BJP called to form new Indian government
March 15, 1998
Web posted at: 11:18 a.m. EST (1618 GMT)
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- After days of political uncertainty, India's
President K.R. Narayanan Sunday invited the
Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate
Atal Behari Vajpayee to form the next
The president's decision to call on the BJP to try to form
the next government came after Sonia Gandhi -- the widow of
assassinated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and new head of the
Congress party -- told the president that her party did not
have the numbers to form the next government.
The president's decision ended days of intense
political negotiations by the BJP and the Congress to secure support from smaller
parties in order to build a workable parliamentary majority
to guarantee a stable government.
The BJP, a key rival of Congress, had won the most seats in
the February-March parliamentary elections but fell short of
an absolute majority.
On Saturday, the BJP won support from the Tamil
Nadu-based All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK),
which delivered the backing of 27 lawmakers it commands.
This had put the BJP alliance just eight seats short of a
The AIADMK gave its support after it raised a string
of tough demands on behalf of the southern Tamil Nadu state.
The demands reportedly included more water for Tamil Nadu
from the disputed Cauvery River, a higher quota for low
castes in government jobs and an enhanced official status for
the Tamil language.