Inder K. Gujral (1997–98)

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Prime Minister Gujral continued in the office for over 11 months, including 3 months as caretaker Prime Minister. During this time, he attempted to improve relations with Pakistan.
 

One of the most controversial decisions of his government was recommendation of President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh, following unruly scenes in the state assembly on 21 October 1997. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Kalyan Singh sought vote of confidence when the violence and unruly scenes took place in the assembly. However President K.R. Narayanan refused to sign the recommendation and sent it back to the government for reconsideration. The Allahabad high Court also gave a decision against President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh.

In early November 1997, parts of interim report of Jain Commission inquiring into the conspiracy aspects of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were leaked to the press. Reportedly, the Jain Commission had indicted the political party, Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), for tacitly supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was responsible for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The DMK was part of the ruling coalition at the center and the Union Cabinet had ministers belonging to the DMK. The Congress Party first demanded the tabling of the report on the floor of the parliament. The report was tabled on 19 November 1997. When it was confirmed that the Jain Commission had in fact held the DMK responsible for supporting the LTTE, the Congress party demanded that the ministers belonging to the DMK be dropped. There was exchange of letters between Congress President Sitaram Kesri and Prime Minister Gujral. However, Gujral refused to budge. In a public function in Calcutta on 23 November 1997, he gave a hint of what was to follow saying ‘mid-term elections are around the corner’. The Congress Party finally withdrew support from his government on 28 November 1997. Gujral resigned following this withdrawal. As no alternative government could be formed, the only alternative was mid-term elections, as Gujral had foreseen.