Monday, May 3, 2010


India—Immediately After Independence

India became Independent as a dominion, with the British monarch as head of state,

represented by an appointed GovernorGeneral.

In November 1949, however, the Constituent

Assembly approved a Republican Constitution, providing for a president (with mainly

ceremonial functions) as head of state. Accordingly, India became a republic on January 26,

1950, although remaining a member of the commonwealth.

First border disputes in Sovereign India

The lack of effective opposition to Congress policies expedited industrialization and social

reform. In December 1961, Indian forces overran the Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman

and Diu, which were immediately annexed by India. Border disputes with the People's

Republic of China escalated into a brief military conflict in 1962. Nehru died in May 1964 and

was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri. India and Pakistan fought a second war over Kashmir

in 1965. Following mediation by the USSR, Shastri and President Ayub Khan of Pakistan

signed a joint declaration, aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute, on January

10, 1966. Prime Minister Shastri died on the following day, Nehru's daughter Indira


became Prime Minister.

Pakistan War of 1971

Border incidents led to a 12day

war with Pakistan in December 1971. The Indian Army

rapidly occupied East Pakistan, which India recognized as the Independent state of

Bangladesh. Indira Gandhi and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan held a summit

conference at Shimla in JuneJuly

1972, when the two leaders agreed that their respective

forces should respect the ceasefire line in Kashmir, and that India and Pakistan should resolve

their differences through bilateral negotiations or other peaceful means.

Politics in India (19751990)

General elections to the Lok Sabha were held in March 1977, when the numbers of elective

seats were increased to 542. The election resulted in victory for the Janata Party, chaired by

Morarji Desai, who became Prime Minister. In January 1978, Indira Gandhi became leader of

a new breakaway political group, the Congress (Indira) Party, known as Congress (I).

Fall of Desai's Government In 1979, the government's ineffectual approach to domestic

problems provoked a wave of defections by Lok Sabha members of the Janata Party. Many


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joined Raj Narain, who formed a new party, the Lok Dal, the policies of which were based on

Secularism. Congress (I) lost its position as the official opposition party after defections from

its ranks by members who objected to Indira Gandhi's authoritarianism.

The resignation of the Desai government in July was followed by the resignation from the

Janata Party of Charan Singh, who became the leader of the Lok Dal and, shortly afterwards,

Prime Minister in a Coalition with both Congress Parties. When Congress (I) withdrew its

support, Singh's 24day

administration collapsed, and Parliament was dissolved.

A general election to the Lok Sabha was held in January 1980. Congress received 42.7 per

cent of the total vote and won an overwhelming majority (352) of the elective seats. The

Janata Party won only 31 seats, while the Lok Dal won 41 seats. Indira Gandhi was reinstated

as Prime Minister. Presidential rule was imposed in nine states, hitherto governed by

opposition parties, in February 1980.

Entry of Rajiv Gandhi


in June 1981 for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies were notable because of

the landslide victory that Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister's son, obtained in the former

constituency of his late brother (Sanjay Gandhi, killed in an air crash in 1980) and because of

the failure, of the fragmented Janata Party to win any seats. In February 1983, Rajiv Gandhi

became a General Secretary of Congress (I) Party.

Presidential Rule in Assam

Indira Gandhi's government faced serious problems, as disturbance in several states

continued in 1982 and 1983, with violent protests against the presence of Bengali

immigrants. Presidential rule in Assam was replaced by a Congress (I) government in

February 1982, and further elections were held in Assam (and Meghalaya) in February 1983,

amid scenes of communal violence.

The Punjab Problem

There was also unrest in the Sikh Community of Punjab, despite the election to the Indian

presidency in July 1982 of Giani Zail Singh, the first Sikh to hold the position/Demands were

made for greater religious recognition, for the settlement of grievances over land and water

rights, and over the sharing of the state capital at Chandigarh with Haryana; in addition, a

minority called for the creation of a separate Sikh state 'Khalistan'. In October 1983, the state

was brought under presidential rule.


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Assassination of Indira Gandhi

In October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by militant Sikh members of her personal

guard. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, was immediately sworn in as Prime Minister of India, The

widespread communal violence that erupted throughout India, resulting in more than 2500

deaths, was curbed by the prompt action of government. Congress (l) achieved a decisive

victory in elections to Lok Sahha in December.

Mizoram Issue

In June 1980, Laldenga, the leader of the Mizo National Front (MNF) signed a peace

agreement with Rajiv Gandhi, thus ending Mizoram's 25 years of rebellion. The accord

granted Mizoram limited autonomy in drafting the local laws, independent trade with

neighbouring foreign countries and a general assembly for all Mizo rebels.

