India's voters go to the polls on the third and sixth of January (1980) to decide whether former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, will again rule the country's 650 million people.
India's voters go to the polls on the third and sixth of January (1980) to decide whether former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, will again rule the country's 650 million people. The mid-term general election was announced in August after two governments formed by Mrs. Gandhi's political opponents formed by Mrs. Gandhi's political opponents resigned within six weeks. Since then, India has been without a fully-fledged government.
SYNOPSIS: The election comes at a critical time for the Indian economy, and parts of the country are going through the worst drought in living memory. This drought in living memory. This is Mrs. Gandhi's constituency of Rae Bareli.
It was here, in March 1977, that the voters of Rae Bareli revolted and dethroned the "Empress of India". The basic issue at stake in this area is whether Mrs. Gandhi will be able to improve this poor and still backward part of northern india.
During her tenure as prime Minister, she was accused of neglecting the rural parts of this constituency -- instead concentrating on the urban centres. Now -- thirty three months after she was decisively voted out of office -- she has asked India's eligible voters to forgive her past mistakes. Mrs. Gandhi, who was Prime Minister for eleven years, says she alone can bring back political stability, restore law and order and revive the flagging economy.
In a bid to woo voters, Mrs. Gandhi spent three days in the Rae Bareli constituency, visiting both urban centres and the smaller villages which, earlier, had complained that she neglected them.
But her record during her 21 months of emergency rule -- which ended with her defeat in the 1977 elections -- remains the major obstacle to her return to power. All other political leaders -- divided amongst themselves, but united against Mrs. Gandhi -- say the vote should be for democracy and against dictatorship. Her Congress One party is expected to emerge as the largest single party in the Lower House -- or Lok Shaba. But opinion pollsters say it is unlikely to win an absolute majority.
Whether or not Mrs Gandhi is able to form a government depends on how many seats go to her main rival Jagivan Ram and his janata Party. There are some factors working in Mrs Gandhi's favour. The emergency is not the issue it once was and her opponents are divided -- and to some extent, discredited.