There's to be a general election in India at the end of February. The Prime?
There's to be a general election in India at the end of February. The Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, last night asked the President, Mr Giri, to dissolve Parliament and hold the election a year ahead of schedule. It is the first time that an Indian Parliament has failed to run its full term.
The early general election in India is a result of Mrs Gandhi's week majority in the Indian Parliament, itself brought about by a split in the Congress Party. The left wing Ruling Congress Party seeks to pursue a policy of increasing socialisation and nationalisation; the right wing Opposition Congress Party seeks to reverse this policy. Both wings of the party have formed liaisons, if not alliances, with other parties sympathetic to their aims.
The biggest crisis in the party's history came in the summer of last year (1969) when the Indian Government nationalised fourteen of the countries biggest banks. The finance minister resigned, the stock exchanges closed down and the rank and file of the party took sides. Shortly after-wards the party met and expelled Mrs Gandhi; she and her followers refused to recognise the expulsion and the split was complete.
The latest crisis in the party has arisen over the discontinuation of the privy purses of the hereditary princes, demanded by Mrs Gandhi. When she summarily announced their discontinuation, they appealed to the Indian Supreme court and the court upheld their right to keep their private incomes.
Mrs Gandhi now goes to the country to appeal to the electorate to give her the power to accelerate the nationalisation of India's resources and to eliminate the inequity of extreme wealth and extreme poverty in India.
SYNOPSIS: India, the world's biggest parliamentary democracy with some 300 million voters, will elect a new parliament at the end of February. The present Parliament has been dissolved at the request of the Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi.
Last year the stock exchanges closed, the Minister of Finance resigned and the Congress party split when Mrs Gandhi's government nationalised the country's fourteen biggest banks. In West Bengal, which is under direct presidential rule, Mrs Gandhi was greeted with demonstrations, some supporting her,some calling for even more socialist reforms in India.
Back in New Delhi Mrs Gandhi minimised the divisions within the Congress Party when she addressed last year's party convention.
But the party secretary Mr Sadiq Ali took a harder line and announced that Mrs Gandhi was expelled from the party.
The split in the party was complete. Mrs Gandhi and her supporters in the Government became the "Ruling" Congress Party, the rest became the "Opposition" Congress.
The latest split in the party came when Mrs Gandhi insisted that India's hereditary princes, the Rajahs, should lose the private incomes from the government which they have enjoyed since independence. They appealed to the Supreme Court and it found in their favour.
Mrs Gandhi's majority is now so reduced that she feels that only a new mandate from the country at large will give her the authority she needs to implement her policies.