'Janata' factor - a paradigm shift in Indian politics

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New Delhi, May 26: The 'Janata' factor, which came up as a result of an anti-Congress sentiment, has come full circle with some political forces which grouped together against the party in the 1970s now siding with it, a new book says.

The year 1977 marked a shift in the Indian political system with an alternative to the Congress emerging at the Centre for the first time since independence. This shift was a result of the growing anguish amongst the masses against the excesses of the Emergency imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi and the coming together of Opposition elements in the form of the Janata Party to undo these. This shift and the ensuing political events in the last 30 years have been discussed in detail in the book, 'The Janata Enigma 30 out of 60', launched here last week .

The first half of the book is based on M Phil dissertation titled ''The Two Janata Experiments : A Comparitive Study'' of author and journalist Kumar Rajesh. It gives a comprehensive analysis and comparitive study of the first two 'Janata' experiments --1977 Janata Party government with Morarji Desai as Prime Minister and 1989 National Front government headed by Mr V P Singh-- and the intermediate period between them with the return of the Congress government at the Centre and fragmentation of the Janata Party.

The second part describes the developments in the Indian party system and government formations between 1989 and 2007, with reference to the role of the 'Janata' factor in those. A section consists of a series of interviews with various political leaders, who were actual participants and observers of the 'Janata' experiments from 1997-2007.

The downfall of the 1977 and 1989 governments was a result of the internal bickerings within the Janata Party and the National Front respectively. Both had a fatal flaw in so far as the egos and personality clashes among the top leaders either paralysed the functioning of the government or affected its longevity.

This is amply reflected in the fact that both Morarji Desai and Charan Singh were ''waiting for each other's deaths'' (as stated by former law minister Shanti Bhushan in the book) and the famous VP Singh- Chandra Shekhar clash.

The lack of an adequate and proportionate leverage in the government for the concerned social forces also attributed to their fall, according to the author.

The BJP, which emerged after the elements of the Jana Sangh decided to quit the Janata Party, is now the leading Opposition party at the Centre. Also, anti-BJPism has become as big a factor in the present circumstances in Indian politics.

The Janata Dal was formed through the merger of one of the major Janata Party factions, the Lok Dal and a group of Congressmen led by Mr V P Singh.

The post 1991 'Janata experiments' have been discussed in detail by Delhi University professor MP Singh in the book. He explains how democratic competitiveness in the multi-party system, that remains a continuing feature of our political system since the 1989 parliamentary elections, heralded the coalition era at the Centre.

Even the Congress, which was vociferously against coalition politics initially, has accepted it as a political reality and heads the UPA government now. It also lent outside support to both the United Front governments under Mr H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral.

In 1998, the author points out, the country got its first non-Congress background Prime Minister in the form of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee heading the NDA government. Earlier non-Congress governments were headed by former Congressmen-- Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, VP Singh, Chandra Shekhar, HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral.

Incidentally, the Vajpayee government of 1999 was the only non-Congress government which lasted for a full term of five years.

The author claims that no former Congressman will ever head a non-Congress government in the country in the future.

The various splinter groups of the Janata Dal-- the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular) and others-- have emerged as major political forces in several states.

With some elements of the 'Janata' current now aligned with the Congress (Lalu Prasad) and others with the BJP (George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav), the 'Janata' factor has surely come a full-circle in Indian politics, the book says.

UNI

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