Indian Politics | Trends and Developments | Class 12 | Political Science |
Context of Events of 1990’s
Mrs.Gandhi’s cruel murder in 1984 plunged the entire nation into deep anguish. But the Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 got the kind of mandate that the electorates had denied even to Nehru and Gandhi. As 1980’s came to a close the country saw a few developments which made a long continuing effects on Indian Politics. These were as follows –
1. The Decline or End of the Congress System – in 1984 the Congress has secured around 48 percent of the popular votes and captured 415 Lok Sabha seats. But in 1989 its tally was reduced to just 187 Lok Sabha seats. In 1991 its leader was invited to form the government. However , the 1996, 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha proved ruinous for the Congress. In 2004 and again in 2009 the Congress did not come to power with a majority of its own and influenced Indian Politics.
2. The Mandal Issue, more castes in the reservation nets – Dr. B.R.Ambedkar regarded Caste as a big monster and wanted to kill this monster which affected the Indian Politics and Indian Society. He pleaded for reservation for SC’s and ST’s in Lok Sabha, State Legislatures and in the government services just to reform the socio-economic structure of the country. But V.P Singh’s decision to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission and reserve 27 percent of the jobs in Central Government for the Other Backward Castes was born out of political controversary. The disagreements between supporters and critics of reservations for OBC’s came to be known as the Mandal Issue.
3. New Economic Policy – the 1991 the Government announced a New Economic Policy, linking Indian Economy to the Global Market. Both the leftists and right-wing writers had strongly criticized the policy of Globalization. This policy they said was adversely affecting the growth of agriculture and India’s small scale industries. But Globalization is irreversible. Therefore, all governments since 1991 have been supporting and implementing the economic reforms.
4. Demolition and Disputed Structure at Ayodhya – on 6 December 1992 the disputed structure at Ayodhya fell. It naturally provoked diverse reactions. The Hindus widely believe that the Babri Masjid was constructed in the year 1528 after demolishing a temple at Raamjanmbhoomi. This event aroused a great controversy about the true nature of a Secular Policy and had had a great impact on Indian Politics.
5. Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination – on 21 May 1991 Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Sri Lankan terrorist organization LTTE while he was campaigning for upcoming Lok Sabha in the state of Tamil Nadu. Because he got involved in the ethnic war of Sri Lanka. And after the assassination of Rajiv, it was Narasimha Rao who helmed the country.
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Decline of Congress
• The Congress under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi received a massive victory in 1984 Lok Sabha elections.
• In 1989 the verdict was against the Congress, but it was not a passive Verdict in favour of any one party.
• Although the Congress continued to be the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, it did not stake its claim to form the government.
• It was the National Front that formed the government, with the outside support of the BJP and the leftist parties.
• Inspite of the Decline, Congress continued to influence country’s politics because no other party filled the Political vacuum of Indian Politics.
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Era of Coalitions
• Between 1989 and 2014 no party could form a government at the centre with a majority of its own.
• The vote share of the Congress steadily declined since its top performance in 1984.
• There began an era of alliance politics or multi-party governments in Indian Politics in 1989. It was called the Era of Coalition.
• The term Coalition means an alliance of political parties forming a government.
• Fragmentation of Indian polity could be attributed to many factors such as –
The Decline of the Congress,
Rise of Caste-based parties especially in UP and Bihar.
Rise of the number of the regional parties such as Telugu Desam Party, Akali Dal , Shiv Sena and Biju Janata Dal.
1. The National Front Governments – The main constituents of the National Front were the Janata Dal, Congress-S, Telugu Desam Party and Asom Gana Parishad. V.P Singh was the President of the Janata Dal formed in 1988. The V.P Singh’s government fell on 7 November 1990 since he lost the confidence of the House. The BJP which supported this government, had withdrawn support to the National Front.
2. The United Front Governments – The 1996 elections again threw up a hung Lok Sabha. The Congress had won just 140 seats. The President Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee to form the government. This government lasted for just two weeks.
