INDIA: Lust for Office?

A precarious coalition

It was an Indian version of political poker. When President N. Sanjiva Reddy last week summoned caretaker Prime Minister Morarji Desai, 83, and his chief challenger, Charan Singh, 76, to his official residence in New Delhi, the two rivals presented lists totaling an identical number. Each claimed to have 279 supporters in the Lok Sabha (lower house), nine more than necessary to form a majority government. Even as Reddy scrutinized the conflicting claims, members of Parliament were changing allegiances behind the scene. In the end, the President chose Singh, the leader of 10 million Jats (farmers) from northern...

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