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The Indian National Congress Party after the dynasty Nikolenyi, Csaba 1994

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THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS PARTY AFTER THE DYNASTY by CSABA NIKOLENYI B.A., Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Political Science) We accept this thesis as conforming "to the requj,xg^ standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1994 (c) Csaba Nikolenyi, 1994 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. (Signature) Department of ?o(Vfl"c^l ^C.i<i-^C^ The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date S^^t^kf !^,l^^h 1 1 ABSTRACT Rajiv Gandhi's violent death in May 1991 signalled the end of an entire era for the Congress Party: the long-lasting rule of the dynasty was over. Subsequent developments in the party have raised the question of change versus continuity. Has the end of the dynasty led to the birth of a new Congress, or will the dynastic party structures and organizational features continue into the post-Gandhi period? The argument that I will be advancing throughout the thesis is that structural continuity has characterized the organizational order of the party in its post-dynastic period. The most obvious indicators of this continuity are that the party continues to be a deinstitutionalized, loosely structured coglomerate of political bosses with varying bases of support; the party remains paralyzed by factionalism at all levels, yet it escapes splits and schisms; and the Congress Prime Minister continues to be at the apex of the decision-making pyramid. The important question for political scientists to answer is why continuity has taken precedence over drastic change. I shall maintain that structural continuity in the party's organizational order has come about primarily as a result of environmental pressures exerted by the turbulence in the party system that was undergoing a fundamental transformation. The Indian party system changed from a predominant into a more competitive one in the late Ill 1980s and early 1990s as the election results for 1989-91 period suggest. Under this environmental condition, it has been the requirement of organizational survival amidst external change that both necessitated and facilitated the continuation of the old order in the party. TABLE OF CONTENTS IV Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgement INTRODUCTION Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four A Theoretical-Conceptual Framework The Party And Its Environment The Internal Dynamics Of The Party Organization "The Party From Within" Synthesis: An Explanatory Model of Structural Continuity In The Post-Dynastic Indian National Congress Succession 1991 Lok Sabha Elections 1991 The Power Struggle In The Party After The Elections Narasimha Rao's Congress Establishing Control In The Legislative Arena Establishing Control Over The Party 1992-1993: Challenges To Rao's Rule Structural Continuity And The Indian National Congress Party The Organization And Its Environment Organizational Dynamics Sub-Party Dynamics Conclusion Bibliography Tables 11 iv V 1 7 7 15 21 27 29 39 44 49 53 62 69 78 78 88 97 100 103 107 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This work is dedicated to my dear wife, Andrea, without whose support, encouragement and sacrifice I would not have achieved even the little that I have in my life so far. I also want to extend my gratitude for my mentors in the field of Political Science who have all taught me a lot. I want to thank especially John Wood and Alan Siaroff at the University of British Columbia, who never failed to make suggestions and help me in the timely completion of this piece. Intellectually I owe a lot to Steven Wolinetz, my former instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who introduced me to the fascinating world of studying politics. INTRODUCTION Rajiv Gandhi's violent death during the campaign period of the tenth Indian general elections in May 1991 signalled the end of an entire era, both for Indian politics in general and for the Congress Party in particular: the long-lasting rule of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty was over. The party, however, managed to recover from the loss, survived the finding of a non-dynastic successor in Narasimha Rao and won the elections to return to government. The succession crisis, as well as subsequent developments in the ensuing three years, has raised the question of change versus continuity in the party. Has the end of the dynasty led to the birth of a new Congress, or will the dynastic party structures and organizational features continue into the post-Gandhi period? Whichever is the case, it is too early at this stage to offer any definite characterization of the post-Gandhi Congress Party. Rather, the task is to outline and explain the most likely trend of the party' s development in the future on the basis of the processes that have taken place since 1991. Political parties exist in an environment that structures their behaviour. Therefore, the inquiry into change versus continuity within a party as such cannot be conducted in isolation from certain environmental factors. Internal and external processes work simultaneously and exert their twin pressures on the organization. With this in mind, the parameters of the ensuing investigation will 2 incorporate internal organizational and external environmental factors. With regard to internal factors, the problem boils down to two salient issues. The first concerns factions within the party. Obviously, under the dynasty it was not just one person but a whole faction of his/her confidants or coterie that dominated the commanding posts of the party. The question was whether the balance of power would shift away from these power holders and if so why and in what directions. The second issue is that of institutionalization. During the Gandhi years, deinstitutionalization of the organizational structures of the party allowed the coterie and the dynasty to maintain their centralized personal rule. Local party structures were dismantled. Political chieftains with direct constituency support were oppressed and eliminated from the political competition. All party activity was directed from the centre by the dynastic inner circle. With regard to this problem, the question is whether the post-dynastic Congress is evolving towards a reinstitutionalization of its structures and what factors may account for such processes. In other words, the problem I shall investigate is if the organizational order of the party under Narasimha Rao's leadership continues to be characterized by the dynastic pattern of personalization and centralization of authority. Concerning the external environment, the most pronounced factor is the development of an increasingly competitive party system. The question that begs an answer is how and why competitiveness for Congress in the 3 changing environment requires either the dismantling or the continuation of the dynastic organizational order. The argument that I will be advancing throughout the thesis is that structural continuity has characterized the organization of the post-dynastic Indian National Congress(I) party. With the disappearance of the last dynastic successor, a process of routinization of the personal-, leader-centered organizational order maintained by the Gandhis seems to be taking place. In this context, to argue that the party has been undergoing a routinization of its dead leaders' charisma is not to say that Narasimha Rao's power emanates from receiving the Gandhis' mantle or from a claim to continue their ideals. Such processes of charismatic routinization have characterized Communist political parties. In the context of the Indian National Congress, by such routinization I refer to the fact that the rules of the game, that is, the ways of maintaining the power equilibria within the party's dominant coalition, have persisted even in spite of changes in the personnel of the ruling elite. In this perspective, a tentative model of the post-dynastic Congress Party would explain that once the institutional prerogatives of leadership in both the party and the government were vested in Rao, he became a power holder on his own and the rules of the game reequilibrated to the dynastic pattern. To mention but the most obvious indicators of this pattern: the party continues to be a deinstitutionalized, loosely structured conglomerate of political bosses with varying bases of support. As 4 a consequence, Congress continues to be paralysed by factionalism at all levels yet the party escapes splits and schisms, and the Congress Prime Minister continues to be at the apex of the decision-making pyramid of both the party and the government. The important question for political scientists to answer is why continuity has taken precedence over drastic change. To be sure, the dominant coalition could have been fundamentally altered by electing any of several powerful aspirants for leadership after the assassination. As I have noted, it was their resorting to a compromise that ultimately resulted in the maintenance of the status quo. In this regard, I maintain that structural continuity in the party's organizational order has come about primarily as a result of the pressure of external/environmental challenges. India's binary ninth and tenth general elections in 1989-1991, coupled with the assembly elections in the same period, proved to be critical both for Congress and the political system at large. These elections were a culmination and a confirmation of a long realignment process among the electorate which resulted in ending the predominant party system. Although it remains a major player in the party system, Congress has ultimately come to be relegated to being only one of several parties competing for government power with reasonable chances. Under this condition, a fundamental restructuring of the party's internal order resulting in at least a temporary organizational crisis would have stripped Congress of the possibility of success at the polls. As the evidence will reveal, it has indeed been the requirement of organizational 5 survival amidst this process of external change that both necessitated and facilitated the continuation of the old order. Of course, this is not to deny the harsh reality that Narasimha Rao's rulership has been hotly contested by alternative aspirants for leadership in the ranks of the party. The point is, however, that these challenges never exceeded the limit beyond which organizational demise would have been the only alternative left. Although aspiring leaders, whose advancement ambitions had previously been blocked by the leader-centered opportunity structure of the dynastic period, have experienced more political independence and broader opportunities under Rao, this was but a sign of the organization's adaptation to the changing environment. In fact, this became a noticeable trend as early as 1989 when "intraparty manouvering that followed the election indicate[d] that regional party chieftains . . . were able to display far more political independence than had been possible for such individuals before the humbling effects of the Ninth General Election".-^ The plan of the thesis is as follows. Chapter One will establish an analytical framework in order to provide a theoretical underpinning for subsequent analysis. This theoretical-conceptual framework will draw on several literatures offering theoretical perspectives on political party behaviour at various levels of analysis. The analytical framework will be followed in Chapters Two •^  Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, "Introduction: The Ninth General Election," in India Votes: Alliance Politics and Minority Governments in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections, eds. Harold Gould and Sumit Ganguly (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), p. 8. and Three by a presentation of the actual developments that confronted the Congress Party in 1991-93. A thorough account of minute political manoeuvres is impossible and unnecessary. Rather, my emphasis will be on deciphering the main patterns that have been evolving and on substantiating them with relevant data. Chapter Two deals with the process of leadership succession in 1991. I anticipate that the outcome of the succession process (who the winners and losers were, what their social-political bases were, etc. ) may suggest the new directions in which Congress politics is evolving. Since, however, succession in 1991 took place under the special constraints of the elections, I will have to separate the relevance of this circumstantial-situational factor from that of more structural ones. I shall do so by looking at the shifting power configurations in the party's dominant coalition since 1991 in Chapter Three. The primary method of presenting and interpreting the empirical data will be content analysis of Indian newspapers and periodicals available in the English language. According to my knowledge, secondary sources on the subject do not exist save for a couple of political biographies of Narasimha Rao that came out in the past three years. Therefore, responsibility for any misinterpretation of the events has to lie with me. The thesis will end by offering concluding remarks in Chapter Four on structural continuity in the Congress Party based on the evidence and theoretical perspectives presented. CHAPTER ONE: A THEORETICAL-CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK The following framework will bring together theoretical and conceptual considerations at three levels of analysis: the systemic level encapsulating the relationship between the party and its surrounding environment; the unit level which addresses the organizational dynamics of the party; and the sub-unit level dealing with the party's internal sub-groups such as factions. I will attempt to construct a theoretical base and a network of concepts that will help explain the determinants of structural continuity, or alternatively change, in the organizational order of a political party. In other words, the question that theories at each level seek to answer is what explains the internal behaviour of political parties. Speaking to the case of the Indian National Congress, this framework will offer explanatory insights into the reasons that facilitated continuity over drastic change in the organizational order of that party in the aftermath of the loss of its dynastic leadership. The Party and Its Environment The investigation of the relationship between a political party and its surrounding environment has to start with an appropriate conceptualization. Cooper and Maisel^ point out that attempts at conceptualizing and operationalizing this relationship have displayed "partial and differing ways" depending on what is treated as the independent or dependent variable. In the present study I am seeking to explain a particular behavioral process of a party which makes the organization the dependent variable. The environment as the independent variable consists of the larger society and the political system in a broad sense. However, the environment thus conceived surrounds all organizations. The political party is distinguished from other voluntary political associations by the competitive nature of the narrower environment that it operates in, that is the electoral arena and the party system. The broad environmental influences of the society and the polity are transmitted directly on to the party organization through the intervening variable of the party system. Assuming that the party system itself is sufficiently institutionalized, it is conceivable to limit the examination of the relationship between party and environment to the constraints and opportunities that the party system provides for the individual organization. A sociological observation on the interconnectedness between group behaviour and environment can be taken as the starting point for examining the relationships between a party and the party system. This observation postulates a positive correlation between ^ Joseph Cooper, Louis Maisel, "Problems and Trends in Party Research: An Overview," in Political Parties: Development and Decay, eds. Louise Maisel and Joseph Cooper (Beverly Hills: SAGE Publications, 1978), pp. 7-30. 9 external turbulence or uncertainty in the environment and internal cohesion in a group.^ Speaking specifically to the setting in which political parties operate, the theory can be extended to say that a party system with intense inter-party competition (ie. environmental uncertainty) would encourage internal cohesion and continuity within the organization itself. Conversely, a party system with weak partisan competition would foster intra-organizational incoherence, fissures and organizational change. The results of the empirical studies by Gatlin* and Crotty^ substantiate the former hypothesis. They examine, among others, the internal behaviour of political parties under the conditions of inter-party competition with various degrees of intensity in the United States. They find that an intensely competitive party system enhances and strengthens the internal organizational cohesion of the individual parties. Under conditions of environmental stress, so the argument goes, party members will reinforce their ties to the organization and hasten to maintain the internal status quo in order to reduce uncertainty and unpredictability bred by environmental turbulence.*^ The degree of the party's internal ^ See, for a classic formulation of this hypothesis, Robert Golombiewski, "A Taxonomic Approach to State Political Party Strength'" Western Political Quarterly (September 1958), 500-1. "* Douglas Gatlin, "Toward a Functionalist Theory of Political Parties: Inter-Party Competition in North Carolina," in Approaches to the Study of Party Orcranization, ed. William Crotty (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1968) pp. 217-246. ^ William Crotty, "The Party Organization and Its Activities, " in Crotty, ed., pp. 247-306. ^ Gatlin, p. 244. 10 organizational strength and cohesion is affirmed by such studies to be the positive function of the degree of competition that other parties are posing to it.'' Conversely, it has been suggested that lack of external threat will result in low degrees of internal cohesion and conformity in the party. This point has been eloquently made by numerous studies of weakly competitive party systems where competition rarely involves alteration in office by the competing parties. By conceptualizing one type of such a party system as a predominant party system, Sartori argues that it is "at the edge of the competitive area", where although alteration in government office by different parties is not ruled out, i.e. elections are contested, this rarely occurs.® He further claims that the "predominant party system is such to the extent that, and as long as, its major party is consistently supported by a winning majority (the absolute majority of seats) of the voters. It follows that a predominant party can cease, at any moment, to be predominant. When this happens, either the pattern is soon reestablished or the system changes its nature, i.e., ceases to be a predominant party system."^ The key term in Sartori's definition is consistency. When electoral support for the predominant party stops being a ' Crotty, p. 293. ® Giovanni Sartori, Parties and Party Systems: A Framework for Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), p. 200. ^ Sartori, p. 196. 11 consistent phenomenon, an electoral realignment takes place, and the party system undergoes a fundamental change posing environmental uncertainty to the organization. According to Sandquist^°, one has to pay attention to critical elections which measure and manifest such realignments in the party system. In sum, then, such a transformation in the environment is supposed to foster internal continuity in the party. Kothari^^ and Morris-Jones^^ have provided valuable insights into the interconnectedness of the predominant party system and internal fission in the dominant party in the Indian context. They argue that internal factionalism in the predominant party is essentially a substitute for inter-party competition. Thus, the opposition in such a party system takes on a special property in that it operates from within the predominant party itself: "the opposition parties neither alternate with Congress in the exercise of power, nor do they share power in any coalition form; rather ^° James Sandquist, Dynamics of the Party System (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institute, 1983). Realignment theory was first proposed and advocated as an accurate tool to explain party system change in the United States by V.O. Key. See: V.O. Key, "A Theory of Critical Elections," Journal of Politics 17 (February 1955), 3-18. •^•^ See the following works by Rajni Kothari, "The Congress 'System' in India," Asian Survey (December 1964), 1161-1173; "Continuity and Change in the Indian Party System," Asian Survey (November 1970), 937-948; and Politics in India (Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1970), pp. 152-223. ^^  W.H. Morris-Jones, "Dominance and Dissent: Their Inter-relations in the Indian Party System," in Politics Mainly Indian, ed. W.H. Morris-Jones (Madras: Orient Longman, 1978), pp. 213-33, and "The Indian Congress Party: A Dilemma of Dominance," in W. H. Morris-Jones, ed., pp. 233-63. 12 they operate by conversing with sections of Congress itself."^^ The Congress Party is posited in their models as the party of national consensus occupying most of the ideological spectrum. This by definition involves the incorporation of diverse political orientations and movements within the party's own ranks. In turn, the segments of the party of consensus which are placed on the margins of pressure end up having more in common with outside forces than with some of their own partymen. This permeability led to a pattern of constant entry into and exit from the dominant party by different splinter groups, but Congress remained in a dominant position which was becoming increasingly fragile and tenuous. Morris-Jones sums up the paradox of this system: in order to remain the dominant party Congress had to accommodate diverse interests, which however, fostered internal incoherence threatening the party's capacity to dominate.