India reverses move to dissolve state's government
Local political dispute has national reach
October 22, 1997
Web posted at: 12:57 p.m. EDT (1657 GMT)
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- The government of India backed down Wednesday, deciding not to dissolve the local Hindu nationalist-led government in Uttar Pradesh state. The action follows political friction in the northern state that led to a shoe, chair and microphone-throwing brawl on Tuesday.
On Wednesday the Cabinet of Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral held an emergency meeting after being asked to reconsider its overnight decision to dismiss the local Hindu nationalist-led government in Uttar Pradesh state.
President K.R. Narayanan, who made the request, questioned whether conditions in the northern state had deteriorated to the point where federal rule was required in the region
regarded as India's political heartland.
After hours of deliberation, the Cabinet reversed itself and said it would not seek to dissolve the government in Uttar Pradesh.
The decision sinks Gujral's fragile coalition government deeper into political turmoil as his left-center supporters and the right-wing Hindu opposition fight over power, analysts said.
In previous administrations, the central government has taken over the administration of the states of Punjab, Kashmir and even Uttar Pradesh. Normally, such a move is justified if the
state is mired in violence or corruption, or is unable to
form a stable government.
The Cabinet's decision to seek federal rule in Uttar Pradesh,
India's most populous state, followed fighting in the
provincial capital of Lucknow, where lawmakers on Tuesday
hurled abuses -- and anything they could grab -- at one another.
The brawl, which left 45 people hurt, occurred just before
the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian
People's Party) survived a confidence vote. Rivals of the BJP
walked out, accusing BJP members of starting the violence.
The Hindu nationalists, the largest group in the Indian
parliament, threatened to go to court if the Uttar Pradesh
assembly were replaced by federal rule.
Political analysts said events in the state, which accounts
for a maximum 85 seats in the 545-seat national parliament,
could influence alliances and eventually the composition of
Gujral's center-left government.
The prime minister's shaky minority coalition was formed to
keep the BJP from assuming control of the federal
Cabinet ministers, believing Tuesday's confidence vote in
Uttar Pradesh was won fraudulently by the BJP, sought to
impose federal rule before reversing themselves.
Under India's constitution, the president, whose role is
mostly ceremonial, must implement the Cabinet's final
recommendation, and can ask the ministers to reconsider only
New Delhi Bureau Chief Anita Pratap and Reuters contributed to this report.