Iraq War


India Elections

US Imperialism

Climate Change

Peak Oil


WSF In India







Gujarat Pogrom






Join Mailing List

Submit Articles

Contact Us


BJP Defeated In India

By Harish Khare

14 May, 2004
The Hindu

The electorate has decisively rejected the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance and has voted in a Congress-led coalition spearheaded by Sonia Gandhi. A clean sweep by the Congress alliance in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are central to the upset verdict, first of its kind since 1977.

Mr. Vajpayee has resigned as Prime Minister and the mood within the Congress is overwhelmingly in favour of Ms. Sonia Gandhi assuming the prime ministerial mantle. Ms. Gandhi is scheduled to be elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary party on Saturday.

With the Left Front indicating that it would have no problem with Ms. Gandhi in a prime ministerial role, a Sonia Gandhi-led government has emerged as a viable proposition. Also, indications are that the Left may consider joining such a coalition. However, the Left has let it be known that it would be disinclined to let the Congress call all the shots.

The Congress has already begun work on a Common Minimum Programme to be discussed and agreed on with the allies. The party has constituted a drafting committee headed by Manmohan Singh for this purpose. The members include Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Jaipal Reddy and Jairam Ramesh.

Contrary to the expectations and predictions of a "hung parliament," the final figures for the 14th Lok Sabha indicate an unambiguous mandate for the Congress and its pre-election allies. On its own the Congress has emerged as the largest single party, with 145 seats under its belt. Along with the Left parties (62 seats), the Congress coalition (with 216 seats) is comfortably placed to cross the halfway mark in the new Lok Sabha.

The BJP, which till last night still entertained some hopes, threw in the towel within the first two hours of the counting of votes. The defeat of over half a dozen Cabinet Ministers and the BJP's failure to retain its position as the single largest party brought home the extent of the rebuff. By noon the BJP and the NDA leaders gathered at the Prime Minister's residence and decided to accept the verdict of rejection.

Mr. Vajpayee presided over, for the last time, a Cabinet meeting at which it was formally decided that the Council of Ministers should resign. Later, accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, the Prime Minister drove to Rashtrapati Bhavan to hand in his resignation. According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan press communiqué, the President has asked Mr. Vajpayee to continue "in office till alternative arrangements are made."

Later, the Prime Minister addressed the nation and noted that "my party and alliance may have lost, but India has won." Mr. Vajpayee will be the Leader of the Opposition and will not retire from public life, according to Sushma Swaraj, the outgoing Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, who briefed reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

The Samajwadi Party, with 35 seats, and the Bahujan Samaj Party, with 19 seats, have emerged as key players. But the Left Front, with a tally of 62, has replaced the Telugu Desam Party as the most influential bloc. Ms. Mayawati of the BSP has already pledged support to a "secular government" and the Samajwadi Party is also expected to pitch in with its numbers, though the party is likely to name a price for its support and the stability it would bring to the new governing arrangement.

Though a Sonia Gandhi-led coalition looks inevitable, its passage will still have to be negotiated over the next couple of days; all of the Congress' allies are not equally excited about Ms. Gandhi assuming prime ministership. The Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar will have to be given an escape route in the matter.

Today's prominent winners include Mr. Vajpayee, Mr. Advani, George Fernandes, Kalyan Singh, Ms. Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Pranab Mukherjee, Ajit Jogi, Chandra Shekhar, Ajit Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, P.A. Sangma, Somnath Chatterjee, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, S. Bangarappa, Suresh Prabhu, and P. Chidambaram. Among the prominent losers were Murli Manohar Joshi, Sharad Yadav, Ram Naik, Jagmohan, Sahib Singh Verma, Yashwant Sinha, P.M. Sayeed, Shivraj Patil, Buta Singh, Balram Jhakhar, and C.K. Jaffar Sharief.