Monday, January 21, 2008

A timeline of political & social events in INDIA AFTER GANDHI

I recently finished reading a fascinating, comprehensive book “India After Gandhi” written by respected scholar and historian Ramachandra Guha. 

Below I have tried to capture most of the significant events that took place in India in and after 1947. I have tried my best to capture most of the events, at least the ones that are mentioned in this book. This, by no means, is a complete time-line.


  •  India gets Independence form British rule on 15th August. (The date is chosen by Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, as it was the second anniversary of the day when Japanese army surrendered to the Allied force in the 2nd World War.)
  • Pakistan is created by partitioning India. Millions die in clashes and religious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims and especially Sikhs and Muslims.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru becomes the first Prime Minister of Independent India
  • Travancore (the first princely state to question the right of the Congress to succeed the British rule) finally decides to accede to Indian Union after C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyer, the chief advisor and diwan of Travancore is attacked by a man.
  • Bhopal (Hindu majority, Muslim ruler) and Jodhpur (Hindu majority, Hindu ruler, but because of its proximity to Pakistan the king was alluded by the idea of getting better terms from that Dominion) also follows Travancore’s example and signs the instrument of accession.
  • Junagadh’s Muslim nawab (ruling chiefly Hindu population) gets acceptance from Pakistan to join the Dominion, but due to obvious popular agitation, ten days later the nawab (Sir Shah Nawaz) hands over the administration to India. (A referendum was held in February 1948, resulting in 91% voting in favor of acceding to India.)
  • The Hindu maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh signs the Instrument of Accession after several thousand armed men (mostly Pathans from Pakistan) invads his state from the North. India, in turn, sends its troops to fight with the intruders. (It was Mountbatten who suggested that it would be best to secure Kashmir state’s accession before sending troops.)
  • A delegation of Naga National Council (most autonomous among the tribes in North-East) meets governor of Assam to discuss the terms by which Nagas can join Indian Union. Nehru reiterated that they could get autonomy but not independence.


  •  Mahatma Gandhi is shot dead by a Hindu chauvinist and an RSS member from Maharashtra – Nathuram Godse on 30th January.
  •  Gandhi’s death reconciles the bitter relationship between Nehru and Patel, which could otherwise have significant negative consequences for the nation.
  • India sends troops and took control over the State of Hyderabad (85% Hindus, but army, police and civil service were dominated by Muslims). This becomes easier decision to make for Patel after Mountbatten’s departure from India.
  • India decides to take Kashmir issue to UN.  But as UN supported Pakistan’s position, Nehru immediately regrets his decision.
  • Sheikh Abdulla (pro-India and Nehru’s close friend) becomes the prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Pakistan and India battles in the later months of 1948, India recaptures Dras, Kargil and Poonch.
  • Jaipal Singh (president of Adivasi Mahashbha) gives his presidential speech and asks for speedy creation of Jharkhand. (He speaks of how “British imperialism” is being replaced by “Bihari Imperialism” for Adivasis after independence.)


  •  India becomes a full-fledged republic on 26th January. This date was originally chosen by Indian National Congress in 1930, when it passed a countrywide resolution of celebrating last Sunday of January (26th) in support of purna swaraj.
  • To Nehru’s annoyance, Rajendra Prasad who was close to Patel and had wider popularity in Congress, (not C. Rajagopalachari who was the Governor General and Nehru’s friend) becomes the first President.
  • Nehru visits US for the first time. His visit is widely covered and publicized by American press, but his meetings with the US State Department went nowhere.
  • A popular movement forces the maharaja of Manipur to join with India. After Manipur merges with India, the territory is designated as “Part C” state. (It has no popularly elected body and is ruled by a chief commissioner who reports directly to Delhi.)


  • The constitution of India (with 395 articles and 8 schedules – it’s probably the longest in the world) goes into effect in January. The most influential (out of more than 300) members of the Constituent Assembly were: Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad who was the president of the assembly, the chairman of the Drafting Committee B. R. Ambedkar, a Gujarati polymath K. M. Munshi and a Tamil advocate general Krishnaswami Aiyar.
  • Nehru criticizes China’s invasion and annexation of Tibet, while being careful of not “overdoing” the criticism. Patel urges Nehru to strengthen defence, but Nehru thinks that attack from China is unlikely.
  • Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel dies.
  • By this time, more than 500 “centers of feudal autocracy” had been acceded to India. Patel’s achievement owes hugely to his secretary V. P. Menon (a Malyali from Malabar) who was the chief draftsman of princely integration and its first chronicler.


