November 29 - The day Rajiv Gandhi resigned as Prime Minister of India

Elections are about winning and loosing, but the nation's work never stops.

Nooruddin InamdarUpdated: Monday, November 28, 2022, 05:30 PM IST
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Rajiv Gandhi |

The date November 29 is significant in Indian politics because Rajiv Gandhi, the then-Congress Prime Minister of India and a member of the powerful Gandhi clan, was the first to resign from the top post on this date in 1989.

Gandhi, "in all humility," accepted the verdict of the people, who defected from his Congress Party in large numbers in elections that ended on, only three days before his announcement of quitting the post without even counting of votes.

The Congress Party, which had dominated Indian politics for over 40 years since independence, formally declared that it would relinquish its claim to power "at that point in time," fearing that it would lose its majority in Parliament.

President Ramaswamy Venkataraman has asked Gandhi to lead a caretaker government until a new prime minister is appointed.

Following the general election, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, leader of the Janata Dal Party and the National Front coalition, formed a new government. However, that government could not last long, and Chandra Shekhar Singh Solanki of the Samajwadi Party took over as Prime Minister after only a year.

Emotionally bid adieu

In an emotional speech, he assures the new government of constructive cooperation.

Gandhi made an emotional statement on national television shortly after his election, promising "constructive cooperation" to the new government, saying, "With all my strength, I shall continue to serve the people of India," he said. "Elections are about winning and loosing, but the nation's work never stops."

Golden period

Gandhi, a licensed Indian Airlines pilot, began actively participating in national politics in 1981. After only three years on the job, he was appointed Prime Minister just hours after Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984.

The Indian people and press completely lionised him, as evidenced by the general elections two months later, in which his party won by a whopping majority of 415 seats out of the 544-seat lower house of Parliament. Despite his lack of political experience, he began his tenure with immense goodwill.

And the decline begins

His charisma and charm were insufficient to keep his party's support. Gandhi's government began to lose support halfway through its five-year term, plagued by administrative problems and reports of official corruption.

In the election held in a year, despite Gandhi's severe campaigning, the Congress Party was decisively lost the elections in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Initially, the Congress Party performed well in Tamil Nadu and other southern states in the election last week. Gains in the south, however, were nearly wiped out by crushing defeats in India's more populous north and west, which were known as Congress Party strongholds.

Conservatives and Communists

According to a survey conducted prior to the election results, the Congress party could only win 190 seats, while the Janata Dal, or People's Party, has 137, the Bharatiya Janata, or Indian People's Party, has 86, the Communist Party of India-Marxist has 32, and the Communist Party of India has 11. The four opposition parties combined for slightly more than the 263 seats required for a majority of the 525 seats up for grabs.

The new alliance was the continuation of a working agreement among the opposition's different parties to help each other's candidates in the recent election rather than dividing the vote, a formula that proved far more successful than analysts had predicted.

A Household Dynasty

The Nehru family led India for 42 years since independence, led by Rajiv Gandhi, his mother, and his grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru. Though Nehru resigned as Prime Minister, the Nehru dynasty remained in power, as the 45-year-old was re-elected as the leader of his party.

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