^* This argument on internal incoherence as the function of a lack of external threat is upheld by several studies on predominant party systems in other countries as well.^^ In a similar vein, Wellhofer and Hennessey relate the outcome of intra-party leadership conflicts to the party's success in the 13 Morris-Jones, "Dominance and Dissent," p. 218. " Ibid., p. 224. ^^  For examples of this literature, see, R.T Golombiewski, "A Taxonomic Approach,"; Ramashray Roy, "Dynamics of One-Party Dominance in an Indian State," Asian Survey 8 (July 1968), 533-75; Mary Carras, "Congress Factionalism in Maharashtra," Asian Survey 10 (May 1970) , 410-26; Paul Brass, Caste, Faction, and Party in Indian Politics, (New Delhi: Chanakya Press, 1984). 13 electoral arena. ^^ They find that successful performance at the polls is conducive to internal schisms. Internal conflicts in the organization arise, in the first place, because, they argue, parties go through successive stages of organizational maturation each of which creates a distinct opportunity structure favourable to specific kinds of leaders. Their model posits that with each successively higher stage of organizational development that the party is achieving, the level of leadership turnover will be lower but the level of its specificity will increase.^'' In other words, as the party develops, the pool of potential leaders will increasingly narrow down to include only a distinct group of leaders. This limits the opportunities for advancement for aspiring leaders whose leadership is based on factors that are incompatible with the requirements of the actual developmental stage of the organization. If this organizational constraint coincides with an expansion of opportunities in the electoral market, then a schism in the party can be expected to occur. During such a split those leaders will leave the party who are "drawn from leadership types which are 'out of phase' with organizational imperatives."^^ ^^ Spencer Wellhofer, Timothy Hennessey, "Political Party Development: Institutionalization, Leadership Recruitment, and Behaviour," American Journal of Political Science 18 (1974), 135-165. ^'' Turnover refers to "the rate of admission of new recruits to national party posts", specificity alludes to "the extent to which occupants of national party posts are a distinct group within the party, and is measured by the length of time they have been in the organization prior to achieving top level leadership posts." See Ibid., p. 140. 18 Wellhofer, Hennessey, p.145. 14 Intra-elite disputes, let alone schisms, in this model are explained by the conflict between organizational constraints (that is factors, which are responsible for making leadership turnover low and its specificity high) that hinder the advancement of certain types of ambitious leaders on the one hand and the environmental conditions which facilitate their success on the other. Thus, the contraction of opportunities following administrative expansion creates frustrations among ambitious aspirants who hold lower level leadership posts. These frustrations are further reinforced when the party increases its electoral resources. That is, electoral success raises expectations concerning opportunities for advancement, while at the same time constraints on advancement shatter such expectations and increase frustrations. This set of circumstances stimulates aspirants to use current ideological disputes the party as instruments to create schisms, and the resulting removal of established leaders increases their chances of achieving national posts. ^^ With all of the above in mind, I am maintaining that the nature of party system and the electoral arena which surrounded the Congress Party when it suffered the shock of Rajiv Gandhi's murder is an important variable to incorporate in the analysis. As I shall demonstrate, in terms of Sartori's definition, the party system was in the process of transforming from a predominant into a more competitive one, shown by the electoral results of the 1989-91 period. Amidst this environmental transformation from relative tranquillity into heightened uncertainty and competition, the above Wellhofer, Hennessey, p. 144 15 theories suggest that the party should display internal cohesion and maintain structural organizational continuity above all. An explanation for organizational continuity may therefore lie, partially at least, in environmental factors. The Internal Dynamics Of The Party Organization The second level of analysis covers the party itself as an organizational entity. It differs from the first level in that the analytical focus shifts from the impact of the environment on the organization directly onto the organizational dynamics and processes of the party itself. It can also be differentiated from subsequent lower levels of analysis which deal with sub-units of the organization and examine how the party gets articulated or disarticulated by these sub-entities. ^° In particular, I am going to address the organizational power paradigm at the unit level of analysis which is concerned with the concept and phenomenon of power and regards it as the quintessential driving force of the organizational dynamics of a political party. The theoretical framework of the organizational power tradition treats parties as tools in the hands of those who control them to guarantee, enhance and increase their social powers.^^ It explains '^° Sartori, Parties and Party Systems, p. 72. ^^ Angelo Panebianco, Political Parties: Orcranization and Power (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. xii. 16 the "functioning and activities of organizations above all in terms of alliances and struggles for power amongst the different actors that comprise them."^^ However, since this school is concerned with the organizational consequences of power broadly conceived (i.e. its bases, its distribution, methods of its acquisition), alternative views on what constitutes power itself have led to alternative views on what determines organizational conflicts. Michels' well-known "iron law of oligarchy"^^ pictures a party elite in complete isolation from the rank-and-file. The oligarchy tends to be void of internal schisms because their common goal to defend their leadership powers unites them against any possible attempt by the party workers to hold them accountable. Thus, Michels' view of party leadership rests on a coercive view of power wherein party rank-and-file and the oligarchy are detached permanently and have mutually exclusive interests. A model of political parties recently offered by Panebianco rests on a view of power as a medium of social exchange. Thus, in his model power is defined "as a relation of exchange, and therefore reciprocal, but in the sense that the exchange is more favourable for one of the parts involved. It is a relation of force, in that one is advantaged over the other, but where the one can, however, never totally be defenceless with respect to the ^^  Ibid. , p. xii . ^^  Robert Michels, Political Parties: A Sociolocfical Study of the Olicrarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (New York: Free Press, 1962) . 17 other."^^ This conception of power differs from that of Michels which primarily addresses vertical, i.e. leader-follower, relationships. The view of power as a relation of social exchange, however, is equally applicable to vertical as well as horizontal relationships. In Panebianco's model what decides in whose favour the balance of power will tip is the degree of control that the bargaining actors possess over "zones of organizational uncertainty". The principal such zones are competency or expertise, environmental relations, communication, formal rules, financing and recruitment.^^ These zones constitute the basic power resources that power contenders seek to control in order to dominate the organization or participate in its leadership. Panebianco calls this leadership a dominant coalition rather than an oligarchy, which suggests that different zones of organizational uncertainty tend to be controlled by different persons. The term dominant coalition is warranted because leaders monopolizing different zones are forced to negotiate among themselves in order to complement each other's bases of power rather than break the system down. Should the latter occur, members of the dominant coalition would lose whatever power they had attained because a claim to power on the basis of controlling zones of uncertainty vital to the *^ M.Crozier, E.Friedberg, L'Acteur et le Systeme: les Constraintes de 1'Action Collective (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1977), p. 59., cited in English in Panebianco, Political Parties, p. 22. 25 Panebianco, Political Parties, pp. 33-6. 18 organization makes sense only if there is an organization that actually depends on them. Panebianco examines the conformation of the dominant coalition through three aspects: cohesion, stability and map of organizational power. Cohesion refers to the degree of concentration/dispersion of control over zones of organizational uncertainty and therefore to vertical power negotiations, i.e. leader-follower relations; stability refers to horizontal power games, that are those among the elites; and finally, the map of organizational power refers to the configuration of power among the party's various organs, that is "on the control of which offices does the dominant coalition's power over the organization depend? "^ ^ Panebianco argues that it is the level of the organization's institutionalization that determines the type of conformation of the dominant coalition. Strong institutionalization leads to cohesive-stable coalitions because institutional parameters require the concentration of control over zones of uncertainty.^' Weak institutions, on the other hand, give rise to divided coalitions because such controls will be dispersed among several power contenders. Divided coalitions, in turn, may be either stable or 25 Panebianco, Political Parties, p. 173 '^^  Panebianco puts forth two parameters of institutionalization: autonomy and systemness. "The autonomy/dependence dimension refers to the organization's relation with the external environment." "The second dimension ..., the degree of systemicity, refers to the internal structural coherence of the organization." See, Panebianco, Political Parties, pp. 55-6. 19 unstable depending on whether there is a strong center in place, which, in spite of the lack of institutionalization, cements the power contenders together. Charismatic parties offer an exception deviating from this typology. In such parties a cohesive-stable dominant coalition is possible if the charismatic leader fulfils the function of a strong institution and unifies the different sub-groups . ^^ Panebianco cites De Gaulle's Union for the New Republic in France and Hitler's National Socialist Party in Germany as examples of such charismatic parties. Without doubt, the Indian National Congress under the Gandhis also fits into this category on the basis of the attributes stated above. Finally, the third aspect of the conformation of the dominant coalition, the map of organizational power, ^^ is also determined by the level of institutionalization. Panebianco argues that clear domination by either the internal organizational leaders or the parliamentarians of the party is possible only if the party is strongly institutionalized and has a cohesive-stable dominant coalition. Weak institutionalization, however, leads to a greater number of possibilities, because authority is more diffuse and dispersed. In cases of charismatic parties, the leader may be able to substitute functionally a strong institution but in such cases the parliamentary wing will by definition dominate the organization. Since the organization is deinstitutionalized it cannot offer the power resources which power contenders are 2^  Ibid. , p. 168. ^^  Panebianco, Political Parties, pp. 173-6. 20 seeking. On the basis of the aforementioned typologies, Panebianco offers a definition of structural-fundamental change in political parties.^" Change in this model indicates alterations in the conformation of the party's dominant coalition. The utility of the definition is that it distinguishes between changes in the personal composition and the structural conformation of the dominant coalition, which in this power-framework defines the party itself. Change in the dominant coalition's composition does not necessarily entail a change in its conformation. The latter happens only when a circulation of the power-holding elites takes place. Circulation of elites involves the takeover of the position of the old coalition by a new one with radically different rules of the game and, as a consequence, with a new type of coalition conformation. Alternatively, change in this elite's composition may be limited to amalgamation, in which case aspirant power contenders are granted entry into the coalition but its conformation and power equilibria remain unchanged in their fundamentals. This modelling of organizational change helps to focus the analytical inquiry of the ensuing study. To examine whether the shock that the Indian National Congress suffered when it lost its dynastic leadership led to structural internal change in the organization, I shall examine the conformation of the dominant coalition of the post-dynastic party and compare it to its dynastic predecessor. The question that has to be answered is whether the Ibid., pp. 243-50 21 old dominant coalition managed to handle the crisis and maintain its conformation or not. "The Party From Within"^^ An extensive theoretical literature has been produced by students of factionalism to explain what determines the structural dynamics of a political party at the sub-unit level. Most students of factionalism have addressed the structural and functional properties of the faction unit itself. The systemic study of factions, that is one which deals with the faction system, has also received scholarly attention. The classic conceptual insight into factionalism is provided by Rose.^^ He distinguishes between factions and tendencies as the units of intra-party political divisions. By faction he means a cohesive group within the host party which is self-consciously organized and has its own clearly identifiable pattern of authority structure. In other words, factions in his schema constitute a corporate form of political organization within a larger corporate entity, the host party. Tendencies, on the other hand, represent a set of attitudes around which party members coalesce from time to time. Tendencies have, therefore, no set membership, and make up a non-corporate form of ^^ The title of this subsection is borrowed from Sartori. See, Sartori, Parties and Party Systems, p. 71. ^^  Richard Rose, "Parties, Factions, and Tendencies in Britain," Political Studies 12 (February 1968), 37-42. 22 organization. Sartori^^ argues that Rose's faction versus tendency dichotomy is more useful if placed at opposite extremes of a continuum of intra-party divisions. He further identifies a set of other factors, besides the structural one, as important variables to include in studies on sub-party competition, such as attitude and motivation.^* On these fronts, one can differentiate between groups of principle and those of spoils-power, that is sheer selfish interest. This highlights a point crucial for the subsequent analysis. Sub-party units are similar to their parent organization in that they are political organizations pursuing some kind of a political goal, "which is expressed through the biased frame of reference of the group's values and interests, because political actors must legitimate their actions in the eyes of the public to which they appeal for support."^^ By definition, however, the goals of these sub-party units will be more particularistic and circumscribed than those of the host party. Change in the host party's structural conformation is expected when these value and interest orientations of a particular sub-unit take over those of the parent organization. The question that arises with regard to the problem of change versus continuity in the post-dynastic ^^  Sartori, Parties and Party Systems, p. 75 *^ Ibid. , pp. 76-82. 35 Myron Aronoff, "Fission and Fusion: The Politics of Factionalism in the Israeli Labor Parties," in Faction Politics: Political Parties and Factionalism in Comparative Perspective, eds. Frank Belloni, Dennis Heller (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, Inc., 1978), p. 113. 23 Congress Party is whether such a replacement has occurred in the party's value-, interest-, and authority structures? Nicholson^^ conceives of factional dynamics as the opposite extreme of party dynamics. He defines the factional system as a "political system (or subsystem) characterized by the informal competition of a plurality of amorphous segments (factions) operating within a cultural context which places a high value on diffuse and unrestrained personal power and led by an elite whose orientations are self-centered and instrumental."^'^ Thus, whereas the factional system stresses the primacy of personal success, the organizational dynamics of the party emphasizes the interest of all participants in maintaining the organization. As Nicholson further notes, the analytical focus in dealing with factional systems has to be placed on personal and individual linkages as opposed to organizational ones.'^ ^ A model of factional politics has to emphasize the factional leader's "own resources and his own intense political motivation to succeed in politics, [and that he] exploits relationships and obligations which apply to him as an individual rather than to any organization of which he is a part."^^ In addition, Nicholson argues in the Parsonian tradition that ^^  Norman Nicholson, "The Factional Model and the Study of Politics," Comparative Political Studies 5 (October 1972) , 291-314, and "Factionalism and Public Policy in India: The Vertical Dimension" in Belloni, Beller, eds., pp. 161-192. ^'^ Nicholson, "The Factional Model and the Study of Politics," p. 292. '^ Ibid. , p. 297 ^^  Nicholson, "Factionalism and Public Policy," p. 163. 24 the impact of factionalism alters under the impact of socio-political scale. As one moves to higher and more complex levels in the social and political hierarchy, the value structures and the environmental circumstances which condition factionalism become more generalized and differentiated. This means that for factional contenders to succeed it becomes mandatory to overcome the essence of pure factional politicking, personalism that is, and "deal in a more generally acceptable currency."*° Nicholson offers an application of this model to the Indian setting. He finds his theory substantiated by the empirical evidence from India where the factional system displays a hierarchically ordered structure. Since those who occupy posts at higher levels have a broader sphere of authority and have to respond to more differentiated demands arising from a wide variety of environmental sources, the personal aspects of factionalism decline as one moves from the local up to the national level of politics. The impact of scale requires factional leaders entering the national level of the power structure to go beyond the strategy of a "narrow calculus of factional coalition-building"^^ affordable at lower levels. Thus, whereas Brass^^ and Weiner*^ found unbridled personal factionalism to be the essence of politics at " Ibid., p. 162. *^  Nicholson, "Factionalism and Public Policy," p. 177. *^  Paul Brass, Factional Politics in an Indian State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965), especially chapters 2 and 3. *2 Myron Weiner, Party Building in a New Nation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967). 25 the state and the district levels in India respectively, Nicholson argues that factional politics is more constrained at the national level. The impact of scale on factionalism offers an explanation for a factional leader's success or failure to advance to higher levels. Those who become identified exclusively with any particular constituency, be it a state or a caste or a religion etc., will find it hard to succeed at the national level of Indian politics. National leaders are by definition responsible to a broad constituency which is incompatible with a factional leader's need to hold onto his or her narrow factional support base.** Paradoxically, this model implies that too much local sway and popularity may become counterproductive and hinder the aspirant leader's chances for advancement at the national level. Nicholson further notes that no faction exists in overt opposition to the Congress Party leader-Prime Minister at the all-India level. Opposition is manifest in attacking members of the leader's coterie but not the leader. Unlike factional leaders, the Congress Prime Minister commands the institutional power of the popular support vested in the ruling party which cannot be challenged by personal ambition.*^ Therefore, although intense factional strife may surround the selection of a Congress Party leader-Prime Minister in India, the leader-elect will thereafter enjoy the institutional power of the position which no one will ** Nicholson, "Factionalism and Public Policy," p. 185 "^ Ibid. , pp. 182-5. 26 dare to challenge. This point is justified by the case studies of national leadership succession in the Congress Party conducted by Brecher.