  •  Respected Gandhian J. B. Kripalani forms KMPP (Kisan Majdoor Praja Party).
  • American congress debates the food request from India, while Soviet Union sends 50,000 tons of wheat loosening its frosty relationship (due to CPI in India) in early last few years.
  • A disciple of Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave begins his Bhoodan movement (which would eventually obtain more than 4 million acres from zamindars.)
  • Nehru and Ambedkar make several attempts to pass the (liberal) Hindu Code Bill into law but the opposition was considerable within Parliament as well as outside of it. RSS was amongst the many groups that fiercely opposed it.


  • First general election in independent India, which chooses to move straight into universal adult franchise. (Chief Election Commissioner is Sukumar Sen)
  • At that time, 175 million Indians were aged 21 or more, and 85% of them could not read or write.
  • 60% of the total registered voters exercise their franchise in what was termed as “the biggest experiment in democracy in human history” by Sukumar Sen.
  • Congress receives 45% of the vote and wins 75% of the seats.
  • The Akali Dal leader master Tara Singh (originally Hindu, later converted to Sikh) is arrested again for making “inflammatory” speeches during election. He started making claims that Sikhism was in danger and insisted on having a separate nation for his religion.
  • After the election, Andhra movement (statehood for Telugu speaking people) becomes strong again.
  • A man named Potti Sriramulu begins fast until death. Nehru ignores this. Sriramulu dies on fifty-eighth day into this fast, pulling huge reaction from Andhra public.
  • Several months after Potti Sriramulu’s death, after damage to the state property runs in millions, a new state of Andhra Pradesh is carved out of Madras state.
  • The situation becomes worse in Jammu after Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee’s death. Mookerjee (who left Nehru’s cabinet to form Bhartiya Jana Sangh) dies in jail after trying to enter Srinagar against state government’s will.
  • Naga National Council’s chief Angami Phizo meets with Nehru, but Nehru is adamant about not giving independence to Nagas.


  •  Sheikh Abdulla is dismissed from National Congress and arrested after the rift broke between the two segments of the party: one pro-India and the other pro-independence of Kashmir. Ghulam Mohammed (famously known as “Bakshi”) becomes the new pro-Indian populist prime minister of Kashmir.
  • Naga National Council leaders start collecting arms, organize “village guards” and go underground. Police raids suspected areas further alienating the villagers. Indian Army’s presence considerably increases in the area.


  • By this time, India has total 40 embassies around the world. (The goal was set by Nehru five years ago, after he personally supervised the creation of Indian Foreign Service.)
  • India officially recognizes Tibet as a part of China, and Nehru visits China for the first time.
  • French finally gives up its territory Pondicherry to India.
  • Nehru visits the site of Bhakhra (Sutlej river) dam to formally initiate the project. At this time, the 680 feet dam was the second highest in the world. (Only the Grand Coulee Dam on Colorado River was higher.)
  • The first IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) is inaugurated by Nehru.


  •  After 18 months of intensive work, The State Recognition Committee submits its report with recommendations about redistributing the areas (into states).
  • The new states based on languages come into being. (Although Nehru was opposed to the creation of states on lingual basis, it was inevitable after SRC’s report that further strengthened the popular will.)
  • Hindu Marriage Act and Hindu Succession passes into law. The radical changes in Hindu laws pertaining to marriage & inheritance were mainly the work of Nehru and Ambedkar.


  •  In a colorful and well-attended ceremony, Ambedkar converts to Buddhism in Nagpur. Many dalits joined him in the conversion.
  •  (Six weeks later) Ambedkar dies in December after months of ill health, diabetes and complications thereof.
  • The newly formed Naga Hills Force is on full scale war on the Naga Hills – not getting any coverage from both Indian and International press.


