Forty Years Ago, July 17, 1979: Charan stakes claim
The breakaway Janata Party (Secular), which has staked its claim to form a government, was busy till late night mobilising the support of various parties and small groups to form a coalition with dominant role for itself. The party leader, Charan Singh, who met the President in the morning to lodge his claim, held several rounds of discussions with his trusted lieutenants and leaders of other parties including the Congress, and erstwhile socialists and other blocs. The possibilities of Congress collaboration with the Secular Janata coalition were discussed at a meeting between representatives of the two sides. According to a Secular Janata leader, the talks were of exploratory nature and further meetings were expected before the coalition move concretised.
Despite hectic activity in the Capital, the political crisis gripping the nation continued to remain unresolved. President N Sanjiva Reddy began weighing the rival claims of contenders for power, but no clear candidate for the prime ministership has emerged. With Jagjivan Ram having been outmaneuvered by Morarji Desai, who is holding on to the leadership of the Janata Party in Parliament, Charan Singh claimed the right to be invited to form a coalition government with the help of the Congress and an assortment of small political groups that have surprisingly gained in bargaining power at the Centre.
Jagjivan Ram reportedly sent word to Y B Chavan that he would like to join the Congress. A senior Congress leader said he would be welcome. Answering newsmen’s questions, Swaran Singh, Congress president, said: “No contact has yet been established on behalf of Mr Jagjivan Ram with me. We will greatly welcome the return of all erstwhile Congressmen to the Congress fold.” He said Jagjivan Ram might have contacted some other leaders but he had no details.