*^ He finds that no matter how powerful the persons contending for leadership may be in their respective constituencies, the choice of the party's president-elect and Prime Minister will not necessarily reflect the distribution of these power capabilities. Unless there is a readily available candidate with undisputed national leadership potential and capacity, succession will result in elevating a person to leadership whose political credentials do not identify him or her exclusively with any one sub-party constituency. Brecher hypothesizes that one explanation for this may be the realization on the part of the competitors that party goals have to supersede personal ambitions at that stage.*' Bachman similarly contrasts personal-factional dynamics with organizational-systemic ones in the context of leadership succession in China. He finds that leadership succession is conditioned by three structural-fundamental forces at work.*® These are: the imperative of maintaining system stability and unity; that choice and succession be decided within a narrow elite to keep the process more manageable; and finally, that only limited costs be *® Michael Brecher, Succession in India: A Study in Decision-Making- (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), and "Succession in India 1967: The Routinization of Political Change," Asian Survey (July 1967), pp. 423-43. *'' Brecher, "Succession in India 1967," p. 443. *® David Bachman, "The Limits on Leadership in China," Asian Survey 32 (November 1992), pp.1052-3. 27 imposed on losers in the struggle, since doing otherwise would run counter to the first two requisites. Synthesis: An Explanatory Model Of Structural Continuity In The Post-Dynastic Indian National Congress On the basis of the aforementioned theoretical orientations a working model can be established for examining the process by which the Congress Party of India adjusted to the loss of its personalist dynastic leadership. This model recognizes the significance of factors at three levels: the environment provided by the political party system, the organizational dynamics of the party, and factional-personal motivations. The dynastic Congress Party was characterized by an absence of an institutionalized organization that would lay down structures and processes to guide the organization's behaviour. What bonded the party together was the goals and ambitions of the dynastic centre. This pattern, however, physically ended when Rajiv Gandhi, the last successor, was assassinated. The alternatives confronting the party were fundamental reform of the party's organizational order on the one hand, or continuity of the dynastic patterns on the other. The environmental uncertainty afforded by the transformation of the party system at the national level into a more competitive one in the late 1980s provided the environmental-systemic constraint inhibiting drastic reforms and changes. The electoral resources 28 that aspiring leaders could have exploited to their own benefit were shrinking rather than expanding. On the basis of Wellhofer's and Hennessey's insights, this should, as it in fact did, foster the maintenance of the status quo. Thus, the fervescence in the party system definitely contributed to structural continuity of the Congress Party. On the inside, the assassination opened up a channel for ambitious leaders in the party to openly contest leadership at the top level. The contestants were those who controlled resources vital to the organization. In Panebianco's terms, the dominant coalition entered a process of bargaining among powerful figures who controlled zones of organizational uncertainty. I argue that the crisis the party was coping with did not produce a change in the conformation of the party's dominant coalition. Factional dynamics, such as those emanating from the impact of scale, conditioned and limited the efforts of those who aspired to wrest leadership at the top. The twin pressures of these internal and external factors led to the continuation of the organizational order that had characterized the party under the dynasty. 29 CHAPTER TWO: SUCCESSION 1991 Rajiv Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress(I) and the party's prime ministerial candidate, was assassinated on the campaign trail during the second round of the tenth general election at Sriperambadur (Tamil Nadu) on May 21, 1991. The elections were critical for Congress(I) as the party was seeking to return to government after the years of the second Janata interlude. In this context, the loss of the leader set certain constraints that continued to structure the ensuing power struggle for leadership succession within the top echelons of the party. First, it was essential for the party that an alternative standard-bearer be found who would preserve the image of party unity and lead the party through the campaign. The electoral strategy of Congress (I) which was geared to muster Congress (I) votes by rallying around the charismatic populist leader was badly damaged and a quick temporary recovery was imperative. Second, however, the assassination also created the possibility for a wave of sympathy voting among the electorate, similar to the scenario following Mrs. Gandhi's death in 1984. This was an opportunity the party could not afford to let pass. The long-term implication of the succession crisis, however, was who, i.e. what persons, groups, factions or strata would gain, retain or lose control in the party's internal power structure. Throughout the Gandhi years, two kinds of camps of power holders could be found in the party. On the one side was the coterie, an 30 inner circle of the Gandhi family's confidants. These loyalists derived their authority from controlling access to the Gandhi household in the dynastic period. Members of this elite tended to hold appointed rather than elected offices in accordance with their dependence on the trust and goodwill of the leader. Understandably, the personal composition of the coterie changed from time to time according to the changing needs of the dynasty. Eye to eye with the coterie was the camp of real popular politicians, political bosses whose authority derived from their own local or institutional power bases. During the Gandhi era, as discussed above, the advancement ambitions of this pool of power brokers represented the uttermost threat to the party High Command. As opposed to the coterie elite, these politicians tended to command significant electoral support thanks to their popular support bases which were an indispensable source of vote-getting for the party. The series of confrontations between the two sides and within each one started the day following Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, with the convening of an emergency meeting of the Congress(I) Working Committee (CWC), the party's executive organ. Under the pressure and influence of the coterie the meeting, chaired by senior partyman Narasimha Rao, unanimously resolved to nominate Rajiv's widow, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi as Party President to lead the party in the elections. It is worth noting that the CWC as it met was without any legitimate and party-constitutional standing because its prescribed composition was altered by the presence of 31 unqualified coterie members. The Committee did not seek Sonia Gandhi's consent to her nomination. The reasoning was both that she should comply with the Committee's decisions as a party member and that she was the only person who could conceivably boost the party's image of unity and continuity in a time of apparent • • 4 Q crisis. Although the Gandhi loyalists were united in their general interest in seeing the dynasty continue, the group did not represent a homogeneous front. For Congressmen such as Satish Sharma, Vincent George, and Makhan Lai Fotedar, whose sheer political existence was due to the dispensation of paternalistic rewards by the dynastic centre, the continuation of the family represented the only chance for political survival. In other words, since they lacked sources of power other than access to the Gandhis, it was a matter of life-and-death for them to maintain the dynasty so that they retained their clout and spheres of influence .^° Other Congressmen perceived that they could gain more political capital outside of the shadow of the dynasty in the obvious absence of a formidable commanding heir. Such a former loyalist was Arjun Singh, the man who submitted the formal motion of Sonia's nomination at the CWC meeting. Singh differed from most of the coterie in that his power derived from his own bases of support as *5 Times of India. 1991 05 23, p.l. °^ Prabhu Chawla, "Succession Shenanigans," India Today, June 15, 1991, pp.46-7. 32 well as appointments and rewards granted by the Gandhis. His authority emanated from his smart combination of having established a solid local support base as Chief Minister in his home state of Madhya Pradesh with recruiting political allies in central politics while being Congress(I) Vice-President, governor of Punjab and holder of several cabinet portfolios. ^^ Furthermore, he commanded great popularity among the lower classes, the Other Backward Castes and Muslims both within and without his immediate home turf in the North. His main political liability was that he was virtually unknown in the South, from where most of the party's votes in recent elections had come. In addition, he was also held liable for letting the party be defeated in the 1990 state elections in Madhya Pradesh by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Recently, his independent popularity won him Rajiv Gandhi's fear and jealousy and resulted in his fall from dynastic grace. However, despite the strained relationship between the Gandhis and Singh by the latter part of Rajiv's life, Singh supported Sonia's nomination in the hope of her eventual declination and lending of support to him. Thus he hoped he could rise to the top of the Congress(I) pyramid without being bound to the dynasty yet able to have the family' symbolically important support behind himself.^^ The only mild opposition to Sonia's nomination at the CWC meeting came from adversaries of the coterie who feared the ^^  Praveen Swami, "Power Player: Profile of the Politician," Frontline, July 30, 1993, pp.8-9. ^^  Chawla, "Succession Shenanigans," p.47. 33 continued power of the Gandhi loyalists. However, this group was divided between supporters of Maharashtra Chief Minister Sharad Pawar^^ and those of Uttar Pradesh Congress strongman N.D. Tiwari. This divided opposition could neither present an alternative to Sonia supported by a united coterie, nor delay the decision-making for fear it would ruin the party's electoral chances. They only complained that the decision should probably wait at least until the slain leader's cremation. Thus, the first stage of the succession struggle was won by the coterie in that it achieved a formally unanimous decision by the CWC to declare Sonia Gandhi as the next president of the Congress (I) Party. Given that the general national elections were only half-way completed, the anti-coterie group realized that the whole party would be damaged if it projected an image of disunity and failed to catch the wave of the sympathy vote expected to return the party to government. That damage, however, came all the same, although from a less anticipated source. Two days after her husband's death, on May 23, 1991, Sonia Gandhi declined the offer of party presidency and distanced herself completely from the rest of the succession ^^ Pawar was known to have an antagonistic relationship with the Gandhis and their coterie because they feared the independent local sway that Pawar commanded in his fiefdom. As a result, Pawar and his Maratha loyalists seceded from Congress in the early 1980s and founded "the Congress-S (for Socialist, though the letter could well have been for Sharad Pawar . . . ) , only to return later on to the parent Congress." See, Harry Blair, "Local Support Bases and the Ninth General Election in Bihar and Maharashtra," in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds., p. 54. 34 game.^* It was at that point that the demarcation lines among the alignments of power within the party became more entrenched. The two-sided struggle between the coterie and its opponents became one among a triad of power contenders. The three camps, each coalescing behind an individual, were made up of the supporters of Singh, Pawar, and Tiwari respectively. Recognizing that no time could be wasted under the constraints of the electoral timetable, the coterie swiftly resolved that Arjun Singh must become president and lead the party in the elections. Regardless of Singh's lukewarm attachment to the coterie, the Gandhi loyalists must have expected more in return for lending him their support than they would get from the acquisition of party leadership by either Pawar or Tiwari. ^^ As expected, both Pawar and Tiwari flatly rejected Singh's candidature. They feared that if Singh should become party president the coterie would retain its leverage of influence in Congress politics to their detriment. Pawar had a solid although regionally limited local power base in his home state of Maharashtra, of which he was also Chief Minister. In the 1989-90 state elections, when the BJP gained a strong foothold in all northern Hindi belt states, Pawar had mustered an impressive Congress victory in Maharashtra, thereby demonstrating his *^ For some of her reasons to decline the appointment, see, Chawla, "Succession Shenanigans," pp.47-8. ^^ For an excellent account and comparison of the power bases that these leadership aspirants commanded, see: Inderjit Badhwar, Zafar Agha, "Prime Ministerial Sweepstakes," India Today, June 30, 1991, pp.11-3. 35 indispensable political power to the party high command. He had also developed important connections with industrial and business leaders. His weaknesses were that he had virtually no following in the Hindi belt areas beyond his own home state, and his handicap as a national leader of the party due to his inability to communicate in either the Hindi or the English languages. Pawar was also the youngest of all the three main rivals, aged only 51 at the time, which suggested that he might go only to certain limits in the power struggle. He had to be careful to make compromises in order not to impair his chances to bid for leadership later should he fail this time around. Tiwari appeared to have a much broader power and support base than any of the main contestants. He was backed by the northern Brahmin lobby as well as by party leaders in Uttar Pradesh of which state he had been Chief Minister four times. His main source of sway emanated from his supposed ability to deliver a substantial number of seats from the "cow belt" states of U.P. and Bihar, which were important states for the party to capture. These two states alone accounted for more than one hundred seats in the 525 member Lok Sabha which were still pending in the second round of the elections. However, Tiwari also had significant liabilities. Like his rivals, he was not seen as a vote-getter in the South. Also, his power base in the North was increasingly threatened by the political advancement of non-Brahmin social groups, and the continued popularity of the BJP in U.P. Lastly, his record as Chief Minister lent him the aura of a potential vote-loser in his own 36 home state because Congress suffered major electoral setbacks in U.P., twice under his chief ministership in 1977 and 1989. An interesting paradox of the situation was therefore the presence of powerful leadership contenders from the North where the party's electoral hold had been weak and the absence of similarly powerful rivals from the South where the party had a stronger electoral base.^^ Given the deadlock situation among the three factions of power contenders it became clear that a compromise had to be struck.^ '' Pawar decided to propose Narasimha Rao, an old-time Gandhi loyalist now on the descending slope of his political career, as a stop-gap leader until the elections were over. It is worth noting that Rao's part in the succession process until this point had been limited to his CWC chairmanship. He neither indicated his availability as a candidate, nor did he associate himself with any of the warring factions. However, he enjoyed the stature of an established senior party men trained and skilled in both party and governmental affairs.^® Rao had climbed the party's institutional ladder from •^^  Prabhu Chawla, "Floundering for Directions," India Today, June 15, 1991, p.50. ^'' Unfortunately there is no account yet published about the 1991 succession process that would measure up to the thoroughly researched account of previous successions by Michael Brecher. Therefore, one has to resort to speculation in trying to explain the details of the most crucial momentum which brought Narasimha Rao to party presidency and look at only the clearly visible political machinations that took place. '^^ This section draws on the information contained in M.C. Shah, Consensus and Conciliation: P.V. Narasimha Rao (New Delhi: Shipra Publications, 1992), pp. 26-34. 37 being a state assembly delegate and Chief Minister of his home state of Andhra Pradesh to becoming General Secretary of the All-India Congress (I) Committee in 1974 when he was brought in the inner circle of Indira Gandhi's coterie. He was purged from this inner circle by Sanjay Gandhi in 1976 but was wooed back by Indira Gandhi after her son's death four years later. Meanwhile, Rao's local political base gradually eroded by the 1980s, and like other members of the coterie, he had to be parachuted into a safe constituency to secure a seat in the Lok Sabha. His dynastic connection granted him the important cabinet portfolios of Defense and later External Affairs. However, his fortunes within Rajiv Gandhi's coterie had seriously declined by 1988. He was no longer consulted on party matters and even foreign policy was run by Rajiv's new core of trusted followers despite Rao's holding that portfolio. Pawar's move to nominate Rao for party president was acceptable to Singh. He realized that this was an opportunity to force Tiwari, the bitterest of his enemies, into isolation should he fail to join in support of Rao's candidacy. Singh's animosity towards Tiwari was understandable: both leaders were aiming to establish themselves as the northern commander of the party, that is, they were both contesting for the same constituency support base. In this regard, as I have mentioned, Pawar was seen to be much more of a regional Maratha leader. Tiwari was indeed left with two alternatives: he either had to face a bloc of all Congressmen united behind a weak 38 candidate^^ or throw his weight behind Rao and concentrate on bidding for the Prime Ministership in case Congress (I) won the elections. Realizing that any further delay in resolving the leadership vacuum would damage the party in the elections, Tiwari bowed to support Rao as the party's president. On May 29, 1991 the party executive announced Narasimha Rao as president in a show of formal unanimity. Clearly, none of the factions perceived that they had anything to lose with Rao's becoming party president. In case Congress(I) lost the elections the blame could be shifted onto him without significantly damaging their own credentials. In case of electoral success, the Prime Ministership would still be up for grabs. As one observer noted, "... senior leaders who wanted to throw their hat in the ring for the leadership of the Congress Parliamentary Party, hoped that Narasimha Rao would be a willing subscriber to the 'one man one post' principle, according to which no one should hold an office both in the party and in the government."®" The most important factor that shaped the last phase of the succession game, the struggle for leadership of the Congress(I) Parliamentary Party, was the party's actual performance in the ^^  This situation was strikingly similar to that of the 1966 succession battle. A divided Syndicate emerged united behind a last-choice candidate, Indira Gandhi, forcing the main rival Morarji Desai to face the same alternatives Tiwari had to in 1991. Morarji lost the battle which might have served as an instructive lesson to Tiwari about the political dynamics of intra-party succession games. ®° Venkateswar Rao Adiraju, The Right Prime Minister: A Political Biography of P.V. Narasimha Rao (Hyderabad: See Satya Publications, 1993), p. 189. 39 tenth general election after its second round was completed. A second round was held in five crucial states: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and U.P. Obviously, vote-getting ability was regarded as the principal indicator of the strength of each faction in the party. Moreover, the number of parliamentarians each factional leader could control would be decisive in the battle for the parliamentary party leadership and ultimately the Prime Ministership. Therefore, whoever managed to muster more Lok Sabha seats for the party from his constituency was expected to dictate the terms of reiterating the post-dynastic power structure of the party. For now, a brief presentation of the outcomes of the tenth general elections will follow. Lok Sabha Elections 1991 The results of the election yielded only partial success to Congress(I). Although it gained enough seats to become the largest party in the Lok Sabha, the party had to face the uneasy task of forming a minority government. Owing to the effects of the single-member plurality electoral system as well as the division in the non-Congress(I) votes, the party managed to increase the number of its parliamentary seats despite a decline in its share of the popular vote compared to the 1989 election. In 1989, Congress(I) received 3 9.5% of the votes and secured 196 seats in the 543 member Lok Sabha. In 1991, the party's share of the total votes cast 40 dropped to 37.6% but translated into 227 seats out of 508 that were contested in the May-June rounds of the election that year.^^ The actual strength of the government party was, however, greater in terms of the number of seats controlled in the Parliament because of the contribution of Congress(I)'s ally parties. Members of the Congress(I) alliance included the AIADMK, the Kerala Congress, the Indian Union Muslim League, the Janata Dal(Gujarat) , and the Sikkim Sangram Parishad. These parties added 18 more seats in total to the Congress (I) bloc increasing its strength to 244 seats as opposed to the 126 of the Janata Dal (National Front) alliance and the 121 controlled by the BJP-Shiv Sena Alliance. Thus the Congress(I) bloc was still 10, and the party itself 28 seats short of a majority.