  VP Singh was the main threat to Rajiv Gandhi.  Since the elections were to be held soon, his advisors encouraged him to co-opt the same issue to get re-elected.  In view of this, he even started his 1989 Election Campaign later from Ayodhya promising 'Ram Rajya'.  (See Wall Street Journal article).

Shilanya November 1989 - Photo courtesy Wall Street Jounral
Shilanya November 1989 - Photo courtesy Wall Street Jounral
VHP wanted to perform Shilanya (Kar Seva) with the bricks collected from the devotees.  Rajiv Gandhi allowed Hindus to perform Kar Seva in November 1989 in the adjoining site of Ramjanma Bhoomi.  He even deputed Buta Singh, then Home Minister to participate in the Kar Seva.  

Playing with Hindu and Muslim sentiments 

Even in the earlier regimes,  Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, played communal politics to woo voters in the name of 'secularism'.  But during Rajiv Gandhi's time, communal politics was played openly to woo the Hindu and Muslim voters simultaneously.

Because of the frequent changes in the appeasement, both Hindu and Muslim voters did not trust Rajiv Gandhi.  Probably because of his young age, he was misguided by his coteries.  

In the process, he lost heavily the 1989 elections and could not form the Government.  He became the opposition leader.  BJP which had only 2 seats in 1984, gained 85 seats in 1989. V P Singh with the support of Left parties and BJP formed the Government. 

In the next article, we will see the rise and fall of V P Singh and the beginning of caste politics in India.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rise and fall of Indira Gandhi - General Elections 1980

Indira Gandhi

In the earlier posting, we saw how Janata Party rose to power with sweeping majority in 1977 and got split into various factions within two years.  Charan Singh, the Deputy Prime Minister, who had an ambition of becoming PM, was wooed by Indira Gandhi to come out of Janata Party and to form the Government with outside support of Congress.  

Accordingly, he withdrew from Janata Party Government along with 64 of his erstwhile members of Lok Dal.  Bharatiya Jan Singh (BJS) component of Janata Party led by Vajpayee and LK Advani also withdrew the support to form Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  Morarji Government lost the confidence vote in  Lok Sabha and submitted his resignation.

Chaudhary Charan Singh (Present Cabinet Minister Ajit Singh's father) claimed to become the PM with the outside support of Congress led by Indira Gandhi. Charan Singh had only 64 Members on his side.  He was sworn in as 7th Prime Minister of India on 28th July 1979.  Even before he could prove his majority in the Lok Sabha, Indira Gandhi withdrew her support to Charan Singh.  President of India dissolved the Lok Sabha and ordered fresh elections.

That was the end of the first Non-Congress Government formed by multiple parties with different ideologies.  The first experiment of coalition Government failed in India.

Political analysts feel that the manipulative and cunning tactics of Indira Gandhi divided her enemies to her advantage.  We will see later in this article, how her manipulative tactics created problems in Punjab, leading to her assassination.  

7th General Elections - Jan 1980

7th General Elections were held on 3rd and 6th Jan 1980.   59.6% of the voters participated in the General Elections.

Since the Janata party got split into various factions due to their internal fight and political ambition, people got frustrated with the instability of the Government.  Not withstanding the emergency excesses and agonies, people voted Indira Gandhi back to power.  Congress and her alliance parties won 374 seats.  Congress alone got 353 seats (42.7% vote share), as against 189 seats (41% vote share) in 1977.  Though the vote share of Congress has marginally increased only by 1.7%, because of the split of opposition parties, Congress could bag 353 seats.

Janata Party and its allies got only 34 seats.  Janata party individually got ony 31 seats (19% vote share), as against 295 seats (41.3% vote share) in 1977.  The reduction of vote share has happened due to the split of Janata Party into various factions.  Left parties bagged 53 seats.

Interestingly, DMK who was with Janata Party, because of the sufferings of Emergency, shifted its support to Indira Gandhi in 1980.  AIADMK led by MG Ramachandran, who was earlier with Indira Gandhi, shifted his support to Janata Party.

With the sweeping majority of 353 seats, Indira Gandhi became the 8th Prime Minister of India on  14th January 1980.

P V Narasimha Rao (who became PM later), R Venkatraman (who became President of India later) and Zail Singh (who became President of India later) were the cabinet ministers in the Indira Gandhi cabinet.  