  •  Second general elections are held in India. Thus, India “certifiably” joins the league of democracies. Sukumar Sen is still the chief election commissioner.
  • Slightly less than 50% adult Indians votes out of total 193 million who registered to vote.
  • Mrs. Indira Gandhi becomes Nehru’s official hostess during the election campaign.
  • Since S. P. Mookerjee was dead and Jayaprakash Narayan had abandoned politics for social work, Congress gets a comfortable majority in the parliament (371 seats).
  • Congress faces regional challenges: In Orissa Congress is strongly opposed by Ganatantra Parishad (local landlords), in Bombay by Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti and Mahagujarat Parishad (both fighting for separate states), in South by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), In Kerala by Communist Party of India (CPI).
  • The victory of CPI in Kerala is noteworthy. The first chance for communist to govern a full-fledged province in a large country. E. M. S. Namboodiripad becomes the new chief minister of Kerala.
  • The Mundhra scandal (large investments were made by state owned Life Insurance Company in a private first in Kanpur owned by Haridas Mundhra) makes the first serious dent in Congress’ image of Gandhian austerity.


  •  The first molten iron comes out of the blast furnace in Bhilai, Madhya Pradesh where Russians and Indians worked shoulder to shoulder to lay the foundations of iron industry in India. (The Germans built one plant in Rurkela, Orissa and the British in Durgapur, West Bengal. America didn’t get any such agreements.)
  • Mrs. Indira Gandhi is elected the president of Indian National Congress.
  • Nehru’s government succumbs to popular sentiment and dismisses Kerala’s Communist government.
  • C. Rajagopalachari (a.k.a. Rajaji) launches a new political party, Swatantra Party.  (He firmly believed that there should be an opposition group within the Congress, but his proposal to do so was rejected by Congress.)
  • Dalai Lama crosses the McMahon line and enters the territory of India, making the Indo-Chinese relationship even more bitter and resentful.


  •  The states of Gujarat and Maharashtra come into being on May 1st. Bombay gets allocated to the latter.
  • The Naga people’s convention presents a memorandum to the prime minister demanding a separate state of Nagaland within Indian Union. With Naga question successfully internationalized (by the fierce leader A. Phizo), Nehru succumbs and declares that a new state Nagaland will be craved out of Assam.


  •  After waiting for 14 years for a peaceful solution with the Portuguese colony, Nehru’s government decides to “liberate” Goa. Indian troops enters Goa and successfully finishes Operation Vijay.


  •  Congress retains its majority in the general elections (361 seats out of 494).
  • A “phony war” that had been going on since 1959 becomes real when Chinese army invades the eastern (northeast frontier area south of McMahon line and north part of Assam and western (Aksai Chin area south of Sinkiang and east part of Jammu & Kashmir) sectors. Indians were unprepared for this. V. K. Krishna Menon is finally removed from the post of defense minister.
  • Surprisingly, Chinese announce unilateral ceasefire. In NEFA they pulls back to the north of McMahon line and in the Ladakh sector they retreat to their positions before these hostilities began. (By this time, according to Defence Ministry’s statistics, 1,383 Indian soldiers got killed, 3,968 became POW, and 1,696 were still missing.)
  • In the aftermath of the war, DMK (headed by C. N. Annadurai) dropped its secessionism. It no longer wanted a separate country, but it did want to protect the culture and language of Tamil speaking people.
  • The state of Nagaland is created.


  •  Nehru’s illness becomes sever. He persuades the party to return Lal Bahadur Shastri to the Cabinet. Shastri becomes the de facto prime minister.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru dies. Gulzarilal Nanda is sworn in a acting prime minister.
  • Congress Working Committee finalizes on Lal Bahadur Shastri as Nehru’s successor. (Other contenders were: A Tamilian K. Kamraj, the congress president, and Morarji Desai, an outstanding administrator from Gujarat who made it clear that he wanted the job.)
  • China tests a nuclear device. Dr. Homi Bhabha gives a talk on All India Radio suggesting that India should develop a nuclear deterrent of its own.


