Neither the Congress nor the BJP got a majority in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections. Congress got 140 seats and BJP got 161 seats. Being the largest party, BJP also staked claim to form the government and Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister. However, his government could not prove its majority and fell in just 13 days. After this the real political manipulation started.
All the veteran non-Congress-non-BJP leaders saw this as an opportunity and formed a united front. It included all regional parties like TDP, Samajwadi Party, DMK and CPI. This front first approached Jyoti Basu for the post of PM, but his party obstructed. Meanwhile, leaders like Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav kept laying their chessboard, but their name could not be agreed upon.
Later Chandrababu Naidu named the then Chief Minister of Karnataka HD Deve Gowda. All the parties involved in the United Front agreed on his name. The Congress, which was supporting this government from outside, also agreed in his name. In this way, on 1 June 1996, Deve Gowda became the 11th Prime Minister of the country.
Before becoming PM, Deve Gowda neither had any special intervention in the politics of Delhi nor had any special identity with the leaders of other parties. This is where the problem started. All the parties involved in the United Front and their leaders started considering Deve Gowda as easy prey and started threatening to topple the government. One of them was Lalu Yadav, who had a lot of influence in other parties as well.
Deve Gowda used to visit Bihar Bhavan: Famous writer Rashid Kidwai writes in his book, ‘There was a time when Deve Gowda had to repeatedly run to Bihar Bhawan in Delhi to save his government. But the battle was reversed. Lalu Yadav’s name came up in the fodder scam and the CBI went after him. CBI sought permission to interrogate Lalu. Lalu felt that he should meet Deve Gowda and ask for help.
When the opportunity came, Deve Gowda took the chance: Lalu Yadav kept asking for time for a 5-minute meeting with Deve Gowda, but the PMO was repeatedly told something or the other. Finally, after waiting for several days, Lalu was able to meet Deve Gowda.