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India Recent Politics

The Congress Party governments under R. Gandhi (1984-89) and P. V. Narashima Rao (1991-96): Indira Gandhi’s successor was her son Rajiv Gandhi , whose Congress Party achieved a two-thirds majority in the Union Parliament in the December 1984 elections. R. Gandhiwas able to record successes at the beginning of his reign. He concluded an agreement (Punjab Accord) with the leaders of the Sikhs in Punjab in July 1985, which met them in essential points and contributed to the pacification of the state; He also reached an agreement with the protest movement of the state of Assam (Asom Gana Parishad), which then formed the state government there after an election success in 1986. Unrest in the northeastern border region of India ended in 1987 with the formation of two new federal states, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. In the same year the former union territory of Goa became a federal state. A failure, however, was the agreement with Sri Lanka (July 1987), which led to the deployment of the Indian Peace Keeping Force; R. Gandhi assumed that an Indian contingent of around 5,000 troops could quickly defeat the rebels. In the end, however, over 50,000 Indian soldiers were deployed in Sri Lanka and became an unpopular occupying force that was unable to achieve anything.

Domestically, R. Gandhi was fatal when he fell out with his successful finance minister V. P. Singh , whom he initially transferred to the post of defense minister and then completely ousted from the government and the Congress Party. V. P. Singh headed the opposition with his new party Janata Dal (JD) and caused Gandhi to lose the November 1989 elections. The Congress Party remained the strongest party, but did not want to form a coalition. Thereupon V. P. SinghPrime Minister of a minority government supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the one hand and the communists on the other. In October 1990 the President of the BJP, Lal Krishna Advani (* 1927) , led a spectacular procession across northern India, which had the old mosque (Babri Masjid) of Ayodhya as its destination. This mosque was allegedly built by the Mughal Mughal Babur on the site of the birthplace of the legendary god-king Rama (Ramjanmabhumi), where a temple had previously stood. The supporters of the BJP wanted to build a Rama temple here again. The dispute had preoccupied the courts for years, now it escalated with Advani’s procession. V. P. Singhhad Advani arrested shortly before Ayodhya and at the same time brought down his own government, which was no longer supported by the BJP. He was succeeded as Prime Minister in November 1990 by Chandra Shekar (* 1927, † 2007; Janata Party), whose minority government was supported by the Congress Party. This ended their support in March 1991, because they calculated chances of success in new elections. During the election campaign, R. Gandhi was murdered on May 21, 1991 in a bomb attack by the Tamil guerrilla organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Gandhi’s successor as party president was P. V. N. Raowho was the first South Indian to become Prime Minister. This cabinet, too, which began its work in June 1991, was initially a minority government supported by smaller parties from outside. The presidents during these years were Ramaswamy Venkataraman (* 1910, † 2009; 1987–92) and S. D. Sharma (1992–97). Right at the beginning of his term in office, Rao had to cope with a balance of payments crisis that nearly drove India to national bankruptcy. One trigger of this crisis was, among other things. the fact that the Indians abroad had interrupted their transfers back home due to uncertainty about the political turmoil in India. The new Finance Minister M. Singhended the crisis through strict economic reforms. He devalued the currency by 18 percent, restructured the national budget, liberalized foreign trade and made concessions to foreign investors. After initial problems in connection with structural adjustment, the Indian economy began to expand.

However, the domestic political situation remained tense. According to Philosophynearby, the Indian army had to be used in September 1991 against a secessionist movement in Assam, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). In December 1992, the BJP operated Ramjanmabhumi campaign in Ayodhya reached its climax; Thousands of fanatical Hindus destroyed the controversial mosque (Babri Masjid). The state of Uttar Pradesh, in which Ayodhya is located, was ruled by the BJP at that time. Rao removed the state government from office and made Uttar Pradesh subject to administration by the federal government (President’s Rule); he did this at the same time as three other state governments led by the BJP (Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan). This move was risky, but it paid off for Raobecause in new elections in 1993 the BJP had to record losses in three of the four federal states; only in Rajasthan could it hold its position. After Rao’s success, 10 members of the Federal Parliament of the JD joined the Congress Party at the end of 1993, thus securing a majority for it (266 of the 528 seats at the time). However, various opposition parties achieved success in new elections that took place between November 1994 and March 1995 in the federal states of Sikkim, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is threatened by unrest, turned out to be the greatest problem facing the Narashima Rao government. Terrorists backed by Pakistan unsettled it with violent acts; the Indian government already had before RaosAssumption of office by massive military action aggravated the situation. After Farroq Abdullah stepped down as Prime Minister of Kashmir in 1990, efforts by the Indian government to win new elections were thwarted by terrorism and boycott threats.

India Recent Politics