  •  As 26th January, 1965 approached, opponents of Hindi geared up for action. (The constitution that went into effect in 1950, gave fifteen years of grace period when English was to be used along with Hindi in communication between center and state. After 15 years, Hindi would prevail.)
  • After several protests in Madras, appeals signed by leading politicians of the time (from Madras, Bengal, Mysore), and resignation of two union ministers, Shastri gave in and declared that (a) every state will have the right to do their own business in language of their own choice, (b) inter-state communications will either be in English or accompanied by an authentic English translator, (c) non-Hindi states will be free to correspond to the Center in English, (d) in the transaction of business at the Center English will be continued to be used, and (e) Indian Civil Services examination would continue to be conducted in English.
  • Sheikh Abdulla, while returning from his trip to Mecca, stops at Algiers and meets with Chinese prime minister (who also happened to be in Algerian capital). He is taken under arrest as soon as he arrives at New Delhi.
  • A conflict broke over a salt marsh in Kachchh desert which was claimed by both India and Pakistan. Pakistan (president – Ayub Khan) used their American tanks successfully, forcing Indians to withdraw some 40 miles.
  • In the late summer, Pakistan army starts off Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir to invoke rebellion in the region. As the rebellion did not get materialized, they condemned Operation Grand Slam in Jammu. Indians head straight for Lahor (whether Lahor fell or not remains a disputed question.) Both sides claim victory.
  • Shastri becomes the first prime minister to increase the budget for agriculture. (Jai Jawan, Jai Kishan.)


  • By this time, only 1.77% of senior administrative posts were occupied by low-caste Indians, 8.86% of clerical jobs and as many as 17.9% of posts of peons and attendents.
  • Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan meet in Taskent along with the Soviet Union Prime Minister Kosygin, and signs “Taskent Agreemetn”.
  • On the same night Lal Bahadur Shashtri dies in sleep, of cardiac arrest.
  • Gulzarilal Nanda is (once again) sworn in as acting prime minister.
  • Congress president Kamraj endorse Indira Gandhi’s name. But Morarji Desai decides to contest for the leadership.
  • Indira Gandhi becomes the second woman elected to lead a free country (after Ceylon’s Sirimavo Bandarnaike).
  • Mizo National Front (which first sought a separate state and then a separate country) launches uprising against Indian government.
  • The government decides to devalue the Rupee. The exchange rate (earlier pegged at $1 = Rs. 4.76) became $1=Rs. 7.50.
  • Punjab and Hariyana stated divide. Cahndigadh remains as capital for both.


  • Fourth general election since independence.
  •  Congress retains majority, but the % of votes decline from previous elections.
  • In 22 of the 75 constituencies in Kashmir, Congress candidates are returned unopposed, after the rival’s nomination papers gets rejected.
  • P. N. Haksar, a Kashmiri Brahman, then the deputy high commissioner is London is asked by Indira Gandhi to join her Secretariat. (Since then, until 1973 he remains probably the most influential and powerful person in the government.)
  • After the banks were nationalized, Mrs. Gandhi turns to abolition of the privileges of the prices.


  • One of the worst communal riots after independence takes place in Ahmedabad on Mahatma’s 100th birth anniversary. More than 1000 people die.


  •  The Prime Minister calls for the election 14 months ahead of its schedule (astutely disassociating the general elections from the elections of the state assemblies).
  •  The size of the electorate in nation’s fifth general election: 275 million.
  • Mrs. Gandhi’s Congress (I) wins the election with comfortable majority.
  • India starts hosting training camps for Bengali guerrillas (known as “Mukti Bahini”) preparing them to wage a war against East Pakistan army.
  • Early December Pakistani bombers (under general Yahya Khan) attack airfields all along the western border, and simultaneously 7 regiments are attacked in Kashmir.
  • The war lasts little less than 2 weeks. The Indian army moved to Dacca from four directions, and formally recognizes the Provisional Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Pakistani troops surrender.
  • By this time, sex ratio in India is 931 women to 1000 men. While 39% of males can read or write, but only 18.4% of females can.


  • Students in Gajarat lead a movement, named Nav Nirman, demanding the dismissal of the state government, which was quite notorious for corruption. (Chimanbhai Patel is the Chief Minister of Gujarat.) The movement becomes violent, and Gujarat comes under “President’s Rule” as a result.
  • The Republic of India acquires a chunk of territory that previously constituted the quasi-independent state of Sikkim. (Previously, Sikkim was ruled by is hereditary monarch but it was politically and economically dependent on India.)


  • Indira Gandhi becomes India’s first Prime Minister to testify in court (for the hearing of a petition filed by Ra Narain who had lost to Mrs. Gandhi in the Parliamentary election in 1971, the petition alleged that she won the election through corrupt practices).
  • On 26th June, state of emergency is declared in India. Many opposition leaders, including, Jayprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, are sent to jail. Sanjay Gandhi becomes Prime Minister’s close associate during this time of crucial political importance.


