India was plunged into its worst constitutional crisis since independence on Monday (20 August) when the sudden collapse of the new coalition Government was followed by presidential uncertainty over what to do next.
India was plunged into its worst constitutional crisis since independence on Monday (20 August) when the sudden collapse of the new coalition Government was followed by presidential uncertainty over what to do next. President Sanjiva Reddy has no constitutional precedent to guide him and must decide whether or not to dissolve Parliament so that a mid-term poll can be held within six months.
Mr. Charan Singh resigned after only twenty-four days in office -- the shortest term ever served by an Indian Premier. He decided not to submit to a Parliamentary vote of confidence which he was certain to lose following a decision by Mrs. Indira Gandhi's Congress Party not to support him. Janata Party leader Mr. jagjivan Ram is now staking his claim to the premiership He represents the Harijans -- or Untouchables and has the largest Parliamentary following.
The so-called political "horse-trading" over the past months has provoked widespread protests among Indians. And, according to a report from the Manchester Guardian newspaper many Indians feel the country's foundation have been eroded by the inefficiency, corruption and double-dealing of their politicians.
Political observers believe Mrs. Gandhi's decision not to support Mr. Singh was motivated by her desire to exploit the failure of her political opponents to run the country in any future election campaign. However, Mr. Singh said on Monday (20 August) he had resigned rather than be blackmailed into withdrawing the controversial court cases arising out of Mrs. Gandhi's emergency rule. But Mrs. Gandhi's emergency rule. But Mrs. Gandhi denies she made the withdrawal of the charges a condition of her support. President Reddy may call on Mr. Jagjivan Ram to form a new Government but once again much could depend on Mrs. Gandhi. A majority for Mr. Ram will depend on defections from other parties or the support of Mrs. Gandhi's followers.
Mr. Singh advised the President to call a mid-term poll but the monsoon season could make this very difficult. Another suggested solution is that President Reddy should head a government administration until elections can be organised. But a decision has not yet been taken on how to end India's latest political crisis.