Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar resigned Wednesday after less than four months in office, accusing former Indian leader Rajiv Gandhi of sabotaging the minority government.
Chandra Shekhar made the surprise announcement in a speech to Parliament after opposition members bitterly criticized him for running a "puppet" government controlled by "puppeteer" Gandhi.Gandhi, who heads the country's largest party, has made a series of ill-disguised power plays in recent weeks. His Congress Party boycotted Parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday in a dispute over alleged police surveillance of his official residence on the outskirts of the capital.
Chandra Shekhar said he asked President Ramaswamy Venkataraman to arrange for new elections, instead of trying to patch together another minority government. He said he would continue in office until new arrangements are made.
"The president has assured me that he will take a decision within 24 hours," Chandra Shekhar told reporters outside the presidential palace.
Chandra Shekhar, 63, who took office Nov. 10, had needed Congress Party support to remain in power. Without it, his party was given no chance of passing any legislation.
"This house cannot continue as an honest legislature," Chandra Shekhar said as he announced his resignation, his voice cracking. "I cannot run the government in keeping with their (the Congress Party's) behavior. Being betrayed is not bad, but to betray is bad."
Chandra Shekhar took over as prime minister after helping to engineer the downfall of V.P. Singh, the prime minister from the Janata Dal party who succeeded Gandhi in late 1989. Chandra Shekhar leads a socialist splinter faction of Janata Dal.
He told Parliament he could understand when his actions were criticized by opposition parties, but called the Congress Party's actions "irresponsible."