I think the last thirty years of Indian politics and policy can be explained using the “public enemy number one” theory. It all started off with emergency, when the Congress easily became the enemy. For the elections in 1977, an alliance of non-congress parties was quickly cobbled up with the sole intention of keeping the congress out. As expected, it collapsed soon enough, and the Congress got back to power. And maintained its status.
This continued into the eighties also. Again in 1989, you had the unholy combine of the BJP and the Left getting together to support (from outside) the National Front government. In the next few years, somehow somewhere the tide turned. Within another seven years, the BJP had magically gained the enemy position. Secularism became the new mantra in Indian politics. This positioning continues to the day. And in several places, you see unholy alliances cropping up solely to keep the BJP out.
Now, one fallout of this “public enemy number one” system is that even though most people are opposed to the BJP only on it’s social agenda, they tend to oppose it in every other field. So you had the BJP which accelerated reforms during the NDA regime. And now you have all other parties (of all hues) taking steps to oppose reforms. Note that none of these parties (except maybe the left) had any problems with the BJP’s economic agenda in the first place. The only reason they are opposing the reforms is that it is endorsed by their Public Enemy Number One.
In this regard, we should be thankful that somewhere in between 1991 and 1996, the Congress lost its pre-eminent position of being the Enemy (mainly due to the Babri Masjid demolition I think; at least for this reason we should support that great event that happened on my tenth birthday). So, there were no issues with subsequent governments (the two UF governments and the two NDA governments) in following the same path. In case the Congress had remained Public Enemy Number One in 1996 also, God knows what would’ve happened with respect to the reforms.
Now comes the difficult task for me to substantiate policies of the Janata government in the late 70s and the NF govt. in 1989 which tried to counter Congress policy. For the latter, I can think of the Mandal commission implementation. The Congress, at that time, was mainly banking on upper caste Hindus, Dalits and Muslims, so the NF needed to find a base for it’s own. And someone happened to remember the old Mandal report. I was too young back then and wasn’t following politics (I wasn’t even following cricket), so I don’t know much else.
And I don’t know anything about the 77-80 Janata period. Heck, I wasn’t even born then. Can someone help me out with this, please?