On June 1 the United Front’s leader H.D Deve Gowda was sworn in as India’s new Prime Minister. This government was supported by the Congress. It ran for 11 months . Thereafter I.K Gujral became the Prime Minister again with the outside support of the Congress. But the Congress withdrew its support to Gujral’s government over dispute with the United Front.
3. The NDA Government – On March 1998 BJP-led NDA’s leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as the country’s new Prime Minister. His government was short lived because in April 1999 Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK withdrew its support to the government. The 12th Lok Sabha was dissolved. The BJP led NDA obtained a clear majority in the 13th Lok Sabha that was constituted in October 1999. Atal Bihari headed the government from 1998 to 2004.
4. The UPA government – In May 2004 the Congress led UPA formed the government , with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister. The UPA comprised some 15 parties including the Congress, the RJD, the DMK, the Nationalist Congress Party and many more. The Congress led UPA emerged as the largest alliance in the Lok Sabha. Therefore on 22 May 2009 Dr. Manmohan Singh was again sworn in as the Prime Minister of India
Political Rise of the Other Backward Classes
• The decline of the Congress led to the rise of intermediate castes such as the Jats and Yadavs of the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and Marathas in Maharashtra in Indian Politics.
• The OBC’s consisted of a large section of Indian Society.
• Backward Classes can be identified by their social and educational backwardness.
• Backward Castes can also be treated as the Backward Classes and the SC’s and ST’s do not fall into this category.
• The parties which enjoyed OBC’s support now seemed destined to play a major role in Indian Politics.
The First Backward Classes Commission
• The first Backward Classes Commission with Kaka Kalelkar as the Chairman was appointed in 1953. It submitted 1st report in 1955. The report was not implemented by the Union Government. At that time the then Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur introduced reservations in the government services for the backward communities.
The Mandal Commission
• A second Commission on Backward Classes was appointed by the Janata Government in 1978, with B.P Mandal as the Chairman.
• The Commission had to determine the criteria for defining the socially and educationally backward class and investigate their social and educational conditions of the classes and to recommend the steps to be taken to improve their conditions.
• The Commission submitted its report in December 1980. Its recommendations were as follows –
1. The Backward Castes should be treated as the Backward Classes.
2. The population of the other backward classes is around 52 percent of the total population of India. Their representation in public services is very poor in proportion to their numbers.
3. Of all the government jobs 27 percent should be reserved for OBC students in all scientific, technical and professional institutions run by the Union as well as State governments. The quantum of reservation should be 27 percent.
4. Separate Financial institutions for providing financial and technical assistance should be established for the backward classes.
Anti-Reservation Agitations and Protests
In August 1990 the National Front Government decided to reserve 27 percent of the posts under the Government of India and Central Public Undertakings and Nationalized banks in favour of the OBC’s. This decision led to strong protests. The anti-reservation agitations took violent turn in many places
The Verdict of the Supreme Court
In the famous ‘Indira Sawhney Case’, named after one of the petitioners the court upheld the decision to grant reservation to OBC’s. An important aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision was that the creamy layer or the well-off among the backward communities should be excluded from the right of reservation. All major parties do now support the policy of reservation.
Political Fallouts – Rise of Dalits in India
The 1980’s also saw the rise of dalit organizations in different parts of the country and in Indian Politics.
The BAMCEF and DS-4
• Kanshi Ram was the first leader outside Congress to catch the imagination of the dalits.
• The origins of the Bahujan Samaj Party lay in two organizations formed by Kanshi Ram. They were the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) and Dalit Soshit Samaj Samiti (DS-4).
• BAMCEF was not like an ordinary trade union fighting for such things as the working condition and pay of its members.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
• In 1984 Kanshi Ram founded the BSP. Ambedkar was never really a force in north India’s politics , Kanshi Ram filled that vacuum.
• The BSP was not prepared to allow a few high castes to rule over the Bahujan Samaj , that is the Dalits, ST’s and SC’s and other oppressed castes.
• Kanshi Ram with the help of Mayawati was successful in playing the major role in the politics of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi.
• Earlier the party was an isolationist ones declaring that it will have no truck with the high-caste Hindus and Vaishya community. But later it had to change its strategy and hence the party started giving tickets to the people from the high caste Hindus.
