Ever since the Emergency, the parties and personalities of the Janata experiment have been major and bit players in the electoral politics of India. Particularly so in the era of coalition politics in the 90s and the last decade. Here is a look at how they left their mark on elections and governments over the years:
1975-1977: Indira Gandhi imposes the state of Emergency in India, giving her near dictatorial powers. Opposition leaders Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai are imprisoned, along with many other activists. Opposition political parties comes together and the Janata Party is formed to fight the elections in 1977.
1977: Morarji Desai becomes Prime Minister, leading the Janata government — India’s first experiment in formation of a coalition government with the coming together of parties such as the Jana Sangh, Congress (Organisation), Congress for Democracy, Bharatiya Kranti Dal. The country sees a first non-Congress government at the Centre. The government collapses and Congress is back in power in 1980.
1984: Indira Gandhi is assassinated. Her son Rajiv Gandhi leads the Congress to victory, becoming India’s youngest Prime Minister.
1989: Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government is voted out of power following the Bofors scandal.
1989: The formation of the National Front government by V.P. Singh, who leaves the Congress Party in the wake of the Bofors scandal. Led by the Janata Dal, regional parties such as the Telugu Desam Party, the Assam Gana Parishad, the Akali Dal and the National Conference extend outside support in a bid to marginalise the Congress. This was the first coalition government of regional parties. V.P. Singh, followed by Chandrashekhar, are Prime Ministers in this government.
1990: Violence and protests against the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report which gave 27 per cent reservation to Other Backward Castes in government jobs.
November, 1990: the V.P. Singh government falls due to the withdrawal of outside support by the BJP. Chandrashekhar, who leaves Janata Dal with his supporters, becomes Prime Minister with the support of Congress. The Samajwadi Janata Party is formed.
1991: Congress withdraws support and elections are called. Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated during a campaign rally. After elections, a minority Congress government led by P.V. Narasimha Rao comes into power. Along with Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, the Rao government ushers in a series of liberalisation measures that open up the economy.
1992: Babri Masjid is demolished by kar sevaks.
1996: The BJP emerges as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha after general elections but is unable to prove majority on the floor of the House. A.B. Vajpayee’s 13-day government falls and the Congress supports a government formed by the JD along with other smaller regional parties. The United Front government comes to power led by H.D. Deve Gowda.
1997: Congress withdraws support and the Deve Gowda government falls. To avoid calling for elections again, the Congress agrees to support a United Front government under a new leader, I.K. Gujral. Gujral’s government is marked by the Fodder Scam in which then Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav is implicated. Mr. Yadav refuses to resign and is asked by the Prime Minister to do so. The tainted leader leaves the JD and forms his own party — the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Congress withdraws support to the United Front following their refusal to drop the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam from the government and elections are called.
1998: General Elections are held and no party gains a strong majority. The government, led by A.B. Vajpayee falls after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam withdraws support. Om Prakash Chautala forms the Indian National Lok Dal.
1999: The National Democratic Alliance coalition forms a government along with the Telugu Desam Party and lasts a full term of five years.
2003: The Janata Dal United (JD(U)) comes out of Samata Party created by George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar
2004: The Congress returns to power after eight years out of office, forming the UPA government, with external support from the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Kerala Congress and the Left Front.
2009 – 2014: The Third Front is launched against the economic policies of the Congress and the BJP, and committed to the cause of the agricultural, working, backward classes and women and minorities. Its members include, among others, the Janata Dal (United) and the Janata Dal (Secular), the Samajwadi Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the BSP, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The two terms of the UPA government are marked with a slew of rights based social sector legislations including the Right to Information, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Right to Education, the Land Acquisition Act, the Criminal Law Amendment Act on laws relating to sexual offences and the Food Security Act. However, the UPA government is beset by allegations of corruption among its senior leaders and this period marks the rise of the Anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare and the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party.
2014: The BJP sweeps to power with a majority of 336 seats, and as a single-party majority for the first time since 1984.
April 15, 2015: SP chief Mulayam Singh leads a new party formed after the merger of the Janata Parivar comprising the SP, the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (Secular), the Samajwadi Janata Party and the Indian National Lok Dal