• Short Summary

    President Sanjiva Reddy of India has asked Chaudhury Charan Singh to form a government. Mr?

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    President Sanjiva Reddy of India has asked Chaudhury Charan Singh to form a government. Mr Charan Singh was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister under Mr Morarji Desai, who resigned just over a week ago, and has since been heading a caretaker administration. He hopes to complete his cabinet by Saturday (July 28) and ask for a vote of confidence from the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian Parliament) within the next few weeks.

    SYNOPSIS: Mr Charan Singh is 76, and has a long record of political experience, including several dramatic resignations. He comes from Uttar Pradesh, in Northern India, and draws his support largely from the farming community. He held various ministries in the state government in the 1950s and '60s eventually becoming its Chief Minister.

    As national Finance Minister, he has switched government support from heavy industry to the farmers, and would be likely to continue this policy as Prime Minister.

    He gained office in New Delhi after the general election of 1977. He was leader of the Bharatiya Lok Dal -- one of the parties hurriedly formed into the Janata coalition to defeat Mrs Indira Gandhi. When Janata won the election, he became Minister for Home Affairs under Mr Desai.

    One of Mr Charan Singh's closest allies is Mr Raj Narain. The two were dismissed by Mr Desai from the government in June of last year (Mr Narain was Health Minister). Both had been critical of Mr Desai personally, and had accused the government of failing to act vigorously enough against Mrs Gandhi. They have worked together again in the present crisis. Mr Narain broke away from the Janata Party first, to form the "Janata S" (for Secular), divorcing himself from the Hindu Jana Sangh, another important element in the Desai coalition. Then Mr Charan Singh resigned office to join him, was elected leader of Janata S, and so became Opposition leader in Parliament.

    After Mr Charan Singh's dismissal 13 months ago, the rifts in the Janata Party continued -- but were healed for the time being when he was taken back into the government last January as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. His latest resignation -- the 12th in his long career -- has now put him within reach of the highest political office in India.

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