United Front (India)

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United Front
ChairpersonChandrababu Naidu
Split fromNational Front (1988–1996)

The United Front was a coalition government of 13 political parties formed in India after the 1996 general elections.[1] The coalition formed two governments in India between 1996 and 1998. The government was headed by two Prime Ministers from Janata DalH. D. Deve Gowda, and I. K. Gujral. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party served as the convener of United Front.


The Indian general election in 1996 returned a fractured verdict. With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the largest party, with 161 of 543 seats, it was invited first to form a government. It accepted the offer, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister. However, he was unable to muster a majority on the floor of the house, and the government fell 13 days later. At a meeting of all the other parties, the Indian National Congress, with a substantial 140 seats, declined to head the government and along with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), agreed to extend outside support to a coalition with the Janata Dal at its head, named the "United Front". Other members of the front included the Samajwadi Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Asom Gana Parishad, Tamil Maanila Congress, Communist Party of India and Telugu Desam Party.

With the approval of the Congress and CPI(M), the sitting Chief Minister of Karnataka, H. D. Deve Gowda, was asked to head the coalition as Prime Minister after V. P. Singh and Jyoti Basu declined. His term was from June 1, 1996 – April 21, 1997. The Congress revoked its support to Gowda amidst discontent over communication between the coalition and the Congress. It compromised to support a new government under I. K. Gujral, who was Prime Minister from April 21, 1997 – March 19, 1998. Following the collapse of his government, fresh elections were called, and the United Front lost power.

Electoral performance[edit]

General Election Year Seats Won Position Term
1996 Indian general election
305 / 543 (56%)
Government 2 Year
1998 Indian general election
88 / 543 (16%)


Political Party 1996 1998 Seat Change
Janata Dal 46 6 Decrease 40
Samajwadi Party 17 20 Increase 3
Communist Party of India 12 9 Decrease 3
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 32 32 Steady
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 17 6 Decrease 11
Tamil Maanila Congress 20 3 Decrease 17
Asom Gana Parishad 5 0 Decrease 5
Telugu Desam Party 16 12 Decrease 4
Indian National Congress (Outside Support till 1998) 140 -
305 88


(Another United Front in Indian politics was the coalition that held two governments in West Bengal 1967–1971.)


  1. M. L. Ahuja (1998). Electoral politics and general elections in India, 1952–1998. Mittal Publications. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-81-7099-711-5. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
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