  •  To the surprise of Mrs. Gandhi’s political opponents, she announces that Parliament was to be dissolved and elections were to be held. (Precisely what or who persuaded the Prime Minister to end the emergency? Remains a mystery.)
  • Congress faces a wider wash-out in the North, but performs somewhat well in South. For the first time in the nation’s 30-year history, a party other than the Congress (Janata Party) would govern at the Centre.
  • The “grand old men” behind Janata Party – Jayprakash Narayan and J. B. Kripalani – chooses Morarji Desai for the post of Prime Minister. External affairs department goes to Atal Behari Vajpayee.
  • DMK’s 10-year rule comes to an end. M. G. Ramachandran’s (MGR) charisma and charm brings AIADMK victory in the state elections.
  • Under pressure from the backward caste’s lobby within Janata, Morarji Desai appoints a commission to examine whether reservation should also be extended to the jobs in Central Government. The commission was headed by a politician from Bihar, B. P. Mandal.


  • Jimmy Carter comes to visit India, the first US president to do so since Eisenhower.
  • External Affairs minister Vajpayee visits Pakistan and charms the hosts, the dictator Zia-Ul-Haq included, who thought that Vajpayee as a Jana Sangh man, would be anti-muslim and anti-Pakistan.


  • Morarji Desai resigns after Janata Party splits into three parts: headed by Morarji Desai, Jagjivan Ram and Charan Singh.
  • Jayprakash Narayan dies after the disintegration of Janata Party.
  • Charan Singh is sworn as Prime Minster, but a month later Indira’s Congress (I) withdraws support, which forces a mid-term election.


  • Mrs. Gandhi, now sixty-three, returns to power as a result of the mid-term election.
  • Sanjay Gandhi dies in a plane accident. He did three loops in the air, tried a fourth but lost control. Due to this, Mrs. Gandhi’s elder son Rajiv Gandhi, feels increasing pressure to enter politics.
  • By early 1980s the movement in the tribal state of Jharkhand takes more militant form. Naxalites activists, arrested during the emergency but released afterwards, makes their presence felt in the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh. The Asamese Nationalist movement (originally born out of hostilities between Asamese and Bengali speaking people in Asam) acquires gigantic proportions.
  • In Punjab, when Akalis were dismissed and Congress took power, a group of students meets at the Golden Temple and proclaims an independent state of Punjab. The republic is named Khalistan.
  • The state of Gujarat was convulsed by clashes between forward and backward classes.
  • After Janata Party was routed in the elections, its Jana Sangh members broke away to form a new party – Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) – to represent and advance he “Hindu” interest.


  • A great film actor N. T. Rama Rao (NTR) forms a new regional political party, Telugu Desam, which stands for “the honor and self-respect for the 60 million Telugu speaking people”. A year later, he will be sworn as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Sheikh Abdulla dies, and Farooq Abdullah takes his father’s job.


  •  After years of terrorism and killings, President’s Rule is imposed on Punjab. And Bhindranwale (an obscure preacher) takes up residence in Akal Takht at the Golden Temple.


  • Attacks on Hindu and some Sikh civilians become more frequent in Punjab.  Major General R. S. Brar is summoned by the Prime Minster to lead the operation to rid the Golden Temple of terrorism.
  • The Operation Bluestar finishes successfully after death of (government estimates) 4 officers, 70 soldiers and around 500 terrorists. Outside Punjab, many people appreciated Mrs. Gandhi’s strong and necessary (if belated) actions, but this left a collective wound on the psyche of Sikhs (even those Sikhs who previously opposed Bhindranwale).
  • Indira Gandhi is shot dead by two of her Sikh personal bodyguards.
  • Violence follows Mrs. Gandhi’s death, more than 1,000 Sikhs dies in Delhi alone. The police simply looked on, or sometimes even actively aided the looting and murder.
  • In the worst industrial accident in human history, 2,000 people die due to the release of MIC (methyl isocyanate) in Bhopal. It came from a pesticide plant owned and run by an American firm, Union Carbide.
  •  18th general election in Indian takes place in December.


