India's minority coalition close to collapse
November 23, 1997
Web posted at: 11:34 a.m. EST (1634 GMT)
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- New elections appeared increasingly
likely in India on Sunday as the country's minority coalition
neared collapse in the wake of a report linking a government
party to terrorist activities.
The report accused the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party
of supporting the assassination of Congress party leader
Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
The DMK, which rules the southern state of Tamil Nadu, has
rejected involvement. The Indian authorities blamed Sri
Lanka's Tamil Tiger separatists for the assassination but the
Tamil Tigers did not accept responsibility for the murder,
which was carried out by a suicide bomber.
In the wake of the report, the Congress party -- which has
dominated Indian politics for the most part since India's
independence from Britain in 1947 -- demanded that the DMK be
ousted from the coalition government.
However, Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral rejected the
demand, raising the possibility that Congress, which keeps
the minority coalition in power, might withdraw its support
and trigger the collapse of Gujral's government.
"The election is 'round the corner," Gujral said on Saturday.
The coalition already suffered a near-collapse in April, when
Congress withdrew its support and renewed it only after the
coalition replaced then-Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda with
United Front leaders were quoted as saying that the Congress
party was deliberately raising the stakes for possible new
elections because Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv's Italian-born widow,
had signaled in part a willingness to campaign in case of a
However, some observers said public enthusiasm for new
elections -- which would come three years early -- was
New Delhi Bureau Chief Anita Pratap and Reuters contributed to this report.