INTRODUCTION: Mr. Morarji Desai, the 81-year-old former Deputy Prime Minister has succeeded Mrs. Indira Gandhi?
INTRODUCTION: Mr. Morarji Desai, the 81-year-old former Deputy Prime Minister has succeeded Mrs. Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister of India. The veteran politician, who has previously opposed Mrs. Gandhi, was forced out of office after several clashes with her.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Desai was unanimously elected leader of the Janata Party, alliance of opposition parties, which inflicted a heavy defeat on the ruling Congress Party in general elections for the new parliament. He was sworn in on Thursday (24 March) by acting President Basappa Jatti as the country's first non-Congress Prime Minister. Mr. Desai was unanimously chosen by Janata members, but the election was boycotted by Mr. Jagjivan Ram, chairman of the Congress for Democracy (CFD) faction and his main rival for leadership. The new prime minister was jailed in solitary confinement during Mrs. Gandhi's recently-ended state of emergency.
The Janata Party holds an absolute majority of 271 seats in the 542 seat Lok Sabha Lower House, with three seats yet to be filled. Mr. Desai has been an opponent of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for several years.
Mr. Desai's main rival for the Premiership, Mr. Jagjivan Ram, said he congratulated Mr. Desai on his election, but his own party, the CFD, would not join the new government. Mr. Ram said the CFD would continue as a separate party in Parliament and outside, but would extend all support to the Janata alliance in accordance with the election manifesto. The CFD holds 28 seats in the new parliament. Mr. Ram is also a former member of Mrs. Gandhi's Congress Party. He resigned as Agriculture Minister less than two months ago.