Forty years ago, January 9, 1980: An Indira Victory
Indira Gandhi’s party further improved on the massive majority it has already achieved in the elections to the seventh Lok Sabha. With the results of 47 seats yet to come in, the Congress (I) needed 28 seats more to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary for pushing through important constitutional amendments. The Congress (I) would have crossed the 362 mark — which gives it a majority — during the day, but for the stiff resistance it met from the Left Front in West Bengal and from the Lok Dal in several constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and the Janata in some seats in Bihar.
Regional parties have taken a big knock in this election. Since 1967, they have been a regular feature. The AIADMK in Tamil Nadu had 18 seats in the Lok Sabha; this time its count is only two. The DMK has won 16 but did not present itself as a regional party; it rode the bandwagon of Indira Gandhi. The Akalis in Punjab had nine seats in the 1977 election but has won only one this time. The Karnataka Congress of Devaraj Urs, which merged with the Congress later, has none compared to 10 last time. Biju Patnaik’s strength of 11 from Orissa in the Lok Sabha after his parting with the Janata has been reduced to one. This means that the people have risen above regional considerations and have preferred an all-India party so that there could be a strong Centre, without which, they believe, there can be no stability.
Assam Restive Again
The spectre of linguism haunts Assam. The frontier state has had three language riots since Independence — one in the early Fifties, another at the outset of Sixties and the third in the beginning of Seventies — and several skirmishes at regular intervals. A series of clashes, both in upper and lower Assam, during the last few days are now threatening to plunge the state into the vortex of a fourth major language conflict.