March 16, 1980, Forty Years Ago: Lok Dal Split

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This is the front page of The Indian Express published on March 16, 1980.

Raj Narain gave clear indications of his intentions to split the Lok Dal. Addressing a crowded news conference in Delhi, Narain declared that he would at no cost leave the party. If anyone did not like his presence in it, he was free to go — and that applied to Charan Singh also. Accusing the former prime minister of authoritarianism, Narain said Singh knew no distinction between loyal workers and sycophants. Maintaining that he was still the “chairman of the parliamentary board, president of the Janata (S) and the working president of the Lok Dal”, he said Singh had no authority “either to appoint me or to sack me” from the chairmanship of the parliamentary board.

New Economic Order

Deploring the “persistent lack of equity in international economic relations” the ministerial meeting of the Group of 77 presided over by India’s external affairs minister, P V Narasimha Rao, demanded completion of decisions on a new economic order by September 11, 1981. What is now proposed is that the UN special assembly session which is to meet in August-September this year will summon UN conference on global negotiations for international economic cooperation for development beginning January 5, 1981 and conclude by September 11, 1981.

Assam Solution

The finance minister, R Venkataraman, told the Lok Sabha that he hoped a solution to the Assam problem would be found “very soon”. Venkataraman said there were several dimensions to the problem of foreigners in Assam. There was no accepted definition of a foreigner. Even if a definition was agreed upon, its application “bristles with difficulties’.’ The matter was so delicate that it was being handled personally by the prime minister, he said. The minister admitted the people of Assam were facing shortages of salt, sugar, diesel and kerosene because of transport bottlenecks. The diesel shortage was, however, the creation of the Assamese themselves.