Indian Express

Once upon a poll: Ninth Lok Sabha Elections (1989)

Fall of the Congress and the idea of 'supporting" a government from outside gained traction. Tweet This
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November 22 to 26 November 22 to 26

End of Majority Rule
The unprecedented majority enjoyed by the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi (1984-9), led, ironically, to a huge opposition build up and charges of “hubris” affecting the government. A former Gandhi family loyalist, V.P. Singh, also finance and defence minister, emerged the focal point of the agitation against “corruption”. Alleged kickbacks in the purchase of guns from Bofors of Sweden made “Bofors” shortoland for corruption allegations. The slogan “Raja nahi fakir hai, Bharat ki Takdeer hai” set the stage for the results.

(Half the tally of the previous polls; the congress sat in opposition when V.P.Singh was PM, supported the Chandrashekhar government and then pulled out)

(Right and Left supported V P Singh government)

THE JANATA DAL  government, with V P Singh as PM, was sworn in. It implemented the Mandal Commission report, recommending reservation for Other Backward Classes, and triggered a storm with the BJP launching a rath yatra to build a temple in Ayodhya in place of the Babri Masjid. V P Singh lost the support of the House in the winter of 1990.
Chandrashekharr, MP from Ballia, was sworn in as PM, this time with support from the Congress which, however, withdrew support leading to his resignation on March 6, 1991. The Lok Sabha was dissolved a week later, having survived two years.

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CHANDRASHEKHARR, MP from Ballia, was sworn in as PM, this time with support from the Congress which, however, withdrew support leading to his resignation on March 6, 1991. The Lok Sabha was dissolved a week later, having survived two years.

Standout features

A huge spurt in the electorate strength, with the voting age lowered to 18 from 21. Since these polls, no single party has secured a majority in the Lok Sabha. The idea of “supporting” a government from outside gained traction. First with the Left and Right and then the Congress (though they had tried to prop up Charan Singh too in 1979, for a few weeks) the socialist strain in India politics has never improved upon its score in this election and has steadily lost ground since. The hindu Right consolidated its position as a strong opposition, but one with almost exclusively a north Indian base.

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