Ayodhya Issue

In October 1990, the BJP withdrew support to the National Front, following the arrest of its

President, Lal Krishna Advani, as he led a controversial procession of Hindu devotees to the

holy town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to begin the construction of a Hindu temple at the

site of an ancient mosque. Paramilitary troops were sent to Ayodhya, and thousands of Hindu

activists were arrested, in an attempt to prevent a MuslimHindu

confrontation. However,

following repeated clashes between police and crowds, Hindu extremists stormed and

slightly damaged the mosque and laid siege to it for several days.

Politics in India (19912004)

Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

On May 21, 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, by members of the Tamil separatist group,

the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), while campaigning in Tamil Nadu. P.V.

Narashimha Rao, who had been elected as acting President of Congress (I) following Rajiv

Gandhi's assassination, assumed the premiership and appointed a new Council of Ministers.

The new government's main priority on assuming power was the attempt to solve the

country's severe economic crisis, caused by an enormous foreign debt, high inflation, a large

deficit on the current account of the balance of payments and an extreme shortage of foreign

exchange reserves.


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Rise of BjP as a Force in Indian Political Scene

After a brief reconciliatory period in latter half of 1991, Rao's government began to face

problems both from opposition agitation and from within its own ranks. The country was also

shocked by revelations of a major financial scandal involving the Bombay Stock Exchange.

It was alleged that several members of the Council of Ministers were among the

beneficiaries, allegations that prompted the resignation of the Minister of State for


Following the collapse of talks between the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) (World Hindu

Council) and the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee regarding the Ayodhya dispute,

the VHP and the BJP appealed for volunteers to begin the construction of a Hindu temple on

the site of the existing mosque on December 6. The temple/mosque complex was stormed by

the Hindu volunteers, who proceeded to tear the remains of the ancient mosque. This highly

inflammatory action provoked widespread communal violence throughout India (Bombay, or

Mumbai as it was later renamed, being one of the worstaffected


The leaders of the BJP, including L. K. Advani and the Party's President, Dr Murli Manohar

Joshi, and the leaders of the VHP were arrested. Uttar Pradesh was placed under President


In midDecember,

the Government established a commission of inquiry into the events

leading to the demolition of the mosque at Ayodhya. In late December, the government

announced plans to acquire all the disputed areas in Ayodhya. The acquired land would be

made available to two trusts which would be responsible for the construction of a new Hindu

temple and a new mosque, and for the planned development of the sile.

Hawala Scandal

In January 1996, however, accusations of corruption came to the force in Indian politics

when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged seven leading politicians, including

L. K. Advani of the BJP, Devi Lal and Arjun Singh, and sought the prosecution of three

Union Ministers (who subsequently resigned) for allegedly accepting bribes of large amounts

of money from Delhibased

industrialist, Surendra Jain.

The sheer scale of the scandal (known as the Hawala—illegal money transfer case), with

regard to the size of the sums involved and the numbers of people implicated, led to

widespread public disillusionment with Politicians in general.


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Entry of Sonia Gandhi in Politics

In May, Sonia Gandhi joined Congress (I) as a 'primary member', and in the following month

Sitaram Kesri Was reelectcd President of the party in Congress (I)'s first contested leadership

poll since 1977.

K. R. Narayanan—First 'Dalit' President of India

Kocheril Raman Narayanan was elected, almost unanimously, as India's new President; this

appointment was particularly notable in that Narayanan was the first Indian President with a

Dalit background.

Fall of Gujral's Government

The UF government looked increasingly insecure in late 1997 when Congress (I) threatened

to withdraw parliamentary support unless the Tamil Nadubased

DMK, which was alleged to

be indirectly implicated 1991 assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, was expelled from the coalition.

Prime Minister Gujral rejected Congress (I)'s demand, and was, consequently, forced to

resign when Congress (I) withdrew support to the Government as earlier threatened. This

constituted the third government's collapse in less than two years.

Sonia Gandhi, Congress (l)'s Trump Card

During December 1997, Congress (I) suffered a series of internal splits and defections in at

least six states. In an apparent attempt to the fragmentation of the ailing Congress (I), in late

December, Sonia Gandhi agreed to campaign on behalf of the party in the runup

to the

general elections.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee becomes 'PM' Again

In the general elections, the BJP and its regional allies established themselves as the preeminent

force in Indian politics. The BJP emerged as the largest party, with 178 of the 545

seats in the Lok Sabha, but win an absolute majority. On March 15 1999, President

Narayanan appointed the Parliamentary leader BJP, Atal Bihari Vajpae (who had briefly held

the premiership in mid1996),

as Prime Minister and asked him to form a stable coalition



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Congress back to Power in 2004 General Elections

NDA suffered defeat wining only 185 seats, of 542 Lok Sabha seats. The INC and its allies

won 220 with others having a share of 137 seats. Dr Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister

with Defence and home (Ministers) being handled by Shivraj Patil and Pranab Mukherjec


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