^^ Analyses of the electoral results vary on the significance of the sympathy wave. Although Rajiv Gandhi's murder did not result in his party's electoral success to the extent that his mother's did in 1984, positive swings in favour of Congress(I) can still be discerned in the post-assassination phase of the voting. According to one source^^, the numerical value of this swing was as high as 9%. It suggests that if the elections had been decided in one round ^^  Robert Hardgrave, "Alliance Politics and Minority Government: India at the Polls, 1989 and 1991," in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds., p. 234. 2^ The Tenth Round: Story of Indian Elections 1991, ed., Arun Kumar (Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1991), pp. 41-2; and Paul Wallace, "India's 1991 Elections: Regional Factors in Haryana and Punjab," in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds., Table 17.1, p. 423. " "How India Voted," India Today, July 15, 1991, p. 35. For a scholarly analysis of the sympathy factor in the 1991 election, see, Hardgrave, "Alliance Politics,". 41 prior to the murder. Congress (I) would have ended up with about 190 seats, whereas a one-round election held in the aftermath of the tragedy would have let the party win approximately 265 constituencies. A contrasting argument^^ claims that sympathy simply could not matter: If there was sympathy, it was personal and private for the widow, Sonia Gandhi, and her children, Rahul and Priyanka. Any prospect of a politically relevant sympathy factor affecting voting in the subsequent two rounds was aborted the day after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination when Sonia Gandhi, unlike Rajiv on the day of his mother's death, turned down an instant offer by a rump of the Congress Working Committee to lead the party by succeeding Rajiv as party president. The choice on May 29 of P.V. Narasimharao as provisional president did not supply a leader to whom voters could extend their sympathy. ^^ According to the same author, the party benefitted from its leader's death not because of the voters' sympathy but because it put an end to a cleavage in Indian politics which had for a long time damaged Congress(I): the cleavage of "dynasty inspired anti-Congress ism" . In this argument, the party experienced a positive swing at the polls after Rajiv's death thanks to the fact that it was freed from the dynastic clout. The Congress without the dynasty was seen by many, according to Rudolph, as the party of the secular centre able to provide order and stability, scarce political resources which the political system of India badly needed. *^ Lloyd Rudolph, "Why Rajiv Gandhi's Death Saved the Congress: How an Event Affected the Outcome of the 1991 Election in India," in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds., pp. 436-54. 65 Ibid., pp. 438-9 42 Alternatively, the positive impact that the assassination had on the electoral performance of the Congress party can be explained by another factor. Similarly to the scenario of Mrs. Gandhi's murder in 1984, the assassination may well have invoked a widespread sense of uncertainty and insecurity among the electorate. Given its historical links with the country's past, the Congress party was then perceived by many as the only source of certainty in spite of the dropping popularity of its dynastic leadership. It is conceivable that the same applied in 1991 and helped the party again to take advantage of the violent loss of its leader. The results of the 1991 election confirmed the trend of the Congress(I) party's regional distribution of votes that had been displayed in the 1989 polling.''^  The party performed best in the South but was virtually routed in the large northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar once more. The four largest southern states, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, of which the first three had been ruled by Congress (I) with Tamil Nadu being controlled by the party's strongest ally the AIADMK, contributed more than one quarter of the party's total number of seats in the " Most of the data in this section are taken from Table 14.1 "Distribution of Seats in the Lok Sabha by Party and province in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections" in Harold Gould, "Mandal, Mandir, and Dalits: Melding Class with Ethnoreligious Conflict in India's Tenth General Election," in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds. , pp. 319-20. Also for an illustrative discussion of the outcomes of the 19 91 Indian general elections, see, "Swing Patterns," India Today, July 15, 1991, pp. 24-8. 43 Lok Sabha." The single greatest success story for Congress(I) in the tenth election, however, was Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar's domain. The party had ruled this state and won 28 Lok Sabha seats in 1989 against the BJP's 10. In 1991, Congress(I) increased its margin of dominance by mustering 37 seats while the BJP's Maharashtra contingent dropped to 5, half of what it had previously been. All in all, Maharashtra provided the highest number of Lok Sabha seats per state for the party. Arjun Singh's home state, Madhya Pradesh, fared no worse. The party successfully fought the advancement of the BJP in 1989 in this state as well. Contrary to the 1989 poll results which showed a Congress(I):BJP ratio of 8:27, by 1991 that differential had changed to 27:11. Although Congress (I) managed to pick up a few seats in the North^\ the party was devastated in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In Bihar, Congress(I) won 1 out of the total 54 seats available. In U.P., the drop in the number of seats the party won in 1989 and 1991, from 15 to 4 out of the total of 85, reflected accurately the decline in its share of the popular vote as well, which slid from 31,8% in 1989 to 19.9% in 1991. The Bihar results confirmed the entrenched sway of the National Front over the state, while in U.P. ^'^ The actual numbers of Congress (I) delegates from these states are: Andhra Pradesh 24, Karnataka 22, Kerala 13, and Tamil Nadu 28 plus 11 AIADMK candidates. ^^  For example, the party increased its number of seats in Rajasthan from 0 in 1989 to 13 in 1991, Similar improvement took place in Haryana where the party jumped from 4 to 9 seats, and in Madhya Pradesh where an increase from 8 to 27 seats took place. 44 the BJP advanced by wooing Congress(I)'s traditional support among the upper castes. A crucial factor to influence the outcomes in the North was the Muslim vote. Muslims, "tending to vote as a bloc in each state, voted strategically in support of that party most likely to defeat the BJP. In UP and Bihar, it was the Janata Dal; in Madhya Pradesh and other states, it was the Congress."®^ In other words, Congress(I)'s poor showing in the North could be partially explained by the fact that it missed out on the Muslim vote bank by failing to project itself as a credible opponent of the BJP. The Power Struggle In The Party After The Elections The immediate impact of the results of the election was the elimination of Tiwari and his faction from the pool of potential aspirants for leadership of the Congress(I) Parliamentary Party and the Prime Ministership. To recall, Tiwari's main bargaining asset was his supposed vote-getting ability in the Hindi-belt, particularly in U.P. His success in the power struggle was conditional on delivering a significant contingent of seats from his base constituency. Since he had already lost most of his influence at the organizational headquarters of the party following the Congress(I) electoral debacle in UP in 1989, mustering a substantial number of votes from the North was his only hope to Hardgrave, "Alliance Politics," p. 234. 45 recover this loss and bid for power. Unfortunately for Tiwari, however, most of his support was supposed to come from the Hindu upper castes of UP. The electorate in the North, however, had become polarized between Hindus and Muslims thanks to the BJP's far-right Hindu communal plank.'° This resulted in that party's picking up the Hindu vote almost unfragmented, including the upper castes that Tiwari depended on. Obviously, the Congress(I) old-timer was no vote-catcher among the Muslims. In other words, the electoral realignment caused by the BJP's invoking an ideological plank that seemed to solidify and entrench a communal cleavage in the North led to the ousting of Congress (I) from the region and consequently to Tiwari's demise. He again appeared to be a vote-loser in his own constituency. Paradoxically, he even lost his own district of Nainital by more than 11,000 votes.''•'• The number of rivals in the Congress(I) leadership struggle was thus reduced to the camps coalescing behind Pawar and Singh. The results of the elections were quite fortuitous for both. Both Pawar and Singh expected to capitalize on their delivering significant numbers of seats to the party and the rolling back of the BJP in their respective states. However, neither of them was in a position to decide the outcome of the leadership question in the parliamentary party. To succeed, both needed to make coalitions. Objectively, there were only two possible partners either camp °^ Dilip Awasthi, Zafar Agha, "The Parties: Treading Wearily," India Today, October 31, 1993, pp. 47-8. 71 The Tenth Round, p. 93. 46 could ally with. The first was the Gandhi coterie, because of its influence over members of parliament due to having knowledge of their backgrounds, "their financial connections, their psychology and their weaknesses" and because their support carried the symbolic impression of dynastic approval.''^ The second possible partner was the parliamentarians from the southern states who as a bloc made up the bulk of the party's contingent in the Lok Sabha. This phase of the succession process was also influenced, however, by the result of having recently chosen Rao as party president. This legacy translated into a realignment of factional loyalties. The coterie shifted its support from Arjun Singh to Rao who appeared to be easier to control. It must be noted that similarly to the contest for the party presidency, Rao never indicated his availability as a candidate. He was proposed by the coterie merely because they regarded him as a controllable weak person. That Rao did not have the slightest ambition to become Prime Minister on his own was further confirmed by his failure even to run in the elections, reportedly due to health problems. For Arjun Singh, loss of support by the coterie was the end of his participation in the game. He had no chance to muster support from southern parliamentarians, the other available coalition partners, because of his lack of any following in the southern Indian states. Realizing that he would neither be able to turn the Maharashtra MPs against either their patron Pawar or Rao'^ ,^ Singh •^2 Adiraju, p. 192 " Ibid., p. 190. 47 withdrew from the contest by announcing his support for Narasimha Rao, the weaker of the two alternatives. Pawar was thus left facing a coterie united behind Rao. To win he had to secure the support of his Maharashtra MPs and that of the southern delegates. With regard to the latter, he was assured by southern Chief Ministers that they would throw their lot behind him against any northern contender, i.e. Arjun Singh. Although Pawar was not a southern favourite son, his election to leadership would not have resulted in tipping the regional balance of power in the party in favour of the north either, simply because his immediate power base was by and large limited to Maharashtra. With Rao, a southerner, entering the picture, however, the southern support for Pawar quickly evaporated. Pawar's ultimate downfall proved to be the failure of his strategy to win the CPP(I) leadership. His faction argued that intra-party democracy required that members of the parliamentary party chose their own leader in the House through secret balloting rather than accepting a "consensus" imposed on it by the CWC, the party executive controlled by the coterie. However, this proposal that "was perceived as a black and white struggle by the Pawar camp --consensus versus elections-- had several grey areas in which politicians who were not necessarily pro-coterie", most notably Arjun Singh, "... joined hands in order to defeat the Pawar camp. "'^* '"' Zafar Agha, "Sharad Pawar: Tamed For The Moment," India Today, July 15, 1991, p. 16. 48 Seemingly conceding to Pawar's demand, the CWC appointed a two-member panel on June 19 to ascertain the views of all parliamentarians of the party and assess their opinions. The panel was headed by S. Shankar Ray of West Bengal and K. Karunakaran, the Chief Minister of Kerala, who had both joined the coterie-led pro-Rao camp by that time. It was clear that even MPs from Maharashtra would not stand up openly for Pawar under the close scrutiny of the coterie. For them it may well cost exclusion from the party's candidate list in the future which was compiled by the central party High Command, then still ruled by the Gandhi loyalists. In addition, the Kerala Chief Minister managed to rally his fellow southerners behind Rao as the favourite son of the region. Under these circumstances, in order to avoid complete humiliation and future political isolation, Pawar withdrew and announced his backing of Rao the following day at the CPP general meeting. On June 21, 19 91 Narasimha Rao was sworn in as Prime Minister. Exactly a month after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, the succession battle of 1991, perhaps the messiest in the party's history, ended. P.V. Narasimha Rao became the first Congress Prime Minister from the South of the country, and also the first one winning that post without holding a parliamentary seat. The constitution obliged him to win one within six months. In the interim period, Arjun Singh was named by the CWC to serve as majority House Leader. 49 CHAPTER THREE: NARASIMHA RAO'S CONGRESS PARTY As I have illustrated, the succession struggle in the Congress(I) Party in 1991 resulted in a compromise outcome which suggested that the issue of leadership was not effectively settled. Accordingly, the original compromise had to be continuously renegotiated among the rival power centres well after formal succession was over. Therefore, the power struggles that evolved in the aftermath reflected a process of constant bargaining among Congress(I) elites whose bases of support frequently shifted and fluctuated. However, the power equation that characterized Congress(I) in 1991 became more complicated by the conferment of the institutional powers of party presidency and Prime Ministership on Narasimha Rao. The following is the story of how he turned these powers into his own bandwagon to become a power contender in his own right and shape the power balance in the party. The time frame of the ensuing inquiry will extend until the end of 1993 when the model of Congress politics under Rao was put to an electoral test in the assembly elections of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as well as the Union Territory of Delhi. Upon assuming the leadership posts of both the party and government, Rao announced an overall reform package that was strikingly similar to the one proclaimed by the incoming Rajiv Gandhi in 1984-5. The main tenets of Rao's reform project were economic liberalization, the holding of Congress(I) organizational 50 elections (long overdue since 1972 when the last such polls were conducted in the party's ranks), and a consensual political policy in inter-party relations. These reform measures indeed contained the seeds of a thorough transformation of both the political system in general and Congress(I) politics in particular. The combined effects of possible success on these three dimensions would entail a new political process in the country. First, economic liberalization would require the mustering of political support behind an ideology which ran counter both to long-time Congress socialist pretensions, but also, more importantly, to the interests of power holders at different levels of the Congress party structure whose position had depended on extracting rents and distributing undue rewards and patronage easily afforded by the license-permit raj. Furthermore, the economic reform package had the potential to provide the party with a clearly identifiable ideological profile and could become a salient rallying point for the emergence of a new more cohesive and ideologically tight-knit Congress. This was increasingly becoming a political imperative for the party amidst the changes that were occurring in the party system. Its main opponents at the national level, the BJP and the Janata Dal, had both carved out and occupied their respective shares of the political space on the right and the left of the ideological spectrum respectively. In order to survive and remain a viable political entity at the national level. Congress had to take a well defined clear stand of its own. Last but not least, by placing economic reform at the top of the 51 government's agenda Rao was seeking to alleviate the polarizing and destabilizing effects that the ethnoreligious and communal cleavage aggressively exploited by the BJP created for national governance. Second, as Kohli'^ has noted, organizational elections would have a fundamental impact on the party. The most pervasive effect of such internal elections would be a drastic change in the party's dominant coalition. The authority of office holders would be legitimated by the popular mandate of the party's members. Such internal elections would definitely result in the ousting of the Gandhis' courtiers from the top echelons of the power structure, since they had been admitted there solely on the basis of personal loyalty. Organizational elections, in short, can reinstitutionalize the party and do away with the internal barriers that had constrained the due advancement of popular aspirant leaders during the dynastic period. With regard to consensual inter-party relations, Rao was keen on bringing together the opposition parties and Congress in order to hammer out resolutions for the burning political issues of the day, Mandal and Mandir. The terms Mandal and Mandir refer to the issues that the Janata Dal and the BJP were representing and riding on respectively.''^ The former refers to the Mandal Commission '^  Atul Kohli, Democracy and Discontent: India's Growincf Crisis of Governability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 346. '® For a brief summary of what Mandal and Mandir each entailed, see: Harold Gould, "Mandal, Mandir, and Dalits: Melding Class with Ethnoreligious Conflict in India's Tenth General Election," in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds., pp. 293-340. 52 report calling for affirmative action to help the social mobility of the lower and Backward castes. The most prominent advocate of implementing the recommendations of the report was the Janata Dal. Mandir, on the other hand, refers to the demand by Hindu fundamentalists of the BJP to remove Babri Masjid (Babar's Mosque) at Ayodhya and replace it with a temple celebrating Lord Ram's birthplace.''"' Rao's announced approach to conflict resolution based on consultation and consensus-seeking implied the end of the Gandhi dynasty's confrontational and often belligerent attitude towards the opposition. For all intents and purposes, this approach had potential for fostering political stability but at the risk of crippling and slowing down the decision-making process. It would be naive to believe that Rao decided on this reformist course because of personal drive or deep-seated ideological conviction. As the succession episode highlighted, the Congress(I) president-Prime Minister lacked both individual charisma and an independent base of power with which to initiate and execute such a fundamental transformation of India's troubled political-economic system and institutions. It makes more sense to argue that he simply had no other choice if he wanted to survive under the constraints imposed on him by both the intra-Congress(I) factional rivalry of powerful bosses and his party's minority government status in the Lok Sabha. Having no political asset to lose, Rao's reform package at least offered an opportunity to establish a base '^'^  More will be said about Ayodhya and the importance of the communal strife it gave birth to later in this chapter. 53 of power of his own. The pursuit of consensual politics would allow Rao to maintain Congress(I)'s hold on governmental power, however tenuous it might be, by consulting and cooperating with the opposition rather than elicit attacks that might bring his minority government down. In turn, mastering longevity for Congress(I) in government would establish his sway and influence among Congressmen, especially among the party's MPs. Organizational elections could contribute to his project of consolidation by institutionalizing and legitimating his power in the party's organizational ranks as well. Establishing Control In The Legislative Arena The night of his election as Congress(I) Parliamentary Party leader, Rao compiled the list of persons he wanted to include in his Council of Ministers. The Indian Council of Ministers consists of two strata of ministers: the cabinet ministers and their junior partners, the ministers of state.'^ ^ According to established parliamentary practice, there is a hierarchy of ministerial portfolios, the filling of which reflects both the actual distribution of power among the factions in the governing party and the interests of the Prime Minister with regard to his partisan •'^  For an excellent analysis of power relations in the Indian national cabinet, see, Richard Sisson, "Pathways to India's National Governing Elite," in Pathways to Power: Selecting Rulers in Pluralist Democracies, ed. , Mattel Dogan (Boulder; Westview Press, 1989), pp. 181-98. 