Political outline of India :Part 1
The running threads and series of events shape the outline of political history of India. With the negotiated act of transfer of power from the British rulers of a colonial empire two sovereign countries were created-India and Pakistan based on their religious majorities.This provinces with Muslim majority constituted territories of Pakistan divided into wings-East and West. There were around 565 princely states over which British exercised paramountcy. Now that the states regained full sovereignty they also had the choice of joining either Pakistan or India.There were furious diplomatic activities in both India and Pakistan to sign the instruments of accession to their respective dominions.Initially ,554 states were joined with the proposal to concede only powers of defence ,external affairs and communications. Also, different states like Gujarat and Orissa were joined with provinces with exact number to be 216.
Constituent Assembly framed the Constitution of Indian republic in 1950 was framed in 1946 with extreme caution to include in the Assembly,representatives of a large range of opinions from different region of leaders such as BR Ambedkar, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and also many legal and constitutional experts.It provided for a parliamentary system of govt. with Prime Minister as executive responsible to Parliament but President as indirectly elected head of state.It also provided for an independent judiciary and federal type of govt.
Jawaharlal Nehru was president of Congress when he became PM of interim government in 1946 In the first three general elections, the congress won around 45% of votes and 75% of seats in Parliament.
The border war with China in 1962 was the first major occasion when wisdom of Nehru’s foreign policy was questioned at home. Indian positions of several places along with disputed Himalayan border had to be abandoned as its troops retreated,the policy of non alignment too seemed to lose credibility because India had to seek military assistance from US .By 1963,for this first time in sixteen years in power,Nehru government faced a no confidence motion in Parliament.
When Nehru died in 1964, it was the Syndicate which secured the election by the parliamentary part of Lal Bahadur Shastri as the next PM.The most important event in the brief tenure as PM was the war with Pakistan in October 1965. However he died in January 1966. This time the working committee failed to secure a unanimous vote and decided to put up Indira Gandhi as its nominee.
In general elections congress secured only 54% of the votes and this brought a complete new situation in Indian politics,the federal structure now called upon to deal with relations between Congress govt at the centre and several non congress govt in the states.Despite some variations in strength,congress did rule in every state until 1967 with exceptions to J n K , nagaland and kerala.This period saw formation and collapse of non Congress governments in the states.The government was reduced to a party but continued to be in office . In december 1970,the PM decided not to continue with the minority govt and called for fresh elections before completing the full term.
During 1971 Elections, only the DMK and other left parties regained their strength with sweeping majority. In 1971 again, the political leadership of East Pakistan declared its autonomy from the western wing and with the massive influx of refugees from Bangladesh, Indira Gandhi signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union and launched a war to liberate Bangladesh.The military action was made and Pak army surrendered within two weeks. During this period there was widespread unrest and following the international oil crisis of 1973, there were huge price rises.In 1974,there was massive country wide strike by railway worker which was ruthlessly crushed.There were widespread movements which turned violent and in 1975, Allahabad High Court delivered judgement against Indira Gandhi for using malpractices in 1971 elections and her election was set aside. On June 25,1975 a state of emergency was promulgated in India.Tens of thousands of leaders and activists were arrested and 26 political organisations were banned.
A week after emergency was declared the government announced several measures to be taken.In August 1976, different amendments in the constitution were made and Indian republic was now to be called”sovereign,democratic,secular and socialist.” In January 1977 , announcement of elections were made and the emergency was not withdrawn but the the harshness was toned down.The elections resulted in first non congress government at the Center with Morarji Desai as PM. The Janata government was the first experiment with operating coalition government at the centre. The democracy was restored and the amendments made during emergency were undone.In june 1978 Assembly elections held in which non congress government formed the majority in north india.In July 1979, a no confidence motion was passed against the government with the allegations of corruption against Kanti Desai-son of the PM.With the stream of resignation and defections, Morarji Desai resigned and a new government with coalition of Congress was formed under Charan Singh as PM but three weeks later congress withdrew its support and government was dissolved calling for fresh elections.
Faced with divided oppositions,the Congress-1 won comfortable majority in Parliament during 1980 elections and the period saw various resentments and unrest in different parts of the country and formation of non congress governments.In Punjab,Akali Dal became assertive demanding a sovereign state of Khalistan. In June 1984 Indian army entered the golden temple in Amritsar and after a pitched battle captured a large stocks of arms . In october 1984,Indira Gandhi herself was killed by members of her own security guard and her assassination led to riots in India.
Rajiv Gandhi’s Regime
The eighth general elections took place in December 1984 and it produced the largest victory ever for congress-I. Rajiv Gandhi was appointed and several reforms were made with a new ideological stamp.The period also saw a distinct deterioration in the communal situation in the country.However,during 1989 general elections there were allegations of corruption within congress which resulted in unity among the opposition and congress was defeated with only 197 seats. The national front could not win a majority on its own,but formed a govt with VP singh as PM with outside support of BJP and Left Parties.
The national front government only lasted a year and the internal and external conflicts within the government were increased.The Ayodhya case and reservations of Other Backward Classes resulted into violent protests .
Chandra Shekhar became PM of a minority govt with congress-I support.The govt was entirely on the support of congress and the 9th lok sabha was dissolved in less than a year and half.
Halfway through general elections in 1991 Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated at an election meeting in Tamil Nadu by suspected tamil militants from Sri Lanka. The congress didn’t win majority but came out single largest party. PV Narasimha Rao was elected PM.
The new govt took up the task of bringing economic to the forefront of political debate and communal situations rose at its worst ever since Independence .Narsimha Rao’s government however displayed great skill in parliamentary manoeuvres in order to stay in power.By 1995,as many as twelve states had non congress governments.
The same trend continued in general elections with BJP making a strong show in north and west states and emerged as the single largest party in Parliament with AB Vajpayee as PM. The Vajpayee ministry barely lasted a week and he resigned. The Indian politics was marked by rise in northern India of a new political assertion of lower caste groups during this period.