30 September, 2020

Wanted: Helping Hands

A fractious UF anoints I.K. Gujral as India's 12th PM. But how long will he last?

Wanted: Helping Hands

WHOEVER said Sundays are meant for relaxation? Ask president Shankar Dayal Sharma and he will tell you that Indian politicians make the most important moves on Sundays. It was on Easter Sunday, March 30, the Congress president Sitaram Kesri delivered his letter bomb, pulling the rug from under the United Front (UF) government led by H.D. Deve Gowda. The Congress' withdrawal of support sent the entire nation through a harrowing three-week period of uncertainty. And it was again on a Sunday, April 20, that the UF leaders regrouped and rallied behind Inder Kumar Gujaral to prop up a successor government.

But unlike Easter Sunday when he was taken totally by surprise, the President was well prepared this time. The previous night, he had received a request from the UF for an appointment. He called them at 11 am on Sunday. Leaders of 16 UF parties flocked to Rashtrapati Bhawan on the dot and submitted the letter, informing Sharma that Gujral would be the chosen one--the UF's Parliamentary Party leader--and formally staked their claim to form the...



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