Communalism, Secularism and Democracy
Another development during this period was the rise of politics based on strong religious beliefs. Many political commentators called it ‘Communalism in politics’. The Bharatiya Janata Party came into being as a political party as a result of a split in the Janata Party in 1980. Its historical roots lay in the Bharatiya Jana Sangha founded by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in 1951.
What is Hindutva?
V.D Savarkar used the word ‘hindu’ for a person who regards Bharat as his Fatherland as well as the Holy land. The concept of Hindutva is broader than a religious dogma or doctrine. Unlike other religions , Hinduism has no organized church , no uniformity of worship, no chosen ‘Sons of God’ and ‘no messenger of God’.
Two developments close to 1986 brought BJP near the Hindutva brand of politics and had a major impact on Indian Politics: Shah Bano Case and the Ayodhya Dispute.
Shah Bano Case
• Shah Bano, a 62 years old Muslim woman divorced by her husband filed a suit of maintenance by him.
• The Madhya Pradesh High Court upheld her case and passed a judgment in the favour of Bano.
• But the Conservative sections of the Muslim Community raised their agitated voice against the judgment. They saw in it an interference in Muslim Personnel Law.
• Under the pressure from Muslim conservatives the then PM Rajiv Gandhi got the Muslim Women protection of rights on divorce act passed by Indian Parliament in 1986.
• The Act nullified the verdict of the Supreme Court. And this act was widely interpreted as anti-women act.
The Ayodhya Dispute
• The second development was the verdict by the District Judge of Faizabad in February 1986 that the locks be opened and the worship be allowed at the spot at the birthplace of the Lord Rama.
• The Hindus believe that the Babri Masjid was constructed in the year 1528 after demolishing a temple at Ramjanmbhoomi.
• After the independence the Hindus renewed their legal battle and in 1949 the idols Rama and Sita and Lakshman were installed by some people inside the disputed structure.
• In November 1989 the Shilanyas ceremony of the temple was performed after the Union and the State government had given the permission to do so.
• Pressure was brought to bear on the government to stop the construction of the temple.
• On the other hand the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad started to mobilize the Hindus in support of the construction plan. At this point BJP joined the Temple Movement.
• Lal Krishna Advani’s Rathyatra from Somnath to Ayodhya in 1990 was an epoch-making event.
• A well organized campaign to construct a Rama Temple at Ayodhya had gathered momentum throughout India.
• On 22 July 1992 the Supreme Court called for the suspension of the construction work on the land which had been acquired for construction of the Temple.
• On 6 December 1992 thousands of Karsevaks had assembled at Ayodhya and they mounted on domes of the disputed structure and demolished the so-called mosque.
Consequences of the Events at Ayodhya
1. Waves of Communal violence engulfed many parts of India.
2. He Centre dismissed Kalyan Singh’s government and imposed President’s Rule in UP. The BJP government in MP, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh were also dismissed.
3. The leaders of Ayodhya Movement were arrested .
4. The government imposed a ban on RSS and Vishva Hindu Parishad along with other organizations.
5. Kalyan Singh was held under Contempt of Court for his inaction during demolition.
6. Violence had burst in Mumbai in January 1993. There were serial bomb blasts in Mumbai again in March 1993.
7. The BJP regretted the demolition of the Mosque and declared that it wished to construct temple respectfully.
8. The Liberhan Commission was set up on 16 December 1992 to look into the circumstances leading to the demolition of the site.
A Coalition government is subject to many constraints but there had been a general agreement amongst leaders of the Congress ,BJP and a few other parties about how the country should be governed.
1. New Economic Policies – all parties now agree that this could bring prosperity in the country and make India a strong economic power.
2. Welfare of Backward Castes – all parties now agree and propagate the idea of welfare for backward classes and do not oppose to reservations for them given they are socially and educationally weak.
3. Influence of Regional and State Parties in National Politics – coalition politics had made enough space for regional parties to fit in national politics.
4. Not ideological, but just Pragmatic Politics – practically all the parties have made unprincipled alliances just to remain in power or to keep a particular party out of power.
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