54 colleagues. The composition of Rao's Council reflected both. The two big leaders, Singh and Pawar, were awarded cabinet portfolios but of lesser ranks.'^ ^ Pawar became minister of Defence, Arjun Singh that of Human Resources Development (HRD). Granting Defence to Pawar was a reflection of the necessity to provide a greater concession to the strongman of Maharashtra who displayed more clout than Singh during the succession struggle. The relegation of Singh to the HRD portfolio, however, suggested Rao's early intention to sideline the only leader who was conceivably able to muster support in the North in the wake of Tiwari's demise. Singh was the only person with a wide enough appeal in the North and the potential to regain the Muslim vote in UP which would make him an obvious Prime Ministerial heir-apparent. Should he succeed in making a popular inroad into the Hindi-belt electorate, Rao's southern base of support would be counterbalanced and overturned. For the same purpose, to strike a blow at the Madhya Pradesh strongman, Rao appointed Singh's local enemies, Madhav Rao Scindia and V.C. Shukla, to the cabinet. ®° Similarly, Rao was also keen on reducing Pawar's influence in the cabinet by making S.B. Chavan, the Maratha leader's personal factional opponent in Maharashtra, the Home Minister. The first test for Rao after the succession was provided by the •^^  Information on the composition of Rao's cabinet is obtained from Attar Chand, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao (New Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1991), Appendix XI, pp. 288-89. ^° Scindia was made Civil Aviation and Tourism minister, Shukla received the Water Resources portfolio. 55 November 15, 1991 by-elections that presented 16 Lok Sabha and 58 assembly seats in fourteen states for competition by the political parties. Rao had to use these elections to secure his legitimacy as Prime Minister and leader of the Congress(I) Parliamentary Party by running and becoming a MP. The same held true for Sharad Pawar so that he could assume his Defence portfolio because he had not contested the summer elections either. In addition, the dynastic factor also remained alive as long as there was a possibility that Sonia Gandhi would run for Amethi, the seat which was vacated due to her husband's assassination and regarded as the Family's private fiefdom. This set of factors presented Rao with a number of opportunities to establish his command and power. First, he tempered and checkmated the influence of the remaining Gandhi-loyalists^^ who had not quit rallying around the dynastic factor and pressuring Sonia to enter politics by running for Amethi. Narasimha Rao, however, circumvented their attempts by establishing direct contact with Sonia Gandhi and convincing her not to contest the Amethi seat. In order, however, not to alienate the Gandhi coterie Rao ensured the nomination of Satish Sharma, an old-time Rajiv confidant, as the Congress(I) candidate in Amethi as well as the inclusion of several members of the coterie in his power ^^  For discussions on Rao's dealings with the Gandhi coterie, see the following, Zafar Agha, B. Roy, "The Prime Minister: Substance Over Style," India Today, August 15, 1991, pp. 68-9; Inderjit Badhwar, Z. Agha, "The Sonia Factor," India Today, August 31, 1991, pp. 22-31; "Act of Maturity," India Today, November 15, 1991, p.5., and Zafar Agha, T. Tejpal, "Defusing the Opposition," India Today, February 29, 1992, pp. 32-4. 56 apparatus. Thus Rao managed both to rid this faction of their political raison d'etre by breaking the last link there was to their claim on dynastic continuity and to bind their allegiance to himself by giving them place in the new power structure. Second, any possible improvement in Congress(I)'s showing at the parliamentary polls would enhance Rao's prestige by reducing the 20 seat margin minority status of his party's government. In fact, Congress (I) managed to win 8 out of the 15 Lok Sabha constituencies that it contested. Rao's ability to steer his party closer to a majority in the Lok Sabha, coupled with a victory in his own Nandyal constituency in Andhra Pradesh with an unprecedented majority of votes against a BJP rival^^, made him no longer appear to be the compromise weakling he had been during the succession crisis.®^ Third, the assembly by-elections in UP held especially significant implications. In the wake of Tiwari's loss of face, intense factional infighting for the state party leadership beset the U.P. Congress(I) unit. As organizational elections were scheduled there in December, the results of the by-elections were regarded as indicators of the relative powers of these contending factions. The most aggressive contender was Arjun Singh who sought to expand his support base by trying to make inroads in UP. 2^ Adiraju, p. 224. ^^  For notes and comments on this see the editorial pieces and reports in India Today and Times of India for the period between the end of October to the end of the year 1991. 57 For Rao, the rise of a leader of Singh's calibre in the North was a serious challenge. Rao's power was premised on favouring the southern Congress(I) both because of the support he had received there during succession and because of the overwhelming presence of southern MPs in his caucus at the national level. The party president, however, displayed admirable political skills in the way he ensured that this power balance was not disturbed. First, he forced Arjun Singh to concentrate on reinforcing his follower base in Madhya Pradesh by openly supporting the political fortunes of his opponents, those of Shukla and Scindia in particular. This led to a heightening in the intensity of factional strife in Madhya Pradesh as the political resources that Singh's adversaries were assisted by Rao to gain enabled them to mount powerful challenges to the HRD minister's home base. In addition, Scindia himself also entered the race for controlling the U.P. Congress. He targeted the Muslim vote bank for support which was a direct challenge to Arjun Singh's support base.^* Adding to the constraints limiting Arjun Singh's chances of success, Rao refused to bow to pressures calling for the dismissal of Mahabir Prasad, leader of the U.P. state party unit, after the party's debacle in the election. Prasad was a coterie-bred politician who had been appointed to his post by the dynastic inner circle. Letting him stay in his office at least until the organizational elections were over meant that the coterie would maintain its sway in the U.P. Congress. This complex web of *^ Zafar Agha, "Heartland Hustle," India Today, September 15, 1991, pp. 18-9. 58 factional rivalry which Rao himself was creating provided at least a temporary check on Arjun Singh's attempts at making inroads in U.P. The actual results of the by-elections, however, merely confirmed the trend of the June elections. ^^ The party was devastated in the Hindi belt as it lost in all 17 assembly constituencies in UP to the BJP and all Lok Sabha seats except for Amethi. The fact that the party remained extinct in the major Hindi states of U.P. and Bihar left Rao in a comfortable position because no rival faction in the party could disturb the regional imbalance on which his ruling formula was based. After having established his own legitimate presence in the Lok Sabha and ensured the maintenance of the status quo in the intra-Congress(I) power structure following the by-elections, Rao's next step was to move aggressively towards establishing his authority in the parliamentary arena. He did so by engaging in a "defections game"^ *' and capitalizing on the disunity between and within each opposition party. There were also immediate reasons that urged him to muster defections. First, he had to improve on his government's minority standing by March 1992 when the debates on his ^^ For data and analyses of the Novemeber by-elections, see, "1991 By-Elections: Consolidation Moves," India Today, October 31, 1991, p. 22., Zafar Agha, "By-Elections: Congress(I) Scores," India Today, November 30, 1991, p. 31. ^^  The following discussion draws on the observations in Zafar Agha, Javed M. Ansari, "The Defections Game," India Today, January 31, 1992, pp. 14-9. 59 government's budget in the Lok Sabha were scheduled.^'' It was imperative for Rao to see the budget passed both because of the future success of the economic reform package and because it was also going to be a test of the parliamentary confidence his government could command. Second, the Presidential elections scheduled for July 1992 also required the attraction of defectors. For Congress(I) to see its candidate win the office, the party needed to woo 4 0 MPs and 10 0 MLAs as of late 1991 to control the electoral college made up of parliamentary and assembly representatives.^^ For Rao personally it was a must to ensure that his favoured candidate, S.D. Sharma, would win the Presidency. A subservient President provides the Prime Minister with a constitutionally guaranteed political sway as the examples of Mrs. Gandhi's manipulation of the Presidential power to declare Emergency and President's Rule had shown in the past. In addition, Sharma was an upper caste Hindu and came from Madhya Pradesh, Arjun Singh's home state. ^^ Having him elected would place a northerner into a high profile public office whose calibre, however, would not upset the regional imbalance in the party's power structure. At the same time, however, by supporting Sharma's candidature Rao could project himself as a leader who not only did not ignore the North but was able and willing to '^ Zafar Agha, J.M. Ansari, "The Defections Game," p.14. ®^ Ibid. , p. 14. ®^  M. Ansari, "Presidential Elections: Critical Countdown," India Today, May 15, 1992, pp. 46-7. 60 distribute rewards and offices there. Moreover, since Sharma came from Singh's home state yet was opposed by the Madhya Pradesh strongman as the party's official candidate, the issue became an open power struggle between Rao and Singh. Similarly to the scenario in 1969, the issue of presidential candidate nomination was a test of the power and followings that Congress (I) leaders commanded. Third, the "defectors' market"^" offered an opportunity for Rao to resolve the party's broader northern dilemma^^ in a way that would not endanger his own south-favouring ruling formula. The party could gain parliamentary representation from the North and U.P., without allowing the rise of a regional Congress leader to challenge Rao, by attracting defectors from other parties with regional following in the Hindi heartland. However, the cost of winning over defectors had to be affordable. The assets that Rao could gain by increasing Congress(I) votes in Parliament and creating a visible presence in U.P. for the party, however artificial they might seem, could well be offset by the liabilities he might incur. The dispensation of rewards and benefits to the defectors carried the potential of alienating Congress(I) workers in U.P. and other aspirants for power who would perceive themselves excluded from the power structure in favour of outsiders. ^° The term is borrowed from Morris-Jones. For an elaboration of the implications of the "defectors' market" for the Congress-system, see, W.H. Morris-Jones, "From Monopoly to Competition in India's Politics" in W. Morris-Jones, ed., pp. 155-6. ^^  Zafar Agha, J.M. Ansari, "The Defections Game," p. 19. 61 The actual outcome of the defections game yielded success to Rao on all three counts. The National Front had been impeded by intense factional infightings since the June 1991 elections which turned out to be a disaster for the bloc. The pro-Congress (I) leaning faction of the Front headed by Ajit Singh appeared to be an ideal target for Rao to woo because of the support that this group commanded in U.P. The problem of rewarding the defectors was resolved by the ultimate ousting of the Ajit Singh faction from the National Front. This gave Rao the upper hand. The expelled group was in no position to demand big rewards yet neither could they afford not supporting Congress(I) without facing extinction as a marginal splinter party. For Rao, it meant that he could enjoy the benefits of the defection he sought without entering compromises that might threaten a backlash in his own party. The Ajit group brought into Congress (I) a contingent of about 12 MPs from the Hindi areas and together with some other opposition MPs who braved voting against party discipline, the government managed to see the safe passage of the budget. With regard to the presidential elections, Rao skilfully exploited the unbridgeable enmity between the National Front and the BJP as well as the disagreement within the National Front combine on the issue of the candidacy. In order to win the necessary votes in the electoral college and get Sharma elected, Rao agreed with the left wing of the Front to support a Vice Presidential candidate of their liking in return for supporting Sharma's candidature. Rao's consolidation of power in the 62 legislative arena was completed on August 22, 1992 when he mastered the achievement of majority status not only for the Congress (I) bloc but also for his own party in the Lok Sabha. In the House whose size had swollen to 532 seats after conducting the by-elections and holding the elections in Punjab that had been postponed in June 1991, the Congress(I) party itself controlled 268 seats. Meanwhile, the total size of the Congress(I)-led alliance increased to 285.^^ Establishing Control Over The Party As I have mentioned, a major component of Rao's strategy to establish his leadership was his announcement to hold organizational elections. Although he has to be given appropriate credit for the actual implementation of this most important institutional reform in the party, a promise that Rajiv Gandhi had failed to honour before, it is worth remembering that he had no other choice. To match his powerful rivals in the party, Rao had to resort to some sort of institutional and structural transformation of Congress(I). Thus, the illusionary slogan of party reform only disguised Rao's die-hard attempts at wresting control over the party organization. From behind the celebrated facade of rejuvenating a deinstitutionalized, corrupt and coterie-ruled party ^^  Zafar Agha, "Narasimha Rao: Showing New Colours," India Today, September 15, 1992, p. 38. 63 structure, the contours of Rao's distinctive ruling formula started to loom large. This formula consisted of "suppressing the northern Congress (I), keeping the Pawar and Singh factions feuding, and relying on the southern Chief Ministers and party MPs for the favourite son power base".^^ The organizational elections consisted of a multi-tiered process in conformity with the party's pyramidal authority structure. To recite Kohli's observation, organizational elections favour those with a solid local base or bases of support and following because the outcomes at the lower tiers, such as the District Congress(I) Committees and Pradesh Congress (I) Committees, determine the numerical strength of the rival groupings at each successively higher level. The highest forum of the party is the All-India Congress(I) Committee which elects the Congress(I) president, 10 of the 21 Congress Working Committee members and 7 of the 15 Central Election Committee members. The rest of the membership of these latter two top party organs are nominated by the president.^'* The electoral process indeed displayed the advantage of popular power holders who commanded local following over appointed party officers who had derived their statuses from their past connections with the dynastic centre and its coterie. Arjun Singh and Sharad ^^  Inderjit Badhwar, Zafar Agha, "Narasimha Rao: Becoming A Liability," India Today, July 31, 1993, p. 22. *^ For an excellent diagrammatic illustration of this structure, see: Zafar Agha, Parveen Chopra, "Congress(I) Organizational Elections: Rumblings Within," India Today, January 15, 1992, p. 14. 64 Pawar, Rao's chief rivals at the centre, dominated the local elections in their respective strongholds, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Their candidates swept those of the rival factions composed of old-time Gandhi-loyalists. In the Hindi-belt, especially so in U.P., however, the party organization was in ruins. Fractionalization and lack of a regional commanding figure in the wake of Tiwari's demise left the Congress (I) units in total disarray. As an observer correctly noted: "Spoiled by years of living in the glory of the Gandhis' Camelot, the party units may take some time to cotton on to democratic ways"^^ in the region. The contest for the U.P. Pradesh Congress(I) Committee turned into mutual allegations of fraud among the rival groups, causing deadlock in the electoral process. This turned out to be a highly fortuitous state of affairs for Rao who capitalized on it by appointing directly his hand-picked men as PCC{I) presidents in all northern states except of course for Madhya Pradesh. By so doing, the Congress (I) president preempted Arjun Singh's attempts at expanding his sway in the North beyond Madhya Pradesh and ensured that no rival would emerge from the North to challenge his power. In addition, the uncontrollable fractionalization of the northern party units guaranteed that his appointed state party chiefs would remain constantly subject to local infighting to curb any possibility of gaining power on their own. ^^  Zafar Agha, "Back to Bossism," India Today, March 15, 1992, p. 27. 65 The local elections displayed another cornerstone of the "Rao formula", his reliance on the southern base. The electoral process offered an opportunity for dissident factions to contest the dictatorial rule of Congress(I) Chief Ministers in the three southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. ^^ For these bosses (K.Karunakaran; S.Bangarappa; and N.Janardhana Reddy respectively), it was of vital importance to ensure the victory of their surrogate candidates in order to retain their sway over the states and the party units despite growing dissent and unpopularity. Fraudulent electoral malpractices, for example, enroling bogus members in the party, in these states were the principal means to which the Chief Ministers and their circles resorted. Despite the mounting unpopularity that resulted, Rao did not intervene as he did in the North. The maintenance of the status quo in the South was of strategic importance for maintaining his rule. Were factional rebels totally inimical to the Chief Ministers to come to control the PCC(I)s, the southern Congress(I) parties would be paralysed by overt factionalism similarly to the North, threatening schism in the party.®' This Rao could not afford. He was indebted to the southern Chief Ministers whose support during the succession struggle helped to tip the power balance in his favour against Pawar. Moreover, since about a quarter of his ^^ For discussions of the dictatorial style of political management in these states, see the following pieces, Anand Viswanathan, "K.Karunakaran: Steamroller Strategy," India Today, February 29, 1992, pp. 37-9., "The Congress(I): Southern Discomfort," India Today, August 15, 1992, pp. 28-31. 97 Adiraju, p. 215 66 party's MPs in the Lok Sabha came from the region, Rao had to be sure that these MPs would be under tight rein from their home state through the grip of his ally Chief Ministers. The events at the convention of the All-India Congress(I) Committee held at Tirupathi on April 14, 1992 confirmed the trends noted above. ^^ The significance of the results of AICC(I) session lay, however, in formalizing and institutionalizing the power bases of the rival Congress(I) factions and their relative strengths. Rao's hold on the party presidency was confirmed at Tirupathi. The convention, however, was more important because Rao, breaking with his party's practice in the past three decades, decided to let the appropriate number of members in the CWC be elected by the AICC(I). Previously, all party executives had been nominated by the President. ^^ In the CWC balloting, Arjun Singh received 43 0 votes, more than any other candidate running for a seat in the party executive. Sharad Pawar fared only a little worse by obtaining 404 votes. A more threatening sign to Rao was the composition of Singh's constituency: the Madhya Pradesh strongman received votes from party delegates coming from all over the country implying his potential to rise as an alternative leader with nation-wide following in the party. Pawar's votes were more restricted ^^  The following paragraphs draw primarily on the excellent coverage on the events and implications of the Tirupati convention in Zafar Agha, "Congress After Tirupati: Who Runs the Show," India Today, May 15, 1992, pp. 31-4. ^^  Adiraju, p. 216. 67 regionally, which suggested that he would have to balance between the Singh and the Rao sides in his attempts at making inroads in Centre politics. Another troubling sign for Rao in the CWC balloting was the success of A.K. Antony, the chief rival of Kerala Chief Minister Karunakaran, Rao's most trusted southern supporter. Antony gained as many as 426 votes, most of them from the South. Despite his regionally concentrated base, Antony's position in the configuration of the power-groups was decided, unlike Pawar's. The Kerala dissident would definitely support the Arjun Singh camp because of his enmity with the pro-Rao Karunakaran. The rest of those elected to the CWC were at best Rao's trusted men and at least Singh's or Pawar's foes, including his Political Secretary Jitendra Prasad, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister for Communications Rajesh Pilot, Agriculture Minister Balram Jhakkar, Minister for Law Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy. Interestingly, all female and Scheduled Caste candidates lost.