INDIRA AND AFTER
This election was fought in the immediate backdrop of the assassination of PM Indira Gandhi by her guards, followed by riots that saw Sikhs being hunted down in several cities. Just before this was a phase of separatism and Sikh militancy, while Assam in 1983 had seen the massacre of thousands in Nellie. A shaky Indira had been taking an ambiguous stand on both Assam and Punjab — until t the storming of the Golden Temple, which angered Sikhs and eventually led to her assassination. Rajiv Gandhi (MP from Amethi, constituency of his deceased brother Sanjay) was instantly sworn in as PM although the cabinet had more senior members such as Pranab Mukherjee. What seemed to dictate judgment completely was concerns about national security.
This remains the last election that gave any single party a clear majority. It was the first time the Congress won a three-quarters-plus majority. It was the poll debut of Hindu-right BJP. Five independents were elected, a record low.
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N T Rama Rao had founded the Telugu Desam Party just months earlier; in its first LS election, it contested 34 seats and won 30 against the Congress wave, and became the largest opposition party.