AFTER MANDAL AND RAJIV
THIS ELECTION was determined by the stability slogan. And so much was also happening economically and socially that it was hard to assess its impact. The Mandal Commission report set in motion new political processes in north, splitting parties and dislodging the Congress from UP and Bihar, setting a trend that is yet to be reversed. The socialist stream split and the Samajwadi Janata Party ;ed by Chandrasekhar in opposition to V.P Singh was formed, while Mulayam Singh Yadav emerged as the new leader of the socialist in UP. The assiasination of Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu happened during the course of campaigning and cast a long shadow not just on ties with Sri Lanka but also in terms of the shape of the polls and of the Congress.
The Congress formed a minority government. Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv’s wife, refused to ‘take over’ and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister P V Narasimha Rao was picked as India’s first PM from south India. He had decided not to contest this election because of ill-health. Later, he won a byelection from Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh.
STANDOUT FEATURES: This government was India’s first and only (so far) single-party minority government to last its full term. It was the first time in electoral history that the size of the electorate fell. Rationalisation of electoral rolls may have been the reason.
LEADERS & TRENDSETTERS
The political career of India’s current PM of 10 years, Manmohan Singh, was launched at this time, as Rao decided to pick a “specialist” economist. I G Patel too was considered but he refused.
TN SESHAN was the election commissioner and this was when the EC moved from a backroom role to loudly proclaiming its autonomy. Because of his hyperactivity in an increasingly multi-party scenario, the Lok Sabha in 1993 brought in a constitutional amendment to make the EC a multi-member commission instead of a single-member one, and it has remained so.