  • Rajiv Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister after sweeping majority in the parliamentary election with more than 400 seats.
  • The first budget by Rajiv Gandhi’s government (Finance Minister: V. P. Singh) seeks to liberalize trade sector. Licensing regime is simplified, with crucial sectors such as machine tools, textiles, drugs and computers are deregulated. Curbs on assets of individual companies are partially lifted, and rates of corporate and personal income tax are reduced.
  • In the famous “Shah Bano verdict”, the Supreme Court dismisses Mohammed Ahmed Khan (Shah Bano’s ex-husband) and confirms that Khan would have to continue paying Shah Bano monthly allowance. (Khan’s argument was that according to Islamic Law he was responsible to pay allowance for only three months. SC invoked section 125 of the Criminal Procedure code, whereby a divorced woman was entitled to claim an allowance from her former husband if he had taken another wife – as Khan did – and if she had not remarried – as was the case with Bano.)
  • Reliance experiences growth rates unprecedented in Indian industry. Through the 1980s, the company’s asset grows at an estimated 60% per year.


  • Succumbing the pressure from Islamist lobby, the government introduced a Muslim Women’s Bill (which eventually became law) in Parliament that sought to overturn the Supreme Court verdict, by taking the Muslim personal law out of the purview of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  • The government of India signs a peace agreement with the leader of Mizo National Front. By its terms, the MNF rebels lays down their arms and government says it would grant full statehood to Mizoram. (The model here was the agreement of 1975 in Kashmir when Sheikh Abdullah came into power in similar fashion.)
  • The district judge of Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh) ordered that the locks be opened to permit worship at a small Hindu shrine, which was located inside a large mosque (known as Babri Masjid) built in 16th century by a general of the Mughal emperor Babur.
  • In Bengal, the Nepali-speaking people in Darjeeling hill area begins asking for a separate state under the leadership of former soldier Subhash Ghisingh. Eventually, the prime minister persuades him to accept an autonomous hill council rather than a separate state.
  • In Tripura, tribal activists begins struggle against the Bengalis who had migrated in large numbers after the partition.
  • To tackle the resurgence of terrorism in Punjab, a new chief is brought in K. P. S. Gill.


  • Episodes of Ramayana started showing in January on national telecast (Doordarshan). Estimated viewer-ship is 80 million.
  • Bad monsoon causes famines in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa and many other parts of the country affecting about 200 million people by one estimate.
  • Rajiv Gandhi is asked by Sri Lankan president, J. R. Jayaverden, to help mediate the conflict - a bloody civil war between Sinhala majority and Tamil minority. As many as 48,000 soldiers are eventually stationed in Sri Lanka. This became very unpopular especially among the Tamils who always thought that India was on their side.
  • A storm breaks out over the revelation that commissions had been paid to the middlemen in a deal involving the sale of the Swedish Bofors guns to the Indian Army. V. P. Singh leaves the cabinet as well as Congress.
  • Studies show that class (still) strongly overlaps with caste in India, where the truly disadvantaged continues to be Harijans or Scheduled Castes. (For example, a survey in Karnataka reveals that 80% of the SCs living in countryside and as well as more than 60% of SCs living in towns are below the official poverty line.)


  • India tests its first surface-to-surface missile, capable to attacking targets that are as far as 100 miles away.
  •  V. P. Singh’s party Jana Morcha is merged with the old Janata Party to form Janata Dal, and becomes the focal point for anti-Congress sentiment.


  • Rajiv Gandhi visits China – the first prime minister to do so in last three decades.
  • Congress faces serious challenges in the General elections from: Asom Gana Parishad in Assam, Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, Akalis in Punjab, and from the Hindu right – Bharatiya Janata Party. Congress wins only 197 seats, down from more than 200 from its previous tally.
  • The general elections of 1989 were the first in which no single party won a majority.
  • V. P. Singh is sworn as the head of National Front government, with the left an BJP choosing to support it from outside. (Singh becomes the second non-Congress prime minister of India, who, like his the first, spent most of his life in Congress.)

I had to end the timeline at 1989, as the events after that are only sparsely captured in this book. (The reason is that, as Guha says, it’s always becomes very difficult to remain impartial while analyzing events that are more recent. Guha explains in his book, “Those who write contemporary history know that they are not addressing a passive reader of text placed in front of him. The reader is also a citizen, a critical citizen, with his own political and ideological preferences.”)