Forty Years Ago, January 18, 1979: Janata Crisis Wanes

The Indian Express’ front page on January 18, 1979

The Janata Party crisis is as good as settled except for a slight hitch over giving the finance portfolio to Charan Singh. It is learnt that Prime Minister Morarji Desai does not think it would be prudent to disturb Finance five weeks before the presentation of the budget. Biju Patnaik, who is acting as an emissary, is believed to have communicated the diffidence of the PM to Madhu Limaye. who is close to Charan Singh. Charan Singh does not appear to be in a mood to make this an issue. He might be willing to assume the charge of Food and Agriculture, which may be expanded to include Irrigation. It is possible that as Deputy Prime Minister he may have an overall charge of more than one Ministry. This move may satisfy Singh even if Finance is not given to him.

State And Industry

Forceful pleas by George Fernandes and Biju Patnaik for the nationalisation of such key industries as steel, aluminium and cars marked deliberations of the national executive of the Janata party. And it is likely that the party's top policy-making body will set up a committee tomorrow to consider the proposal of the two ministers along with the overall question of checking the concentration of economic power. While Patnaik's focus was on bringing the entire private sector steel production in the public sector, Fernandes wanted nationalisation of aluminum and cars.

Satellite To Fall

Aryabhata, India's prestigious satellite launched from Sriharikota in April 1975 might "come down" any time. S Sundaram Pillai, an officer of the Indian Space Research Organisation, Bangalore, told newsmen a t the ISRO pavilion at the All-India Tourists' Trade Fair in Madras that the original life of the satellite was estimated to be only six months. But it was still in the orbit and was being tracked by the space centre at regular intervals.