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National Events in March 1998

1st Mar

Bharat Ratna is awarded to Dr. A.J.P. Abdul Kalam, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, and Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi, Carnatic musician. The award is also conferred posthumously on film director Satyajit Ray, freedom fighter Aruna Asaf Ali and former Prime Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda.

2nd Mar

Announcement of the results of the general elections begins. The BJP and allies win 252 seats, the Congress(I) and allies 166, and the United Front wins 96. No party or front gets absolute majority.

4th Mar

The BJP Ministry headed by Mr. Keshubhai Patel takes charge in Gujarat.

5th Mar

A Congress(I) Ministry, headed by Mr. S. C. Jamir, is sworn in in Nagaland.

6th Mar

A Congress(I) Ministry headed by Mr. Virbhadra Singh is sworn in in Himachal Pradesh.

7th Mar

Mr. A. B. Vajpayee is elected leader of the BJP Parliamentary Party.

The Jain Commission submits the final report on Rajiv Gandhi assassination.

8th Mar

The founder-president of Al-Umma, S. A. Basha, is detained under the National Security Act.

10th Mar

The President, Mr. K. R. Narayanan, writes to Mr. Vajpayee, asking whether he is willing to form a government which would secure a vote of confidence.

Mr. B. B. Lyngdoh of the United Democratic Party is sworn in Chief Minister of Meghalaya. The 12-day-old Congress(I) Ministry has resigned following the failure of the party nominee to be elected Speaker.

11th Mar

A Left Front Ministry headed by Mr. Manik Sarkar is sworn in in Tripura.

12th Mar

The President invites leaders of the Congress(I) and the United Front for talks on formation of a government, as the BJP fails to produce proof of support of the required majority, what with the AIADMK backing out.

13th Mar

The Congress(I) and the U.F. seek time for exploring the possibility of forming a government in case the BJP fails to prove its strength.

14th Mar

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi takes over as the Congress(I) president from Mr. Sitaram Kesri.

The Pakistani diplomat, Mr. Hameed Ula Khan, is expelled for ``activities incompatible with his status as a diplomat.''

Pakistan expels the Indian High Commission Official, Mr. P. N. Nair, for ``involvement in acts of espionage and subversion.''

The AIADMK extends support to the BJP and the latter submits proof of its strength to the President. Meanwhile, the U.F. partners decide to back a Congress(I) Government.

15th Mar

Mr. Vajpayee is appointed Prime Minister. The number of MPs supporting the formation of a government by the BJP stands at 264 in a house of 539, just short of the working majority of 270. However, the President sees the figure as crossing the half-way mark as the Telugu Desam decides to remain neutral. Earlier, the Congress(I) conveys to the President its decision not to stake claim to form a government.

16th Mar

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is elected chairperson of the Congress(I) Parliamentary Party.

17th Mar

A `huge cache' of explosives is unearthed and six `hardcore' Muslim fundamentalists are arrested at Kodambakkam, Chennai.

18th Mar

The Prime Minister-designate, Mr. Vajpayee, releases the `national agenda for governance' in New Delhi. It is silent on the Ram temple issue, scrapping of Article 370 and a uniform civil code.

19th Mar

Heading a 13-party led coalition, Mr. Vajpayee is sworn in Prime Minister along with the Union Council of Ministers.

The Samajwadi Party leader, Abdul Rauf Seddiopui, is shot dead near Jadharpur village in U.P.'s Bareilly district.

20th Mar

The CPI(ML) leader, Mr. Rajesh Kumar Singh, is shot at Pandeypur village in Patna.

21st Mar

Mr. Jaswant Singh is appointed Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission in place of Prof. Madhu Dandavate, who resigned.

22nd Mar

Five Tripura State Rifles jawans are killed in an ambush by the All-Tripura Tiger Force militants near Ampura in West Tripura.

23rd Mar

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and United Front convener, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, resigns from the U.F. and decides to float a new front comprising the Telugu Desam, the National Conference and the Asom Gana Parishad.

Film actor Dilip Kumar is presented with the Nishan-i-Imtiaz (Medal of Distinction) award by the Pakistani President, Mr. Rafiq Tarar, in Islamabad.

24th Mar

Mr. G.M.C. Balayogi of the Telugu Desam is elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha as the candidate of the BJP-led Government.

Two hundred persons are killed in a tornado on both sides of the West Bengal-Orissa border. The toll includes 80 from West Bengal's Midnapore district.

A BJP-Himachal Vikas Congress Ministry headed by Mr. Prem Kumar Dhumal is sworn in in Himachal Pradesh.

25th Mar

The Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, and the Railway Minister, Mr. Nitish Kumar, present the interim budgets for 1998- 99.

28th Mar

The BJP-led Government wins the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha with 271 votes in its favour and 261 against.

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