Durable, strong leadership is what India needs, but is not what India is getting. Circumstances and the Congress Party would not allow that.
P. V. Narasimha Rao, who was named prime minister and given four weeks to form a government, is 69, recently had a heart bypass operation, did not seek re-election to Parliament and must do so soon, has been loyal the late Prime Ministers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, lacks a power base in the nation or Congress Party and offends no one. That he is also a capable veteran of important cabinet posts helps.
After the shock of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination on May 21 by a Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist, the Congress Party won 236 seats in a lower house of 511. To keep power and shut out the Hindu-extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (118 seats), Congress needs coalition support either from the leftist coalition of 55 or the National Front Alliance of former Prime Minister V. P. Singh (73). Neither is willing to form more than an issue-by-issue coalition with Congress, though neither wants the onus of forcing another election after the recent exercise attracted only 53 percent of the electorate.