India 1971: Strained Democracy

Archive Report

Turbulence in Politics and Society

Mirror Image of National Ills in New Election

India's 275 million voters go to the polls between March 1 and March 9 in the largest election in history. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, 53, seeking a majority in the 523-seat Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, faces an electorate as divided as it is huge. No less than 10 political groups—espousing ideologies ranging from the extreme right to the far left—are seeking power in India's fifth national election since independence in 1947. Typically, their platforms are based on the contentious issues of regionalism, caste, language and religion. Underlying these currents coursing through the subcontinent are questions vital not only to Mrs. Gandhi's ruling Congress Party and the future of the country ...

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