INDIA'S PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS
NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar resigned Wednesday after an incident that threatened to topple his minority government. Rajiv Gandhi, whose Congress (I) Party is the biggest in the house, helped Chandra Shekhar into office last November by offering him support - but on terms that put the government's life span at Mr. Gandhi's mercy.
Chandra Shekhar leads just 54 of the 515 current members of the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament).
Chandra Shekhar said in an angry speech that his four-month-old minority government was not a puppet of the Congress (I) Party which kept him in power.
The Congress (I) humiliated Chandra Shekhar by walking out of the parliament on Tuesday, demanding that the prime minister name the person who ordered two policemen to keep watch on Gandhi's home.
Indian President Ramaswamy Venkataraman, accepted the resignation Wednesday, though it was not clear whether new elections would be held immediately.
Chandra Shekhar was clearly outraged at the walkout, after which his Janata Dal (Socialist) party barely escaped an opposition attempt to outvote it and bring down the government.
Political analysts said the Congress (I) demand was unreasonable and were puzzled by what the party meant to achieve by the walkout.
They said they doubted that Gandhi, whose party is still showing poorly in most opinion polls, wanted to bring down Chandra Shekhar and face an early general election until later this year.
The Congress (I) Party had ruled India for most of the four decades since independence from Britain until Gandhi's defeat in an inconclusive 1989 general election.