The Janata Parivar in electoral politics: a timeline

Ever since the Emergency, the parties and personalities of the Janata experiment have been major and bit players in the electoral politics of India. Particularly so in the era of coalition politics in the 90s and the last decade. Here is a look at how they left their mark on elections and governments over the years.

April 15, 2015 09:02 pm | Updated January 28, 2024 12:35 pm IST

Janata Parivar leaders (from left) Nitish Kumar, H.D. Deve Gowda, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: Prashant Nakwe

Janata Parivar leaders (from left) Nitish Kumar, H.D. Deve Gowda, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: Prashant Nakwe

1975-1977: Indira Gandhi imposes the state of Emergency in India, giving her near dictatorial powers. Opposition leaders Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai are imprisoned, along with many other activists. Opposition political parties comes together and the Janata Party is formed to fight the elections in 1977. 

1977: Morarji Desai becomes Prime Minister, leading the Janata government — India’s first experiment in formation of a coalition government with the coming together of parties such as the Jana Sangh, Congress (Organisation), Congress for Democracy, Bharatiya Kranti Dal. The country sees a first non-Congress government at the Centre. The government collapses and Congress is back in power in 1980. 


Morarji Desai. Photo: The Hindu Archives 

1984: Indira Gandhi is assassinated. Her son Rajiv Gandhi leads the Congress to victory, becoming India’s youngest Prime Minister. 

1989: Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government is voted out of power following the Bofors scandal. 

1989: The formation of the National Front government by V.P. Singh, who leaves the Congress Party in the wake of the Bofors scandal. Led by the Janata Dal, regional parties such as the Telugu Desam Party, the Assam Gana Parishad, the Akali Dal and the National Conference extend outside support in a bid to marginalise the Congress. This was the first coalition government of regional parties. V.P. Singh, followed by Chandra Shekhar, are Prime Ministers in this government. 

1990: Violence and protests against the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report which gave 27 per cent reservation to Other Backward Castes in government jobs. 

November, 1990: The V.P. Singh government falls due to the withdrawal of outside support by the BJP. Chandra Shekhar, who leaves Janata Dal with his supporters, becomes Prime Minister with the support of Congress. The Samajwadi Janata Party is formed. 

1991: Congress withdraws support and elections are called. Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated during a campaign rally. After elections, a minority Congress government led by P.V. Narasimha Rao comes into power. Along with Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, the Rao government ushers in a series of liberalisation measures that open up the economy. 

1992: Babri Masjid is demolished by kar sevaks. 


Chandra Shekhar. Photo: The Hindu Archives 

1996: The BJP emerges as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha after general elections but is unable to prove majority on the floor of the House. A.B. Vajpayee’s 13-day government falls and the Congress supports a government formed by the JD along with other smaller regional parties. The United Front government comes to power led by H.D. Deve Gowda. 

1997: Congress withdraws support and the Deve Gowda government falls. To avoid calling for elections again, the Congress agrees to support a United Front government under a new leader, I.K. Gujral. Gujral’s government is marked by the Fodder Scam in which then Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav is implicated. Mr. Yadav refuses to resign and is asked by the Prime Minister to do so. The tainted leader leaves the JD and forms his own party — the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Congress withdraws support to the United Front following their refusal to drop the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam from the government and elections are called. 

1998: General Elections are held and no party gains a strong majority. The government, led by A.B. Vajpayee falls after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam withdraws support. Om Prakash Chautala forms the Indian National Lok Dal. 

1999: The National Democratic Alliance coalition forms a government along with the Telugu Desam Party and lasts a full term of five years. 

2003: The Janata Dal United (JD(U)) comes out of Samata Party created by George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar 

2004: The Congress returns to power after eight years out of office, forming the UPA government, with external support from the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Kerala Congress and the Left Front. 


Ram Manohar Lohia. Photo: The Hindu Archives 

2009 - 2014: The Third Front is launched against the economic policies of the Congress and the BJP, and committed to the cause of the agricultural, working, backward classes and women and minorities. Its members include, among others, the Janata Dal (United) and the Janata Dal (Secular), the Samajwadi Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the BSP, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). 

The two terms of the UPA government are marked with a slew of rights based social sector legislations including the Right to Information, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Right to Education, the Land Acquisition Act, the Criminal Law Amendment Act on laws relating to sexual offences and the Food Security Act. However, the UPA government is beset by allegations of corruption among its senior leaders and this period marks the rise of the Anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare and the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party.

2014: The BJP sweeps to power with a majority of 336 seats, and as a single-party majority for the first time since 1984. 

