Forty Years Ago, July 27, 1979: New Prime Minister
Charan Singh will be India’s new Prime Minister. He has carried the day with 262 members, and the President has invited him to form the government which, Singh says, he will do in a day or so. The President has, however, asked him to seek a vote of confidence from the Lok Sabha “at the earliest possible opportunity, say, by the third week of August 1979.”
Charan Singh said that with the President’s invitation to him to form the government, “the ambition of my life has been fulfilled”. He told a big crowd of admirers, gathered at his house that every politician desired that he should either attain the office of a chief minister or a prime minister. “If a politician does not have such an ambition then he is lying,” he added.
Congress has now been hurled into Hamlet’s dilemma: To join or not to join — that is the question. Some Congress leaders think the party should participate, others think it should not. The MPs, too, are divided on the issue. Some MPs from the south are opposed to the idea of joining the government headed by Charan Singh: They think he is pro-Hindi and anti-Dalit. The people of the south do not know him at all. Many others are against participation in a government which will depend on Indira Gandhi.
Janata Party President, Chandra Shekhar, described President N Sanjeeva Reddy’s decision to ask Charan Singh to form the government as “an extraordinary one which tantamounts to putting premium on defections.” Talking to newsmen, he however said since the President had now exercised his discretion, it should be accepted gracefully. “Let us hope the new government would be able to give an administration with dignity and responsibility,” he added.