-^ °° To get rid of the troubling presence of his arch-rivals in the CWC who again demonstrated an unambiguous following in the party, Rao decided to transfer both Singh and Pawar from their elected berths to the nominated category of the Committee while asking five other elected officials, his own followers, to resign in favour of giving representation to women and Harijans.^°^ Since the president automatically controls his nominated CWC members, Rao's "° Adiraju, p. 217. ^°^ "Authoritarian Streak," India Today, June 15, 1992, p. 14. 68 move neutralized the independent influence that Singh and Pawar could have exerted in the Committee. By ensuring that the elected CWC members, who had the support of their electoral mandates behind them, would not include challengers to his power, Rao transformed the CWC into his personal machine. To extend his control over the party executive he filled up the rest of the nominated berths with Singh's and Pawar's enemies, and by his own supporters such as Kerala Chief Minister K. Karunakaran. By so doing the party president dealt an unambiguous blow to internal democratization. A brief check of the assets and liabilities that the main rivals emerged with in the aftermath of the organizational elections is in order. Rao emerged a winner both by obtaining the mandate of a legitimate party forum as Congress(I) President and by consolidating a power base within the party institution. After his manipulations he achieved complete control over the CWC. Furthermore, with the exception of Arjun Singh's and Pawar's home turfs, most state-level party leaders were his men, especially in the Hindi-belt and the South, albeit for different reasons. In addition, Rao was freed from the influence of the Gandhi coterie which was by and large exposed and routed throughout the process of the elections. Rao's main liability consisted in having to face the strengths his rivals displayed at the Tirupathi session. The sheer number of votes which his rivals could secure for themselves indicated that the leadership issue had still not been resolved. With regard to Singh and Pawar, the most obvious gain was exactly this demonstration of their popularity among party workers. 69 It was more pronounced in the case of Singh whose support came from a wider geographical base than Pawar's. However, they both stood helpless before Rao's cunning manoeuvres and had to bow to the man who appeared to turn the institutional prerogatives vested in him as a compromise to his own benefit. 1992-1993: Challenges To Rao's Rule In the summer of 1992 when it appeared that Narasimha Rao had consolidated his bases of power in both party and governmental institutions, some cracks also became visible in his ruling formula. I shall discuss two of these challenges, each of which tested the fundamental premises upon which Rao's leadership rested. The two points that I will elaborate on are the erosion of the party's southern base and the implications of the Hindu-Muslim communal strife leading to the assembly elections in the four northern BJP-governed states in November 1993 that had been placed under President's rule following the crisis at Ayodhya in December 1992. As I have shown above, Rao's support base in the southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh was becoming increasingly precarious because of the mounting unpopularity of Chief Ministers of these states and the divisive factionalism to which it led in the local party units. As a result, the party suffered a series of losses in local elections in the region in 70 August 1992. A change in leadership in these states had become unavoidable. Chief Ministers Bangarappa of Karnataka and Janardhana Reddy of Andhra Pradesh had lost their grip over their state parties. Official Congress(I) candidates in the aforementioned elections were repeatedly defeated by candidates fielded by the intra-PCC(I) opposition which was badly hurting the party's image and viability in the South. Factional dissidents openly protested to Rao for the Chief Ministers' resignation.^"^ Understanding that his southern commanders would no longer safely deliver the much needed support that had been the life-blood of his reign at the centre, Rao capitalized on the southern leadership crisis to establish his direct authority in the region. Rao replaced the Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh by his own followers but allowed them to maintain their influence by retaining their core confidants in key positions. In addition, he also appointed to the state cabinets members of the dissident camps along with his own men. By so doing Rao kept alive the incessant battling between the old guard and the reformist factions and placed his own men in power on top of them.-^ °^  He did not lose local support as he did not choose either of the adversaries over the other and yet he also managed to make his own independent inroads in the South. His moves began to be reminiscent of the dynastic tendency to direct local affairs from the Centre, °^^  Zafar Agha, "The Prime Minister: Dithering Rao," India Today, October 15, 1992, p. 34. ^°^ Amarnath Menon, "Andhra Pradesh: A Troubled Transition," India Today, October 31, 1992, pp. 40-1. 71 especially so in Andhra Pradesh where Rao provided his own kinsmen with top-level party and cabinet offices.^"* The southern problem took on a different dimension in Kerala. Central intervention to resolve the troubles around Chief Minister Karunakaran would have had more severe repercussions at the centre. To recall, Karunakaran's main rival was A.K. Antony, who became increasingly influential at the centre after his impressive show at the Tirupathi session and pledged his support to Arjun Singh in central Congress(I) politics. Therefore, to avoid a direct confrontation at the centre, Rao had to stay publicly aloof from Kerala affairs and let Karunakaran fight Antony's challenges with whatever means the Chief Minister saw fit. By so doing, however, Rao gave his consent to the continued deterioration and fractionalization of the Kerala Congress(I) without offering any solution to it. The second challenge to confront Rao was the escalating strife between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the North. The communal tension was not new, it had been crippling Indian politics for a long time. The immediate issue that caused the resurgence of animosity between the two sides was the holy site at Ayodhya claimed by both. The Hindus claimed that it was the birthplace of Lord Rama where a temple had stood but was destroyed in the 16th century by a Moghul conqueror to build a mosque there called the Babri Masjid. This contentious issue posed a fundamental challenge °^^  Zafar Agha, Javed Ansari, "Congress (I) : Season of Discontent," India Today, November 30, 1992, p. 27. 72 not only to Rao's leadership but to the political future of the whole country. Rao recognized the fundamental importance of the problem and tried to resolve it through his consensual approach by bringing both sides together in a search for a solution. ^ °^  The problem had a significant implication for intra-Congress(I) politics. Rao's strategy to let the party vanish in the North was in keeping with his government's consensual approach: he was keen on avoiding commitments to either side to the detriment of the other. Obviously, any attempt to revive Congress(I) in the Hindi heartland would have necessitated reliance on either the Muslim or the Hindu vote. In the light of what I have said before about the BJP's mastering an electoral polarization between the two communities, Rao had to choose between either fighting the BJP for Hindu votes or to pursue an adversary course and ride on the Muslim vote bank or to stay aloof of northern affairs as long as possible. He stuck to the third option. This is why, among other reasons, it was a must for Rao to avoid the rise of a powerful northern Congress(I) leader, something that Arjun Singh had been aspiring for. In the aftermath of his humiliation at Tirupathi by Rao, Singh relayed a direct challenge to the party president by announcing a radical anti-BJP ideological plank. As I have noted, this was exactly where Rao was most vulnerable. Singh's renewed challenge meant an open attack on his ruling strategy: consensus politics and the weakening of the Congress(I) in the North. Singh's charge Adiraju, p. 24« 73 against the BJP which controlled the state governments of UP, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, signalled that he did not abandon his attempt at extending his popular base all over the North. The strength Singh demonstrated in the party establishment during the organizational elections coupled with this new agenda made him emerge as an ever more formidable rival to Rao. To succeed, however, Singh had to secure the support of other ,powerful leaders in the party who might otherwise team up with Rao against his attempts at leadership. The dilemma of succession in 1991 appeared to be echoed in the party once more: should a popular leader with a proven mass base be allowed to reach the top or should leadership rather be granted to someone with less sway but who was mutually acceptable to everyone? By this time, however, Rao, the former compromise feignant, had grown into an equally powerful contender. The party president himself circumscribed Singh's efforts both by neutralizing leaders whom Singh might target for coalition, such as Pawar, and playing off others against him, such as Tiwari. Rao managed to put Pawar on the sidelines in two ways. First, he masterminded a revolt against the Maharashtra strongman in his own home state. Since Pawar moved into national politics by occupying the Defence portfolio he left his proxy Sudhakarrao Naik behind as Chief Minister. ^ °^  In November 1992, however, Pawar's grip on the state appeared to tremble when Naik expelled twelve "^ "Statenotes," India Today, July 31, 1991, p. 97 74 Pawar loyalists from the state cabinet upon Rao's encouragement.^"'' Thus Pawar was forced to be preoccupied with reinstating his sway over his home turf before making any risky commitment and alliance at the centre. Second, Pawar was also muted at the centre after being involved in a case of electoral misconduct and being barred from voting in the Lok Sabha by the indictment of the Supreme Court. Overall, Arjun Singh had to realize that the hands of his most powerful possible ally were tightly bound. In the meantime, the Hindu-Muslim conflict reached its climax when the "mosque . . . was flattened by Hindu mobs in a frenzy on December 6, 1992."^°^ Rao's response was to suspend the BJP governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, and to proclaim President's Rule in these states. Until the new elections, scheduled to be held in November 1993, appointed Congress(I) executives took over. Whether Rao issued these orders on his own initiative or because he yielded to Arjun Singh's pressure to take a tough stand on the BJP remains to be researched. The point is that he gave up his cherished consensus policy and entered an overt power struggle against Singh precipitated by the November elections. Whereas the elections entailed the risk of Singh's garnering popularity and sway in the North, they also offered Rao an opportunity to openly defeat him ^" M. Rahman, "Asserting Authority," India Today, November 30, 1992, p. 17 and Zafar Agha, "Congress (I) : Season of Discomfort," p. 27. "^ Adiraju, p. 246. 75 there. To this end, Rao reached out for Tiwari and rallied him to muster Congress(I) gains in the elections by relying on his long-time bases of support there. ^ °^  Tiwari's strategy conveniently counterbalanced that of the Madhya Pradesh boss: whereas Singh was keen on rallying the Muslim and lower caste vote banks, Tiwari was trying to mobilize a broader coalition of Muslim, Scheduled Caste and Brahmin votes. By making the two strong leaders fight out the question of leadership in the North, Rao ensured that they would both mutually weaken each other. The honeymoon between Tiwari and Rao, however, did not last long. Tiwari's credentials were excellent in the North and he was not without admirers in the South either, especially among the upper castes there. To let him restore the party in the North may have made him a likely figure to emerge as an alternative national leader to Rao. Therefore, once Tiwari's campaign sufficiently damaged Singh's efforts, Rao sidelined him by letting him be undercut in factional fighting by his loyal UPPCC(I) chiefs. From then onwards, Rao had himself projected as the Congress(I) standard-bearer in the elections. By so doing he stifled both Singh's and Tiwari's hopes and channelled the challengers into the open arena where he was master. As an observer noted correctly, no Congress leader had ever been openly challenged without causing a °^® Dilip Awasthi, "N.D. Tiwari: The Old-Timer Returns," India Today, September 15, 1992, p. 55, and Zafar Agha, Y. Ghimire, "Congress(I): Challenges That Fizzled," India Today, August 31, 1992, p. 24. 76 split in the party even in case of utmost unpopularity. "No matter how much weak a Congress leader is personally, he is institutionally a czar" because the party, the government and the administration are closely intertwined. What gives the Congress leader his or her institutional strength is the fact that "[t]hose who reap benefits from the power structure will not upset the order for fear of losing their positions. "•^ °^ The results of the November 1993 elections vindicated Rao. In UP, the party was once more devastated. The number of Congress(I) seats in the state assembly was further reduced from 46 to 28. Interestingly, however, the BJP also suffered a significant setback from 211 to 177 seats. The UP assembly became controlled by a coalition of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav. It is interesting to note that the winning combination of this alliance was the same that Arjun Singh had wanted: Muslims and lower castes coupled with a clear stand against the B JP. ^-^-^  In retrospect, had Rao not undone Singh's efforts, the Madhya Pradesh strongman would likely have been able to revive Congress(I) in U.P. by mobilizing the eventually winning combination of voters. Congress(I) showed a remarkable recovery at the state polls in Madhya Pradesh. Compared to the last assembly elections which produced a Congress(I) :BJP seat ratio of 56:220{!), Congress(I) won ^^ ° Inderjit Badhwar, "Narasimha Rao: A Battered Prime Minister," India Today, August 15, 1993, p. 25. ^^^ Inderjit Badhwar, "A Badly Needed Reprieve," India Today, December 15, 1993, p. 27. 77 173 seats against the BJP's 114. Despite the results, Arjun Singh could no consider it a great success for himself. Most of the winning Congress(I) candidates were fielded by his local foes, the pro-Rao Shukla camp.^^^ The party won a landslide victory in the small state of Himachal Pradesh by winning 52 seats against the BJP's 8 and completely reversing the previous position of the two parties which showed a 9:46 Congress(I):BJP ratio. In Rajasthan it fared slightly worse than the BJP. These outcomes highlight two trends, both of which are currently tipping the balance in Rao's favour. First, the overall results show that by the next general elections Congress (I) can and will become an alternative to the BJP in the North. The fact that his party managed to wrest two states previously governed by the BJP will definitely increase Rao's authority. Although the party lost badly again in UP, the principal Hindi belt state, the beneficiary was not the BJP. Second, it follows from this last point that since Congress (I) remains weak in UP, Rao would not need to worry about the rise of any leader commanding mass support in that most important state. 112 nrpj^g States: Surprise Outcomes," India Today, December 15, 1993, p. 38. 78 CHAPTER FOUR: STRUCTURAL CONTINUITY AND THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS PARTY The processes of organizational and structural continuity in the Congress Party after the end of the dynastic period can be explained by a combination of the conceptual and theoretical tools that I set out in Chapter One. This framework implies that the actual political phenomenon will be explained by factors grouped together in a funnel of causality. Although I do not intend to claim that the explanatory force of the mentioned theories is graduated according to which level of analysis they are operating at, it is sensible to consider their implications in sequence and, then, decipher the interrelations between each level of the inquiry in accordance with the explanatory model that I identified. The Organization And Its Environment I introduced several theories suggesting a positive correlation between external turbulence in the environment and internal cohesion and stability in the group or organization. In a theoretical sense, the political environment, which I conceptualized as the party system and the electoral arena, provided a constraint at the systemic level to foster cohesion and continuity in the Congress party. The problem can be reformulated as follows: under the circumstances afforded by the forces of change that were at work in the electoral arena and the party 79 system, the agents of centrifugal pressure within the party would not have gained from upsetting the internal organizational order and the balances of power of the organization. To understand the significance of this observation one has to refer back to the state of the party system around the time when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. As I have shown, the shock of the murder came during the second round of the tenth general elections. That particular election in conjunction with the preceding ninth general election in 1989 proved to be critical ones in Key's and Sundquist's terms. ^^^  They were such because a critical realignment was occurring amidst the electorate which ultimately ended the predominant party system that had characterized India since Independence. As Sartori argues, when the electorate begins to deny the dominant party a majority of parliamentary seats on a consistent basis, that signals the end of such a party system. Table 1 provides information on the performance of the Congress Party in India's ten Lok Sabha elections. The numbers unambiguously reveal that the 1989-91 binary elections indeed signalled the end of the Congress system. Throughout seven general elections between 1952 and 1984, the Congress Party managed to preserve its parliamentary majority on a consistent basis. It is worth noting, however, that these majorities have always been manufactured ones. Thanks to the institutional facilitator role of the electoral ^^^ The idea to treat these two elections together as binary elections because of the manifold significant implications they had for the Indian political system is suggested by the articles in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds. 80 system the percentage of the actual seats that the party was awarded was significantly greater than its percentage share of the popular vote. The only deviant election before 1989 was the one held in 1977 when Congress was replaced in government at the national level for the very first time by the Janata Party. However, that was not a critical realigning election. The drop in the party's electoral standing was the direct consequence of the shock that trembled the whole political system at large: Indira Gandhi's unpopular authoritarian move to install an Emergency regime. The electoral deviation of 1977 producing a non-Congress national government occurred within the structural parameters of the predominant party system for two reasons. First, the relegation of Congress to an opposition rank was on a one-time unique rather than on a consistent basis. The Janata government could not be sustained for longer than two years and in 1977 the party system reequilibrated to a predominant one when Congress again swept the polls. Second, the Janata Party itself was but a "melange of disaffected Congress factions that bolted the parent organization in reaction to Indira Gandhi's (and her son Sanjay's) authoritarianism".-^" Thus, the 1977-9 Janata experience inversely substantiates the theoretical observation that party cohesion is a positive function of the intensity of inter-party competition. Weak inter-party competition provided opportunities for internal contenders to divide and ultimately split the dominant 114 Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, "Introduction to Part Two" in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, eds., p. 223. 81 party, as Kothari and Morris-Jones suspected. Overall, then, the 1977-9 interlude was but a temporary pause in the structure of the party system. Quite the opposite took place, however, in the 1989-91 period. The parties that challenged Congress at the national level in this period, the BJP and the Janata Dal, were genuine multi-party formations. In contrast to the Congress system, the present party system appears to be an aligned one. By an aligned party system I refer to one where party support and preference are strongly correlated with socio-economic and demographic variables .^ ^^  Both the BJP and the National Front had carved out and occupied distinct political spaces as their constituencies which, in turn, forced Congress to respond. ^ ®^ There are alternative views in the literature on whether class, caste or communal issues are the major sources of cleavage that these parties are capitalizing on. For simplicity's sake, let it be sufficient to reiterate only that the BJP won over substantial support from Congress among the Hindu electorate and especially so among the upper castes. This is what led to the BJP's picking up most Lok Sabha seats in the Hindi heartland, and the formation of BJP governments at the state level in the principal Hindi states of 115 pradeep Chhibber, John Petrocik, "The Puzzle of Indian Politics: Social Cleavages and the Indian Party System," British Journal of Political Science 19 (April 1989), 193, fn. 7. -^•^^  This remark has lost some of its validity in the contemporary scene of Indian party politics because of the apparent disintegration of the National Front since 1991-2. Nevertheless, the point remains that Congress has to compete in an aligned party system today. 