The Janata Party experiment was launched in 1977 and died in 1980. The Janata Dal experiment lasted from 1989-91 and then had a revival from 1996-98. Now there is a third Janata experiment afoot in 2014 thanks to the dominance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A look at the A to Z of all these Janata experiments…
A for Advani, Vajpayee and the Sangh Pariwar.
The Sangh Pariwar had joined the Janata Party in 1977. They exited in 1980 and carved a niche for themselves and the only thing they did was retain the name, going from the Bharatiya Jana Sangh to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
They also supported the Janata experiment in 1989 from the outside.
B for Biju Patnaik.
All the Janata constituents carved up the Janata Dal State by State. One such was Biju Janata Dal which has been ruling Odisha since 2000.
C for Chaudhary Charan Singh and Chandra Shekhar.
Two short-lived Janata Prime Ministers. The first lasted for less than 6 months (and didn’t even face Parliament as PM) while the second lasted for seven odd months.
D for Devi Lal.
He could have been Janata Dal PM in 1989 but was hoodwinked into becoming Deputy PM.
E for Emergency.
This is what started it all. Had there been no Emergency, then there may have been no Janata experiment and maybe the Congress would have scraped through in the second Lok Sabha elections of the 1970s.
F for Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.
In India, most people don’t have a mind of their own and just follow orders. What if President Ahmed had refused to sign the Emergency order? Would it have not taken place?
G for George Fernandes.
A fiery Janata leader, he was involved in the Baroda bomb plot and his breakaway faction was the Samata Party which joined hands with the NDA government of the 1990s.
H for HD Deve Gowda.
Prime Minister from 1996-97-98, a forgettable chapter in India’s history…
I for IK Gujral.
…followed by Gujral from 1997-98 who was even more forgettable.
J for Jayaprakash Narayan.
This Gandhian and former Congress stalwart united the Janata Pariwar for the first time, but it collapsed after his death in 1979.
K for Kriplani.
JB Kriplani came second ahead of Jawaharlal Nehru for the internal vote for the PM in the 1940s (Sardar Vallabhai Patel came first). He helped Narayan and was arrested during the Emergency.
L for the Left.
The Left helped the Janata Dal come to power in 1989. Then Jyoti Basu was certain to be PM in 1996, but the CPM party leadership declined. Basu called this a historic blunder.
M for Morarji Desai.
Denied the PM’s post by the Congress party, he defected and became the first non-Congress PM from the Janata Party in 1977.
N for Nitish Kumar.
He also carved his own party called the Janata Dal (United) and became both Central Minister and Chief Minister thanks to the BJP. In the wilderness after ditching the BJP, he is desperately trying the third Janata experiment.
O for Om Prakash Chautala.
When Devi Lal stepped down as CM, he got his son to replace him. He formed the INLD and his son again got to be CM multiple times.
P for Paswan.
Ram Vilas Paswan’s formed the breakaway Lok Janshakti Party as Bihar saw the maximum Janata factions.
Q for Queens Indira and Sonia.
While the first Janata Pariwar was dead against the powerful Indira Gandhi, the current Pariwar is still in awe of a powerless Sonia Gandhi.
R for Raj Narain.
This started it all. His court case against Indira saw her parliamentary seat cancelled which led to the Emergency which led to the Janata experiment.
S for Subramanian Swamy.
An active member of the first Janata experiment, he kept the Janata Party alive well into 2014 before finally joining the BJP.
T for Tamil Nadu.
A State which had absolutely nothing to do with the Janata experiment and the DMK/ADMK held firm through all the experiments.
U for Urs.
Devaraj Urs was a strong Congress leader who backed the first Janata experiment.
V for VP Singh.
He broke from the Congress and launched the Jan Morcha which morphed into the Janata Dal and he became PM in 1989.
W for West Bengal.
Another State which had absolutely nothing to do with the Janata experiment. It saw the Congress-Left-Trinamool in succession.
X for Xerox.
The second Janata experiment just copied the first with similar results. Another copy is underway and this time they hardly have any Lok Sabha seats to make any kind of impact.
Y for the Yadavs.
Mulayam Singh Yadav broke away to form the SP in UP while Sharad Yadav joined hands with Nitish in Bihar.
Z for (A to) Z of parties
There are 26 letters in the alphabet and there were more than 26 Janata parties though they did not take up all the alphabets…
JP, BJS, JD, JD(S), JD(U), RJD, RLD, SP, BJD, LD, BLD, BKD, INLD, LJS, SJP, SJP(R), Cong (O), Cong (R), Cong (S), Cong (Urs), Congress for Democracy, Jan Morcha, PSP, SSP, UC, Swatantra Party, Socialist Party, Samata Party… it’s a mighty long list indeed.
It’s almost sounds like an alphabet soup experiment!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.