Operation Blue Star

Bhindranwale with his body guarants at the Golden Temple Photo courtesy:
Bhindranwale with his body guarants at the Golden Temple
Photo courtesy:
Indira Gandhi ordered a military operation code worded 'Operation Blue Star' in Jan 1984.  Around 10000 jawans from Indian Army, CRPF, BSF and Punjab Police were involved in this operation to kill the extremists headed by Bhindranwale, who were hiding in the Golden Temple at Amritsar.  The army men entered Golden Temple and conducted the operations.  In the process Bhindranwale and 140 militants were killed inside the Golden Temple.  Golden Temple is the holiest place for Sikh Community.  Thousands of civilians also died in the operation both inside and outside the Golden Temple.  

Though official figure indicated the death of 492 civilians, media reported estimated death of more than 5000 civilians.  During the time of Operation Blue Star no media was permitted for nearly 14 days. 

Bhindranwale was promoted by Indira Gandhi

Earlier in 1982, to reduce the supremacy of Akali Dal (who were with Janata Party in 1977), Indira Gandhi encouraged and helped Bhindranwale to become the head of the radical wing of Akali parties.  Unfortunately, it got backfired and he became a powerful messiah and Punjab's big religious leader.  One of the foreign journalists wrote,  "Indira Gandhi created a monster, which she could not control'.  Indira Gandhi became the victim of her own manipulative tactics.  She had to order 'operation blue star' to eliminate all the militant groups led by Bhindranwale, who were living in Golden Temple.  

Damaged Akali Takht (Golden Temple)
Damaged Akali Takht (Golden Temple)
The entry of army personnel into  Golden Temple and damaging their holy place created anger among the Sikh Community worldwide. Many Sikh people resigned army and Government jobs.  Though Sikh Community is less than 2% of the population, the military cannot function without their support.  They are known for their bravery and commitment.  

Indira Gandhi visiting Golden Temple on 23rd June 1984
Indira Gandhi visiting Golden Temple on 23rd June 1984
To assuage the hurt feelings of the Sikh Community, Indira Gandhi visited the Golden Temple on 23rd June 1984.  She also ordered reconstruction of damaged portions of the Golden Temple during the operation blue star.  

Indira Gandhi assassinated

Rajiv Gandhi near the body of Indira Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi near the body of Indira Gandhi
Since the operation blue star had hurt the religious sentiments of the Sikh community, some people had developed vengeance against her.  On 31st October 1984, when she was walking on the  foot path of her residence, two of her body guards Satwant Singh and Beant Singh assassinated her by firing bullets on her chest.  

Rajiv Gandhi sworn in as Prime Minister

Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi never took interest in politics.  But Indira Gandhi wanted him to enter into politics.  When Indira Gandhi was assassinated, Rajiv Gandhi was in Calcutta. On his arrival, then President of India Zail Singh made him as the Prime Minister of India.  

Anti-Sikh riots

Burning shops in the anti sikh riots at Delhi

After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, riot broke throughout India.  Sikh community was targetted.  In Delhi alone more than 3000 Sikh community people were killed by anti-social elements.  It is estimated that throughout India more than 6000 people might have been killed.  In spite of Congress leaders encouraging communal riot, many of the Sikh families were protected by Hindus throughout India.   Even now, many of the Sikh community people who witnessed 1984 riot, would explain how they were protected by other community people, from the anti-social elements.  

Jagadish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar, HKL Bhagat, the senior Congress leaders were reported to have been responsible for this riot, mass killing and genocide.  Though cases have been booked against them in 1984, till date, nobody has been punished.  
Rajiv Gandhi's comment on genocide and mass killing
Rajiv Gandhi's comment on genocide and mass killing
To add fuel to  fire, Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister said, "When a big tree falls, the earth below shakes a little".  This statement created fury among the people and it was largely criticised.  

7th Lok Sabha dissolved and fresh elections ordered

At the request of the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, President of India dissolved the Lok Sabha and ordered fresh elections.

Fresh elections were held in December 1984.  due to sympathy wave, Rajiv Gandhi secured 416 seats out of 515 seats, for which elections were held. (Elections were not held in Punjab and Assam)  He formed the Government in Dec 1984.  

In our next posting, we will look at the rise and fall of Rajiv Gandhi.

By Prime Point Srinivasan

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