April 15, 2015: SP chief Mulayam Singh leads a new party formed after the merger of the Janata Parivar comprising the SP, the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (Secular), the Samajwadi Janata Party and the Indian National Lok Dal. 

United they stand

The new party will be the third largest bloc in the Rajya Sabha with 30 MPs

V.P. Singh formed Janata Dal on October 11, 1988, by merging the Lok Dal, the Congress (S), the Janata Party and the Jan Morcha. The Janata Dal then split into several factions.
JD(U) came out of Samata Party created by George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar

Six factions that decided to merge their identities on April 15, 2015:

Samajwadi Janata Party,
founder: Chandra Shekhar,
Year: Nov 5, 1990

Samajwadi Party,
founder: Mulayam Singh,
Year: Oct 4, 1992

Janata Dal (Secular),
founder: H.D. Deve Gowda,
Year: Jul, 1999

Janata Dal (United),
founder: Nitish Kumar,
Year: Oct 30 2003

Rashtriya Janata Dal,
founder: Lalu Prasad,
Year: Jul 5, 1997

Indian National Lok Dal,
founder: Om Prakash Chautala,
Year: Apr 29, 1998


September 3, 2015: The Samajwadi Party >exits the grand secular alliance formed earlier in April this year, and decides to contest the elections in Bihar on its own, blaming Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for a “tilt” towards Congress. The Party President announces that the Samajwadi Party will contest all 243 seats alone in the Bihar Assembly elections to be held in October 2015. Read our editorial: >Unravelling of the Janata Parivar 

November 8, 2015: The Grand Alliance secured a landslide victory to give Nitish Kumar a third term in power after decimating the BJP-led alliance in the high-stakes Assembly elections in Bihar. 

Final tally 

Grand alliance: 178 

NDA: 58 

Others: 7 

December 4, 2015: There was an attempt to resurrect the Janata Parivar with a meeting between the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party, the Indian National Lok Dal, the Janata Dal-S and the Samajwadi Janata Party. The meeting was held at Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh’s residence, but it did not produce any resuls. 

December 11, 2015: The grand success of Janata Parivar parties in the Bihar assembly elections seemed to have boosted the confidence of the leaders, who have not yet given up hopes of reviving the Janata Parivar as an alternative for the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in Karnataka. 

January 6, 2016: The former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda said that the efforts to unite various Janata Parivar parties has suffered a setback at the national level and it is not happening at the State level too. 

“I personally spoke to Janata Dal (United) State chief M.P. Nadagouda and invited him to join hands with the Janata Dal (S), but his [Mr. Nadagouda’s] response was lukewarm. He said that let the unity take place at the national level and we can think about it in the State later,” he said.

April 9, 2016: After several false starts, the parties constituting the erstwhile Janata Parivar are again on course for a merger. 

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be elected president of the Janata Dal (United) at its national executive meeting in Delhi on April 10.

He will set in motion the formalities for effecting its merger with the Ajit Singhled Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Samajwadi Janata Party, headed by Kamal Morarka, and the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), led by Babulal Marandi.

April 10, 2016: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was elected president of the Janata Dal (United), bringing to an end Sharad Yadav’s decade-old tenure as party chief after he did not seek a fourth term. 

“Humbled by party’s trust in me. Will try my best to carry Sharad Yadav’s legacy forward and I accept the new role as president of JD(U),” Mr. Kumar tweeted after his election. The National Council of the party will ratify Mr. Kumar’s election to the top post in Patna on April 23.

July 2017: Nitish Kumar decides to ally with the BJP to form the government in the State. He said he could no longer tolerate the presence of his deputy, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, against whom there are allegations of corruption. Takes oath as Chief Minister for the sixth time, this time with the BJP’s help. 

August 2022: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar parted ways with the BJP and joined hands again with the Opposition RJD. Mr. Kumar said that his party MPs, MLAs, Council members and leaders expressed their desire to snap ties with the BJP and he immediately accepted and decided to resign from his post of NDA’s Chief Minister. 

Mr. Kumar was also elected leader of the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). He then staked claim before Governor Phagu Chouhan to form the next government with the support of 164 MLAs of seven parties. Mr. Kumar would be taking oath as Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time since he first came to power in November 2005.

January 2024: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar once again parted ways with Mahagathbandhan alliance and joined hands with BJP-led NDA alliance. After submitting his resignation, Mr. Kumar said “things were not working well” for him in the Mahagathbandhan he had joined less than 18 months ago and the opposition bloc INDIA.

Talking to reporters here after submitting his resignation to Governor Rajendra Arlekar, Mr. Kumar, who is likely to form a new government with the support of the BJP, said: “If the parties which were with me earlier agree to come together, you will get to know what happens next”.

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