82 the North. The principal support base of the National Front is concentrated among the lower Backward Castes and agrarian and artisan interests. This realignment of voters' partisan support gave rise to a tripolar party system with one party, the BJP, on the right, even on the extreme right one could justifiably claim, and with another one, the National Front, on the left. Congress was left and forced by this development to remain in the secular centre of the political party spectrum. The 1989 election produced a hung parliament with no national party gaining a clear majority in the Lok Sabha. Rampant instability characterized the one year of the National Front government under V.P. Singh, first sustained by a coalition with the BJP. Then, when the latter withdrew, Chandra Sekhar's National Front fragment (the Samajwadi Dal) governed with the tacit support of Rajiv Gandhis' Congress. ^ '^ Eventually, the government was brought down when Congress withdrew its legislative support. Under these heated competitive circumstances, the 1991 general election offered Congress the opportunity to return to government. It pursued this aim by projecting itself as the long-time party of stability. The assassination of the Congress party's dynastic leader occurred amidst these conditions. The party was fighting to return to government in a critical election in which voter support could ^^'^  The support that Congress lent to the National Front government was indeed tacit because no formal coalition between the parties was struck. Congress did not participate in government by taking up ministerial portfolios. 83 no longer be taken for granted as segments of the electorate had already been captured by alternative parties. Congress based its electoral strategy on a promise to return the political system to governmental stability. Rallying around the issue of stability was not only an acceptable centrist appeal to the party's loyal voters but was also the only viable strategy to make inroads into the other parties' bases by appealing to those who became disillusioned by the impotence of the previous non-Congress government. The violent murder of its leader further added to the party's hopes to win the election by raising the possibility of a "sympathy factor". The environmental turbulence I have described understandably created a pressure to maintain cohesion within the party during both the succession episode and thereafter. With regard to succession, the party's internal power contenders could not politically afford to engage in a full scale demonstration of their strengths during the electoral period. The goal of winning the elections on the stability and the sympathy planks necessitated that the opposing factions compromise on the question of succession. Overt confrontation and resulting party schism were ruled out as practical possibilities because it would have dealt a mortal blow to the stability plank on which the party was fighting the election. In addition, of course, a Congress paralysed by internal factional strife would also have found it especially hard to fight in a hotly contested election with reasonable chances of victory. Undoubtedly, the loss of the last Gandhi was a loss not only 84 for the party but for the nation as well. The brutal physical elimination of Rajiv Gandhi aroused a widespread sense of uncertainty and insecurity among the voting public. Still, in that situation, the Congress party offered for many, the most secure and stable point of political reference largely because of the historical ties of the party to the nation. Thus, the party leadership was, in fact, forced to demonstrate to the electorate that it was able to survive the shock and live up to its promise to provide the sought-after political stability. Demonstrating the ability to smoothly resolve the immediate succession problem was to be the indicator of the party's capacity to restore stability. If overt power-mongering had prevailed the agenda of the party high command in the wake of the assassination, neither the stability-nor the sympathy-votes would have been realized, and the chances for the political survival, let alone revival, of the party in the post-dynastic era would have been severely impaired. Overall, then, the constraints of the elections amidst a changing party system yield partial understanding for why the intense power struggle in the party headquarters was restrained and why a formal show of unity could prevail in electing Narasimha Rao first as its president and, then, as its Prime Minister. However, the cohesion of the party continued well after the succession chapter was over. In fact, the essence of internal structural continuity became more manifest in the post-succession period. I have argued that this was so, in part, because the environmental factors that the changed realities of the party 85 system afforded continued to command it. The affirmation of an increasingly competitive and aligned multiparty system fosters internal cohesion. Such a party system implies that the political space available to each party is narrower than it used to be under the predominant party-Congress system. In terms of Wellhofer and Hennessey's model of political party development, a contraction of Congress' resources occurred in the electoral market place. Let it be remembered that this model postulated internal schisms and change in the party to be the positive functions of an expansion in the party's electoral resources. Inversely, therefore, a contraction in such resources limits the opportunities for organizational change. Under such conditions, frustrated leadership aspirants who seek to exit the party would find that most of the space on the party spectrum outside the parent party had already been captured by an alternative organization. Thus, a splitting faction may eventually find it harder to survive politically without than within the parent party. Besides the extreme scenario of a party split, however, structural change within the existing organization is equally constrained by the same factor. The fact that the party's electoral resources become limited as it is forced to compete in a more competitive party system suggests that the chances of the internal power seekers to succeed become highly limited. The northern problems of the Congress party provide a good case in point. The party was trounced at the polls in the principal northern state of Uttar Pradesh on a consistent basis in the period that I am examining. In addition, it was also relegated to the opposition role in most states of the Hindi heartland. Such a contraction in the northern electoral resources meant that the leadership bids of the main aspirant contenders from the North, Tiwari and Singh, were doomed to failure. During the dynastic period their advancement in the party had been constrained because of their supposed popularity among significant numbers of voters in that region which was perceived as a potential threat to the power of the dynastic centre. Had either Tiwari or Singh been able to realize this potential of theirs by mastering an improvement in Congress' standing in the North, their respective chances to succeed in the post-Gandhi leadership struggles had similarly been increased. In other words, the constraints that had been imposed on their advancement in the party by the dynastic opportunity structures could have been offset by relying on an expanding base of electoral resources in the aftermath of the Gandhis' rule. During 1991-93, however, they lacked this expansion in external, i.e. electoral, resources that would have lent them a strong basis to bid for power. As I have shown, the 1991 election also resulted in a hung parliament. Although Congress returned to government office, it did so by a slim margin. The numbers I cited to show the parliamentary position of both the Congress and its alliance partners prove this point. Obviously, party politics was no longer to be conducted within the framework of a predominant party system. In order to keep the government in power and maintain some sort of stability 87 despite these unfavourable conditions, the party was constrained to command relentless discipline within its own ranks. At the basic level, it meant, of course, party discipline in the legislature. This is exactly why the reform package and other legislative initiatives of the incoming Narasimha Rao government could not be challenged from within the party without severe consequences. This also implied, however, that Rao as Prime Minister could turn this factor of environmental uncertainty to his own advantage. Any challenge to his Prime Ministerial prerogative from within his own party would have threatened bringing the Congress government down. With an arduous electoral battle just over and with the party's returning to government again, the Prime Minister was given free hand to do his best and steer his minority government through the legislative waters. On this note, I should also point out that the opposition parties were in a similarly difficult state as far as their stand vis-a-vis the Congress government was concerned. For one, neither the BJP nor the National Front combines had a formidable presence in the Lok Sabha that could have allowed them to effectively pursue a concerted attack against the Rao government. In addition, the political system had gone through two general elections in a span of two years (1989-91), demanding immense material and human resources, and had experienced three minority governments in less than three years. With these conditions in mind, not one national party was enthusiastic about engaging in destabilizing hostile political manoeuvres against the Congress government and enter another uncertain election should it lose its parliamentary confidence. Therefore, Narasimha Rao's situation was greatly eased by the more collaborative attitude of the opposition parties. Overall, then, the state of the party system and the electoral landscape fostered internal cohesion within the Congress party. Furthermore, it also constrained the possibility of any major structural change in the organization. Any change in the internal balance of power of the party, or even a threat thereof, would have meant a challenge to the Prime Minister and the stability of his government. Given that the latter was in the best interest of all actors, the Prime Minister was granted a free hand and remained at the apex of the power pyramid very much like during the dynastic decades. Although the end of the dynasty would plausibly suggest that alternative power centers in the organization could develop in direct opposition to the leader, this did not happen. As I have argued, it was, in part at least, due to the environmental factors of competition and uncertainty which jointly fostered the continuity of the status quo in the party's internal balance of power. Organizational Dynamics Environmental factors emanating from the party system provided a major constraint for the Congress party to weather the loss of its charismatic-dynastic leadership without paralysing structural change. However, there are additional forces at work within the party itself that can explain this phenomenon at a deeper-cutting level of analysis. Panebianco's model of political parties focuses on the dominant coalition of the organization, and maintains that structural change is such that involves a change in this coalition. A brief review of the nature of the dynastic dominant coalition in the Congress party will establish analytical yardsticks against which the development and performance of the party's dominant coalition under Narasimha Rao's rulership can be evaluated. In addition, it will show why continuity in the successive coalition had to be maintained which will justify my argument about structural continuity. The sway of the Gandhis over the party establishment rested on enhancing their personal power to the detriment of the party institutions .^ ^^  The key party organs at all levels were staffed by people with no independent political base of support of their own: they were selected on the basis of their personal loyalty to the central leader. To avoid the reassertion of power by regional bosses, both Indira and Rajiv Gandhi "increasingly abandoned the state party structure and grass roots organization in favour of a ^^^ 1 have relied on three outstanding pieces of analyses of the Congress party under the Gandhis: James Manor, "Parties and the Party System, " in India's Democracy: An Analysis of Chancfincf State-Society Relations, ed. Atul Kohli (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 62-98; Stanley Kochanek, "Mrs. Gandhi's Pyramid: The New Congress," in Indira Gandhi's India: A Political System Reappraised, ed. Henry Hart (Boulder: Westview Press, 1976) pp. 93-124; and Atul Kohli, Democracy and Discontent: India's Growing Crisis of Governability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 303-50. 90 plebiscitary system managed from the center".^^^ The party high command in New Delhi took over the task of designating Chief Ministers, composing state cabinets and compiling the state-level candidate slates of the party, all of which had previously been carried out by the state bosses through their control over the Pradesh Congress Committees and the Pradesh Election Committees. As it was becoming the prerogative of the central party high command to pick the party's legislative candidates and delegates, the loyalty of Congress MPs' bound the party's legislators to the Prime Minister rather than to state Chief Ministers and state party leaders. An inevitable consequence of this policy to impose leadership on the local polities from the outside was the alienation of a number of local notables from the party and driving them into the opposition. To be sure, there was a limit to which this centralization and personalization of authority could be stretched. In several regions of the country, the Gandhis still had to rely on the local influence of traditional power holders. The point is, however, that the alliance of such political bosses with the dynastic centre was retained only so long as their popularity did not threaten the central authority. For example, his supposed popularity was the reason why Arjun Singh's political fortunes were on the slide in the later years of Rajiv Gandhi's rule.^^° When Rajiv Gandhi announced in 1985 that organizational elections would be held, he ^" Blair, p. 52. ^^° Kohli, Democracy and Discontent, p. 348. 91 needed Arjun Singh's political expertise to ensure that Gandhi-loyalists would dominate the northern states of U.P. and Madhya Pradesh. Singh was ready to muster such support but only by mobilizing his own supporters and resources. Thus, Rajiv's success would in fact have depended upon Singh's formidable power and following in the region. To avoid this threat to the central power, Singh was eventually demoted in the party's power hierarchy and the elections, although not only for this tactical reason, were indefinitely postponed. It was not only until the results of the ninth general elections that the dynastic centre had to yield and grant more political autonomy to the party's regional strongmen. ^^^  Intense intra-party factionalism at the state and district levels was another means to utilize in order to weaken the local power holders vis-a-vis the center. Congress bosses increasingly had to look to the center for arbitration and support in the paralysing factional infightings. This overall centralizing tendency ran totally counter to the requirements of the country's "culturally multiplex federal system", in which center-state relations are by definition relations of mutual interdependence.-^^^ Lastly, the former organizational strength of Congress was further eroded by making the party machine into an instrument and subsidiary of government. To this end, the two power 121 See citation on p.5. ^^^ Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly, "Introduction: The Ninth General Election" in Harold Gould, Sumit Ganguly eds., p.9. 92 centres of the party presidency and Prime Ministership were united in one person by both Indira and Rajiv Gandhi. By so doing, any possibility of the emergence of a power centre rivalling the position of the Prime Minister was ruled out. Due to the Gandhi's deinstitutionalizing the party. Congress no longer commanded the organizational superiority that could have made the party dominant outside the legislature and equipped to fight effectively the mounting challenges of the opposition parties in the late 1980s. The only means left was a populist-plebiscitary electoral strategy emphasizing the direct contact of the leader with the masses. The party's fortunes therefore became coterminous with the Gandhis' popularity. Power in the Gandhis' Congress rested with the person of the leader rather than with the organization's leadership institutions. ^^^  In terms of Panebianco's model, then, the dynastic party structure featured a cohesive-stable dominant coalition. Let it be remembered that what defines cohesion, in Panebianco's terms, is the degree of concentration of control over the zones of organizational uncertainty. To the extent that these zones are dominated by a small oligarchic party elite, let alone by a charismatic monocrat, one can speak of a cohesive coalition. In fact, Michels' theory on the iron law of the oligarchy postulates that any voluntary association tends towards creating such leadership. Stability, on the other hand, refers to the ability of the members of the dominant coalition, who control those -^^^  Kohli, Democracy and Discontent, pp. 189 and 349 93 alternative zones of uncertainty, to arrive at lasting compromises which prevent overt conflict or splits in the party. In the case of the Gandhi's Congress, it was the personal dependence of members of the dominant coalition on the dynasty rather than the presence of strong institutions of authority or adhered-to formal rules that provided a bond that solidified and stabilized the coalition. In the dynastic Congress Party, the degree of concentration of authority was indeed very high. All principal zones that Panebianco identifies (competency, environmental relations, communication, formal rules, financing, and recruitment) were controlled and managed by the few who won the personal favour of the Gandhi family. Local power and authority structures were bypassed and destroyed exactly for this purpose to create a ruling coalition by a few and avoid the possibility of the emergence of multiple centres and layers of power. Although not all zones constituting the power bases in intra-organizational power struggles were directly monopolized by the dynasty, political survival of contending leaders, who did exert control over those bases of power, was dependent on dynastic approval. As I have shown, leaders who displayed capacity and ability to master zones of uncertainty too dangerous for the dynastic central leadership to tolerate, were relegated to lower positions in the party's authority ladder or were ousted from the organization. Personalized leadership of Gandhian style, therefore, created a Congress oligarchy which was full of internal strife, yet was strongly cemented together by the central commanding authority and aura of the dynastic leader. 94 Intuitively, the structure I have described is bound to collapse once the dynasty vanishes. In the absence of strong institutions that could regulate political behaviour in the party, the loss of the dynasty threatened the disappearance of the only bond which held its dominant coalition together. In fact, Panebianco notes that historical experience suggests that charismatic parties cemented together only by the leader's personal authority will most likely dissolve in the wake of his or her disappearance.^^* This, however, did not happen. Chapters Two and Three have shown that the formation of the post-dynastic dominant coalition in the Congress Party was not fundamentally different from the behaviour and conformation of its dynastic predecessor, apart from some changes in its actual personal composition. The dominant coalition of Narasimha Rao's Congress continues to be a cohesive-stable group of party leaders with the Prime Minister-party president sitting at the apex of the power pyramid. However, an interesting development has occurred in the dominant coalition of the post-dynastic Congress Party: the relative political advancement of popular power holders. I have noted before that this process already started during the last years of Rajiv Gandhi's rule when the ninth general election showed a significant decline in the electoral fortunes of the Congress Party. That, however, only entailed the granting of more local independence to Congress bosses in their fiefdoms. In the dynasty's aftermath, however, these regional strongmen openly contested leadership at 124 Panebianco, Political Parties, p. 162. 