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Divided We GovernCoalition Politics in Modern India$
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Sanjay Ruparelia

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190264918

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190264918.001.0001

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Exercising National Power (September–December 1996)

Exercising National Power (September–December 1996)

(p.213) 9 Exercising National Power (September–December 1996)
Divided We Govern

Sanjay Ruparelia

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines various events in Centre-state relations that tested the pro-regional credentials of the United Front amidst growing tensions within its ranks. The coalition exploited national power for partisan ends, imposing President’s rule against rivals in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh and failing to ensure free assembly elections in Kashmir, weakening its claim to difference vis-à-vis the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Yet its pro-federal inclinations also encouraged partial efforts to engage insurgent groups, address longstanding grievances and promote economic development in the Northeast. More imaginatively, the United Front resolved a seemingly intractable dispute with Bangladesh, signing the Ganga Waters Accord. The latter exemplified the so-called Gujral doctrine, named after the foreign minister, which sought to promote better subcontinental relations by extending asymmetric concessions to India’s smaller neighbors. The coalition experienced setbacks. It failed to pass the so-called Women’s Bill, to reserve a third of all parliamentary seats to female candidates, as well as the Lok Pal bill, designed to investigate high political corruption. The Congress also elected a new leader, Sitaram Kesri, creating uncertainties for the minority government. Nonetheless, the United Front exhibited a more conciliatory, progressive and regionalized conception of the national interest.

Keywords:   President’s rule, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, regional, Ganga Waters Accord, Gujral doctrine, Women’s Bill, Lok Pal, national interest

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