Forty Years Ago: July 20, 1979
Govt By Weekend
While the Janata Partyremained sharply divided over the question of who should be its leader — Morarji Desai or Jagjivan Ram — the newly-formed alliance of the Congress and the Janata (S) claimed it would be able to form a government by the weekend. Repeated efforts were made by various sections of the Janata Party to persuade Desai to step down from the leadership of the party but he refused to yield. A three-man committee consisting of H M Patel, S S Bhandari, and Madhu Dandavate was at work most of the day looking for ways to get Desai to vacate the seat for Jagjivan Ram but to no avail. Desai is reported to have the the committee that it should first assess who has the majority support in the Parliamentary Party, he or Jagjivan Ram.
Congress and Janata (S) leaders, after a two-hour meeting this afternoon, agreed in principle to form a coalition government at the Centre. In a joint statement, the 12 leaders said: “We are confident that the country will soon have a stable government, of secular, democratic an d socialist unity backed by a solid parliamentary majority”. C Subramaniam of the Congress, at whose house the meeting was held, did not divulge who the leader of the coalition would be. He said: “The question of the leader of the group has not been gone into. In fact, no details were discussed except the need for a stable front,” he said.
There was hectic activity in th e Congress camp as Y B Chavan, Swaran Singh and several other Congress leaders talked with various parties and groups — the CPI, CPM, AIADMK, Ja n a ta (S) and others. But it was still not clear at the end of the day whether the Congress would be able to conquer the formidable arithmetic of forming a government in the three days that the President has given it.