95 the national level in the party, a development that was previously unthinkable. The paradox of structural organizational continuity lies exactly here. Why did this improvement in the chances of popular bosses in the intra-party power struggle not lead to a fundamental alteration both in the rules of the game and in conformation of the dominant coalition once the cementing bond of the dynasty had been gone? In terms of Panebianco's model, not one among the aspirants competing for leadership commanded exclusive control over zones of uncertainty that could have tipped the balance of power exclusively into such a leader's favour and enabled him to change fundamentally the power equilibrium in the dominant coalition. In fact, Rao's ruling strategy was based on exploiting these liabilities. Contenders such as Singh, Pawar, and Tiwari each controlled only one narrowly circumscribed zone of organizational uncertainty: portions of environmental relations. Their bases of power rested on their ability to muster votes for the party in their respective regional strongholds. However, the, party was weak electorally in the north, exactly where the power bases of these contenders were concentrated. In a conceptual sense, then, these aspirants displayed less control over their power zones than one would have expected. Although they were certainly strong enough not to be left out of the new post-dynastic dominant coalition, they could not demonstrate a political strength which would have warranted them national leadership. That is the reason why there was no natural successor to the Gandhis, save for Rajiv's widow, upon whom all 96 members in the dominant coalition would have unanimously agreed. Such a natural successor could only have been a person with a wide enough appeal and a strong enough control over power zones to match the commanding reach of the Gandhis. The very essence of the Gandhi's personalized rulership had, however, been to root out any leader with such potential from the organization. As a second best alternative, Rao was chosen party president and Prime Minister as a compromise among the Congress bosses. With the physical elimination of the dynastic authority centre, only those power holders were ousted from the dominant coalition who did not control any vital zone of uncertainty in the organization but occupied offices of influence solely through the dispensation of the leader's paternalistic rewards. This explains why some members of the Gandhis' coterie did not survive politically while others managed to do so. Those in the coterie who turned their influence into controlling a vital zone of uncertainty remained indispensable assets in the post-dynastic era. More specifically, members of the Gandhi inner circle who earlier controlled access to the ears of the dynasty, in fact, developed their own power bases by controlling the flow of communication and information in the party and the government. I have shown examples of how such former Gandhi loyalists managed to retain their sway during both the succession process and after exactly because they developed a monopoly over communication and information channels. Understandably, they had to be retained by Rao so as to keep his popular challengers at bay. 97 In short, the dominant coalition continues to be a cohesive and stable one with a clearly identifiable leader in control at the top. It remains cohesive because control over zones of uncertainty upon which the organization depends continues to be concentrated in the hands of a small elite. It also remains stable because the bases of the power holders mutually complement one another in maintaining elite cohesion and do not let any one of the advancing popular leaders establish a widespread sway over the whole organization. And, as with the Gandhis, the stability of the coalition is fostered by the consolidation of strong central power in Rao's hands. Sub-Party Dynamics The same conclusions are justified by the theoretical insights offered in the factionalism literature I cited in Chapter Two. In terms of Rose's distinctions, the power contenders at the national level did not command a strictly defined factional following. Rather, they each headed a loosely allied conglomerate of followers. On the continuum of more or less corporateness proposed by Sartori, these intra-Congress camps were further away from the extreme marked by pure factions and closer to that marked by tendencies. The implication of this conceptual difference between modes of sub-party competition is significant for the present study. A leader who bases his claim to power on heading a looser 98 rather than a more cohesive faction, is more likely to see his follower base manipulated and eroded by his rivals. This is exactly what often happened during the internal power struggles at the national level in the Congress Party. For example, during the succession game, Pawar ultimately failed in his bid for the party leadership because the contingent of Maharashtra Congress MPs whose loyalty he was supposed to command were wooed away easily by the forces backing Rao. Similarly, Rao's whole strategy of power consolidation can be explained by the same factor. He succeeded in consolidating his power by attracting his arch rivals' followers whose loyalty was binding them only loosely. It is important to point out, however, that factions are prevalent at sub-national levels of political competition in the party. As Nicholson argues, the impact of scale indeed determines the intensity and mode of factional political competition. Rao's rivals commanded strong factional following in their respective localities. However, this is not a powerful enough asset to carry over into the national arena. At the national level, leadership requires the ability to deal in more generalized political currencies than what a local factional leader is used to. That is why Nicholson claims that whereas strong local following and identification with a narrow regional base is an indispensable political asset at the state level, it turns into a liability at the national level where several different interests have to be addressed and dealt with. If the factional leader carries with him the representation of his local followers' demands to the national 99 level, his chances to bid for national leadership are going to be impaired, since such demands often can only be fulfilled at the expense of others arising from alternative regions of the country. On the other hand, however, local following means that the leader in question is a potential vote-getter, and as such can wrest control over environmental relations in his region, which is an important zone of organizational uncertainty representing a power base in intra-elite bargaining, according to Panebianco. The failure of popular Congress bosses to rewrite the power equilibrium in the party's dominant coalition can, thus, be explained by the anomaly arising from the mutually exclusive relationship between the impact of scale on factional power and the party's opportunity structure which puts a premium on local following and vote-getting ability, that is, control over a zone of organizational uncertainty. Leaders whose ability to deliver votes from a given region is vital for the party are drawn into national politics as a reward. Once there, however, these bosses cannot cater to the interests of their local followers as effectively as they could before and their follower base loosens. As that happens, they are no longer seen as vote-getters, and lose their control over the zone of organizational uncertainty which had granted them their position in the party's dominant coalition in the first place. The demise of U.P. strongman Tiwari, and the eventual sidelining of Pawar by Rao were the result of this anomaly. Both regional leaders shifted their attention to the national level which led to the almost complete erosion of the vote-getting base 100 in Tiwari's case, and the risk of takeover of power by alternative state factions in Pawar's Maharashtra. Arjun Singh was the only one among the power contenders who tried to create a support base wide enough to protect him from this anomaly. However, he lacked the institutional sources of power that Rao commanded as Prime Minister and party president. An overt challenge to him would not have resulted in creating a new power equilibrium in the party but a split of the organization. For reasons I have detailed above, this would not have served anyone's interests any better than the maintenance of the status quo. Conclusion In summing up the main findings of this study, I will briefly reiterate what I think to be the most compelling evidence to justify the argument that the Indian National Congress continues to retain the structural properties of its dynastic model at the all-India level. Much like under the dynasty, the Congress president-Prime Minister retains supreme political authority. Although his initial assumption of power was a result of a series of compromises, once Rao was invested with national leadership of both the party and the Congress government, the leadership contenders automatically lost their own spheres of maneuvering. Rao successfully utilized his skills at legislative politics to consolidate his own power and stature by keeping a minority 101 government alive and eventually attaining a parliamentary majority. Furthermore, he also managed to make the most of his rivals' liabilities. His internal party politicking was based on favouring the southern Congress phalanx, where most of the party's electoral strength came from, over the North. In fact, the party's continuing debacles in the Hindi belt, to which Rao himself contributed by letting factionalism run rampant in the northern Congress units and consciously destroying the independent political fortunes of popular regional Congressmen such as Tiwari and Singh, was his trump card against his most formidable opponents. In other words, Rao extended the dynastic pattern of enhancing a deinstitutionalized party structure in order to avoid the emergence of rival challengers and alternative power centres. The way he resolved the southern problem and manipulated the party's participation in the November 1993 assembly elections in the Hindi belt reveal the same pattern of concentrating power in his own hands rather than letting the party institutions assume authority. Finally, I shall turn to the question that I posited in the Introduction: what are the trajectories of development that the party will most likely follow in the long run? On the basis of the foregoing it seems plausible to suggest that with Rao's own consolidated "dynastic" politics. Congress will never recover from the mischiefs of its deinstitutionalized authority structures. I believe that the party has to restore its electoral dominance and find itself again in an electorally safe situation in order for a structural reform to take place. Only then can leadership aspirants 102 who aim to alter the conformation of the party's dominant coalition pursue their own course free of the bondage of that external constraint. The chances, however, for such a realignment in the party system in the near future are minimal. If so, then, the Congress Party may well be doomed to an ossification of its internal structures created by the dynasty. 103 BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS AND ARTICLES Adiraju, Venkateswar Rao. The Right Prime Minister: The Political Biography of P.V. Narasimha Rao. Hyderabad: See Satya Publications, 1993 . Aronoff, Myron J. "Fission and Fusion: The Politics of Factionalism in the Israel Labor Parties," in Faction Politics:Political Parties and Factionalism in Comparative Perspective, eds. Belloni,F. and Beller,D. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 1978. Bachman, David. "The Limits on Leadership in China." Asian Survey 32 (November 1992), 1046-62. Bjorkman, James Warner. "India: Party, Personality and Dynasty," in Political Parties: Electoral Change and Structural Response, ed. Alan Ware, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987. Blair, Harry W. "Local Support Bases and the Ninth General Election in Bihar and Maharashtra, " in India Votes: Alliance Politics and Minority Governments in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections, eds. Gould,H. and Ganguly,S. Boulder: Westview Press, 1993. Brass, Paul. Factional Politics in an Indian State. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965. Brecher, Michael. Succession in India: A Study in Decision-Making. London: Oxford University Press, 1966. . "Succession in India 1967: The Routinization of Political Change." Asian Survey 7 (July 1967), 423-43. Chand, Attar. Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao: The Scholar and The Statesman. New Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1991. Chhibber, Pradeep K. and John R. Petrocik. "The Puzzle of Indian Politics: Social Cleavages and the Indian Party System." British Journal of Political Science 19 (April 1989), 191-210. Cooper, Joseph and Louis Maisel. "Problems and Trends in Party Research: An Overview," in Political Parties: Development and Decay. eds. Maisel,L. and Cooper,J. Beverly Hills: SAGE Publications, 1978. Crotty, William. "The Party Organization and Its Activities," in Approaches to the Study of Party Organization, ed. Crotty,W., Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1968. 104 . "A Perspective for the Comparative Analysis of Political Parties," Comparative Political Studies 3 (October 1970) , 267-96. Gatlin, Douglas S. "Toward a Functionalist Theory of Political Parties: Inter-Party Competition in North Carolina," in Approaches to the Study of Party Organization, ed. Crotty,W., Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1978. Gould, Harold and Sumit Ganguly. "Introduction: The Ninth General Election," in India Votes:Alliance Politics and Minority Governments in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections, eds. Gould,H. and Ganguly,S., Boulder: Westview Press, 1993. . "Introduction to Part Two," in India Votes:Alliance Politics and Minority Governments in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections, eds. Gould,H. and Ganguly,S., Boulder:Westview Press, 1993. Gould, Harold A. "Mandal, Mandir, and Dalits: Melding Class with Ethnoreligious Conflict in India's Tenth General Election," in India Votes: Alliance Politics and Minority Governments in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections, eds. Gould,H. and Ganguly,S., Boulder: Westview Press, 1993. Hardgrave, Robert L. "Alliance Politics and Minority Government: India at the Polls, 1989 and 1991," in India Votes:Alliance Politics and Minority Governments in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections. eds. Gould,H. and Ganguly,S., Boulder: Westview Press, 1993. Kochanek, Stanley. The Congress Party of India: The Dynamics of One-Party Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968. . "Mrs. Gandhi's Pyramid: The New Congress," in Indira Gandhi's India: A Political System Reappraised, ed. Henry Hart. Boulder: Westview Press, 1976. Kohli, Atul, ed. India's Democracy: An Analysis of Changing State-Society Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Democracy and Discontent: India' Growing Crisis of Governability. Cambrdige: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Kothari, Rajni. "The Congress 'System' in India," Asian Survey (December 1964), pp. 1161-73. . Politics in India. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1970. Kumari, Arun, ed. The Tenth Round: Story of Indian Elections 1991. Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1991. 105 Lai, J.N. "Factionalism in the Congress Party: Causes and Consequences," in The Congress Party in India: Policies, Culture, and Performance. ed. Gehlot,N.S. New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1991. Lawson, Kay. The Comparative Study of Political Parties. New York: St. Martin Press, 1976. Manor, James. "Parties and the Party System," in India's Democracy: An Analysis of Chancring State-Society Relations, ed. Kohli, A. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Medding, Peter Y. "A Framework for the Analysis of Power in Political Parties." Political Studies 18 (1970), 1-17. Morris-Jones, W.H. "Dominance and Dissent: Their Inter-relations in the Indian Party System," in Politics Mainly Indian, ed. Morris-Jones,W.H. Madras: Orient Longman, 1978. "From Monopoly to Competition in India's Politics," in Politics Mainly Indian, ed. Morris-Jones,W.H. Madras: Orient Longman, 1978. .. "The Indian Congress Party: A Dilemma of Dominance," in Politics Mainly Indian, ed. Morris-Jones,W.H. Madras: Orient Longman,1978. . Politics Mainly Indian. Madras: Orient Longman, 1978. Nicholson, Norman K. "The Factional Model and the Study of Politics," Comparative Political Studies 5 (October 1972), 291-314 "Factionalism and Public Policy in India: The Vertical Dimension" in Faction Politics, eds. Belloni,F. and Beller,D. Panebianco, Angelo. Political Parties : Organization and Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Riggs, Fred W. "Comparative Politics and the Study of Political Parties," in Approaches to the Study of Party Organization, ed. Crotty,W., Boston: Allyn and bacon, 1978. Rose, Richard. "Parties, Factions, and Tendencies in Britain." Political Studies 12 (February 1964), 37-42. Rudolph, Lloyd I. "Why Rajiv Gandhi's Death Saved the Congress: How an Event Affected the Outcome of the 1991 Election in India," in India Votes: Alliance Politics and Minority Governments in the Ninth and Tenth General Elections, eds. Gould,H. and Ganguly,S., Boulder: Westview Press, 1993 106 Sartori, Giovanni, Parties and Party Systems: A Framework for Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. Shah, M.C. Consensus and Conciliation: P.V. Narasimha Rao. New Delhi: Shipra, 1992. Singh, Mahendra Prasad. Split in a Predominant Party: The Indian National Congress in 1969. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1981. Sisson, Richard. "Pathways to India's National Governing Elite," in Pathways to Power: Selecting Rulers in Pluralist Democracies, ed. Dogan, Mattel. Boulder: Westview Press, 1989. Sundquist, James. Dynamics of the Party System. Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1983. Weiner, Myron. "Congress Restored: Continuities and Discontinuities in Indian Politics." Asian Survey 12 (April 1982), 339-55. . Party Building in a New Nation: The Indian National Congress. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967. Party Politics in India: The Development of a Multi-Party System. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957 , ed. State Politics in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968. Wellhofer, Spencer E. and Timothy Hennessey. "Political Party Development: Institutionalization, Leadership Recruitment, and Behavior," American Journal of Political Science 18 (1974), 135-65. Wood, John R.,ed. State Politics in Contemporary India: Crisis or Continuity?. Boulder: Westview Press, 1984. Zariski, Raphael. "Party Factions and Comparative Politics: Some Empirical Findings," in Faction Politics:Political Parties and Factions in Comprative Perspective, eds. Belloni,F. and Seller,D. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 1978. Zuckerman, Alan. "Political Cleavage: a Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis," British Journal of Political Science 5 (April 1975), 231-248 NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS Individual pieces are cited throughout the text 107 TABLES Table 1. The electoral performance of the Indian National Congress Party (INC) in India's ten general (Lok Sabha) elections. Year Total # INC seats INC vote INC seats government 1952 1957 1962 1967 1971 1989 1991 498 494 494 520 518 364 371 361 283 352 45.0 47.8 44.7 40.8 43 .7 1977 542 1980 529 1984 542 154 34.5 353 42.7 415 48.1 525 543 196 227 39.5 37.6 74.4 INC majority 75.0 INC majority 73.0 INC majority 54.4 INC majority 67.9 INC majority 2 8.4 JNP majority 66.7 INC majority 76.5 INC majority 3 7.3 JNP-BJP coalition 42.3 INC minority Source: The elections data for 1952-1984 are borrowed from V.B. Singh and Shankar Bose, Elections in India: Data Handbook on Lok Sabha Elections, 1952-85 (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1984) pp. 25-27, 650 and 660. For the 1989 election, Harold Gould, "Patterns of Political Mobilization in the Parliamentary and Assembly Elections of 1989 and 1990," in India Votes p. 36, and Paul Wallace, "The Regionalization of Indian Electoral Politics, 1989-90: Punjab and Haryana, " in India Votes p. 157. For the 1991 election, Paul Wallace, "India's 1991 Elections: Regional Factors in Haryana and Punjab," in India Votes p. 423. The column showing the % of seats won by the Congress Party contains my own calculation. The percentage was arrived at by multiplying the number of INC seats by 100 and dividing it by the number of total seats available for every given year. 108 Table 2. Performances of major parties in the Ninth and Tenth Indian General Elections in terms of the number of seats won Party 1989 1991 Congress 196 227 Bharatiya Janata (BJP) 88 119 Janata Dal 142 53 Left Front (CPI and CPM) 43 47 Note: One is confronted with significant difficulties in determining the actual numbers of seats won by parties as the information offered by sources displays considerable discrepancies. Therefore, the data contained in the above table may be falsified by some depending on the source used. Sources: On the 1991 elections: Paul Wallace, "India's 1991 Elections: Regional Factors in Haryana and Punjab," in H. Gould and S. Ganguly, eds., India Votes Table 17.1, p. 423., and Robert Hardgrave, "Alliance Politics and Minority Government: India at the Polls, 1989 and 1991," in India Votes p. 234. On the 1989 elections: Harold Gould, "Patterns of Political Mobilization in the Parliamentary and Assembly Elections of 1989 and 1990," in India Votes Table 2.1, p. 36., and Paul Wallace, "The Regionalization of Indian Electoral Politics 1989-90: Punjab and Haryana," in India Votes Table 6.1, p. 157. 109 Table 3. Congress strength in states discussed in the text State Associated Lok Sabha seats 1989 1991 Uttar Pradesh 85 Madhya Pradesh 4 0 Maharashtra 4 8 The South: Andhra Pradesh 41 Karnataka 26 Kerala • 2 0 Tamil Nadu 41 Source: Harold Gould, "Mandal, Mandir, and Dalits: Melding Class with Ethnoreligious Conflict in India's Tenth General Election," in India Votes Table 14.1, p. 319., and Arun Kumar, ed. , The Tenth Round pp. 4 - 6. 15 8 28 39 27 14 25 4 27 37 24 22 13 28 110 Table 4. Results of the 1993 state assembly elections with figures in brackets indicating previous party positions. State Seats Uttar Pradesh 425 Rajasthan 200 Himachal Pradesh 68 Madhya Pradesh 319 Delhi 70 Source: Inderjit Badhwar, "Saffron Setback," India Today, December 15, 1993, p. 26., and Harold Gould, "Patterns of Political Mobilization in the Parliamentary and Assembly Elections of 1989 and 1990," in India Votes pp. 44-48. Congress 28 (46) 76 (50) 52 (9) 173 (56) 14 BJP 177 (211) 95 (85) 8 (46) 114 (220) 49 Janata Dal 27 (91) 6 (54) 0 (11) SP-BSP 176 (42 — --missing (28) 4 --


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