In India, the crushing re-election victory of former prime minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, foreshadows important changes in the tenor of India's national politics.
In India, the crushing re-election victory of former prime minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, foreshadows important changes in the tenor of India's national politics. Mrs Gandhi trounced her opponent from the ruling Janata Party, Mr. Veerendra Patil, by more than seventy-seven thousand votes for the Lok-Sabha, or Lower House, seat in southern Chikmagalur. Swept from power in March, 1977, Mrs Gandhi has hardly lost a skirmish against the government since returning a year ago from political seclusion.
SYNOPSIS: A huge crowd of supporters, including leaders from her so-called "Indira Congress" Party, greeted Mrs Gandhi on her return to New Delhi after her victory.
Observers say her presence in the lower house must upset the already-divided government of Prime Minister Morarji Desai.
Mr. Desai had not campaigned against Mrs Gandhi in Chikmagalur, saying he did not campaign in by-elections. Instead, he drew criticism by continuing a leisurely tour of the remote northeast while there were violent Sikh demonstrations in Delhi, and two Sikh leaders joined three others who had walked out of his council of ministers. For four months, Mr. Desai has repeatedly postponed a cabinet reshuffle because he feared it could spark off squabbling among rival factions competing for influence.
Mrs Gandhi was due to leave on Sunday (12 November) for a tour of Britain before India's parliament meets on November the twentieth. Observers believe Mrs Gandhi's presence could, in fact, unify the Janata Party factions because many would face political oblivion if the government were to fall. Mrs Gandhi's first post-election comment was to deny that she wanted to become opposition leader.