24 January, 2021

A Failed Gambit

The President and the EC upset Rao's pre-election gameplan

A Failed Gambit
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

THE 19th of March was a particularly bad day for Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. He received two clear rebuffs from two separate constitutional authorities. The first came in the morning from President Shankar Dayal Sharma, who declined assent to the two ordinances which had been sent to him by the Government for approval. In the afternoon, the Election Commission turned down the Government's request to delay the announcement of the schedule for the 11th general elections to the Lok Sabha.

It is difficult to say which of the two snubs hurt Rao more. He had wanted the President to clear the two ordinances—the first sought reservation in government jobs for Dalit Christians, a move aimed at boosting the Congress' proDalit image, and the second aimed at shortening the campaign period for the elections from the customary three weeks to a mere fortnight. The calculation was that this would hit a cash-strapped Opposition hard, and provide an edge to the Prime Minister and his party's campaign with the Indian Air Force aircraft at their disposal. But the President,...

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