INTRODUCTION: The aftermath of the Indian general election, and the opposition Janata Party and its electoral allies are preparing to take over the reins of government.
INTRODUCTION: The aftermath of the Indian general election, and the opposition Janata Party and its electoral allies are preparing to take over the reins of government. It is the first hold no power that the opposition has had in thirty years of Congress Party rule. The most urgent task facing them is the choice of Prime Minister to succeed Mrs Indira Gandhi who resigned on Tuesday (22 March) after her crushing defeat in the elections. The Prime Minister will be formally chosen on Thursday (24 March), although it was expected that the matter would actually be decided the day before in various private meetings. Meanwhile, opposition supporters have been continuing to celebrate their runway victory.
SYNOPSIS: At the Delhi headquarters of the new Congress for Democracy party, which allied in the election with the Janata Party, leaders were adorned on Tuesday (22 March) with the traditional garlands of flowers. The Congress for Democracy won only 28 of the 542 seats in the Indian Parliament's lower house, but it ensured the rout of Mrs Gandhi's Congress Party by capturing key districts in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The party's leader, Mr. Jagjivan Ram, has been tipped as a possible contender for Prime Minister, although the obvious choice is the Janata Party leader, the veteran 81-year-old Morarji Desai.
A direct result of Mrs Gandhi's defeat was the release from jail on Tuesday (22 March) of Socialist leader George Fernandes, alleged to have been involved in violent attempts to overthrow the Gandhi government. He won a seat while still in jail.
Socialist Raj Narain, the man who toppled Mrs Gandhi in her own constituency, was given a hero's welcome when he arrived in Delhi. He beat the Indian Prime Minister in the Rae Bareli constituency by a comfortable 55,200 votes. It was a double triumph, as Mr Narain was one of the many opposition politicians jailed under the emergency rule imposed by Mrs Gandhi.