The elections to the 12th Lok Sabha were held in the backdrop of the inability of parties opposed to the BJP being unable to provide a government (United Front) that would last. The BJP was on a high, and the Congress saw one important change, almost a coup, as family loyalists brought Sonia Gandhi in as the party president and ousted Sitaram Kesri.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister. President K R Narayanan decided to ask the single-largest party to produce “letters of support” from allies. The BJP managed to do that, but the process set the stage for a rocky few months to follow. Jayalalithaa made the BJP wait a long time before she gave the letter of support to Vajpayee.
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This Lok Sabha saw the birth of the BJP-led NDA, which kept off the table its principal Hindutva issues: Ayodhya, uniform civil code and scrapping of Article 370 that gives Jammu & Kashmir special status.
It also established the fact that the BJP too was in the coalition game despite having ridiculed the United Front coalition until only weeks earlier.
Leader & Trendsetter
Sonia Gandhi contested these elections. She won from both her seats: Amethi in UP and Bellary in Karnataka.