Political parties jockey for power in India
Source says United Front open to Gowda replacement
April 12, 1997
Web posted at: 1:38 p.m. EDT (1738 GMT)
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- India's defeated coalition would
consider a replacement for Prime Minister H.D. Deve
Gowda in order to strike a political deal with the Congress
party, a close aide of a senior negotiator said Saturday.
"There is no other way," the aide, who did not want to be
identified, told Reuters as the decision-making Steering
Committee of the center-left United Front held a meeting
following Gowda's defeat in a confidence vote on Friday.
India's leaders and key political parties sought new
alliances Saturday as they worked to avoid a general election
following the collapse of Gowda's government.
India's Congress Party said it had no plans to seek power and
would support the defeated United Front coalition if it
replaced Gowda as leader.
The Congress Party made a similar pledge after the last
election when they agreed to support the United Front, but
not join the coalition. The Congress Party forced Gowda's
defeat in the confidence vote Friday, triggering the current
"If they come up with a new leader, we will support them,"
Congress Party spokesman Ved Prakash said. "We will not press
our claim to form the government."
Previously, the United Front had said repeatedly that the
coalition would stand by Gowda.
The United Front also said it would not support a new
government led by either the Congress Party or the Bharatiya
Janata Party. The BJP was the main opposition party to
United Front during its short-lived rule.
But the United Front and Congress Party leaders were
reportedly engaging in backroom talks to keep the BJP, with
162 seats the largest group in the 542-member lower house,
from making a bid for power.
President Shankar Dayal Sharma accepted Gowda's resignation
Friday after he lost a confidence vote in Parliament. Gowda
was asked to remain as head of a caretaker government.
Sharma must appoint someone to try to form a new coalition or
call for an election. In the last election, barely a year
ago, no party or bloc won a majority.
Among the front-runners to head the new government are G.K.
Moopanar and Chandrababu Naidu, both regional leaders from
southern India. The third choice is Inder Kumar Gujral, the
78-year-old foreign minister in the outgoing Cabinet.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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