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Read the passage and answer the questions below:

Indian democracy was never so close to a two-party system as it was during the 1977 elections. However, the next few years saw a complete change. Soon after its defeat, the Indian National Congress split into two groups……….. … … …The Janata party also went through major convulsions…..David Butler, Ashok Lahiri and Prannoy Roy. — Partha

(a) What made the party system in India look like a two-party system in 1977?
(b) Many more than two parties existed in 1977. Why then are the describing this period as close to a two-party system?
(c) What caused splits in Congress and the Janata parties?

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a. In 1977, India’s party system looked like a two-party system, one represented by the Congress party and the other the non-Congressian opposition parties who had come together to provide a political alternative to the nation and consolidated into the Janta Party.

b. In view of the crisis that surfaced in the pre-Emergency period like economic crisis, students’ protest and agitation, most of the major opposition parties had already come closer like the Jana Sangh, the Bhartiya Lok Dal, Congress (o) and the Socialist parties. During Emergency, leaders of opposition parties were arrested and detained. This gave them an opportunity to consolidate themselves to the form the Janta Party to collectively challenge the Congress’ rule and to ensure that non-Congress votes remain undivided.

c. Splits in the Congress can be attributed to the following:

i. Intense competition between Morarji desai and Indira Gandhi, where the former aspired to become the prime minister after Shastri’s death. Later, Morarji desai disapproved most of Mrs. Gandhi’s policies which later resulted in him leaving the government and the party.

ii. The growing differences between the syndicate faction and Mrs. Gandhi over the latter’s strategies and over the presidential elections in 1969 had formalised the split within the Congress and had sharpened divisions between Mrs. Gandhi and her opponents.

Split in the Janta Party can be attributed to the following:

a. The Janta Party that had come to power in 1977, was characterised by internal factionalism and competition among rival claimants for the post of prime minister.

b. Morarji desi, Jagjivan Ram, Charan singh competed against each other for the position of the Prime Minister. Though Morarji Desia became the PM, the infighting within the party continued. When Charan Singh’s party withdrew support, the Janata Party was reduced to a minority government.

c. Another government headed by Charan Singh was formed on the assurance of the support of the Congress party. But the Congress party later withdrew the support resulting in the fall of Charan Singh’s government resulting in the midterm elections in 1980.

d. From the very beginning, the Janata Party was basically a coalition of non-Congress leaders who targeted Mrs. Gandhi, her leadership style and ideologies. The party itself lacked common programme and ideology to lead the country.

e. The Janta Party also lacked a sense of direction and leadership. Fighting within the party proved to be disastrous for it, resulting in the split.

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