Seeking Greater Power and Constitutional Change: India’s President and the Parliamentary Crisis of 1979

  • James Manor
Part of the Cambridge Commonwealth Series book series (CAMCOM)


It is highly unusual for a head of state in a Westminster system to seek to increase his own power and to generate substantial constitutional change amid a succession/dissolution crisis. The formal institutions of state and the party system are usually too stable, and even an ambitious head of state is usually hemmed in by rules and precedents which are too widely and well understood to permit any such thought. It appears, however, that in mid-1979 this is precisely what the President of India, N. Sanjiva Reddy, sought to do. To be more specific, he appears to have sought partly to achieve and partly to catalyse a major revision of the constitution which would have made the President the pre-eminent figure in the political system. He failed, but in a manner that leaves open the possibility of a revival of such attempts.


Prime Minister Party System Schedule Caste Constitutional Change Congress Party 
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  1. 1.
    See, for example, Statesman (Delhi) 12–15 and 19 July 1979.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    See for example, Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay), 7 July 1979, p. 1111, and 14 July 1979, p. 1143.Google Scholar
  3. 15.
    Lok Sabha Secretariat, Journal of Parliamentary Information, xxv, 4 (October–December, 1979) p. 537 and Hindustan Times (Delhi) 24–27 July 1979.Google Scholar
  4. 31.
    See in this regard, J. Manor, ‘Indira and After: The Decay of Party Organisation in India’, The Round Table (October, 1978) pp. 315–24.Google Scholar
  5. 40.
    See for example, V. B. Raju, ‘Correctives Needed’, Seminar (April, 1981) p. 19.Google Scholar
  6. 41.
    See in this vein, J. Manor, ‘Party Decay and Political Crisis in India’, The Washington Quarterly (summer, 1981) pp. 25–40, and ‘Parties and the Party System’ in A. Kohli (ed.) India’s Troubled Democracy (Princeton, forthcoming).Google Scholar
  7. 42.
    See J. Manor, ‘The Electoral Process amid Awakening and Decay: Reflections on the Indian General Election of 1980’ in P. Lyon and J. Manor (eds.) Transfer and Transformation: Political Institutions in the New Commonwealth (Leicester and Salem, N.H., 1983) pp. 87–116; ‘The Indian General Election of 1984’, Electoral Studies, iv, 2 (1985) pp. 149–152; and ‘Appearance and Reality in Indian Politics: The 1984 Election in the South’ in P. R. Brass and F. Robinson (eds.) The Indian National Congress: The First Hundred Years (New Delhi, forthcoming).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. A. Low 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Manor

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