New Delhi — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Saturday removed Chief Minister of Gujarat state, where more than 200 people have died in a student led protest and communal violence.

An official statement said Gujarat Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki resigned and that his successor was likely to be appointed later today.

News reports said the ouster was greeted with fireworks in Ahmedabad, Baroda and other violence torn cities of the western Indian state.

The Independent Times of India newspaper said “thousands of people broke into jubilation” in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s main city and center of the student led agitation. “The entire city wore a festive look as people started bursting firecrackers as the news spread like wildfire throughout the city.”

The state already reserves 31 percent government jobs and seats in colleges for lower caste groups, and members of tribal communities.

Critics have maintained that some of the caste groups that would benefit from the new quotas in colleges and state employment are economically well off.

The agitation has degenerated into bloody street violence between Moslems and Hindus in several parts of Gujarat.

The student protest has continued despite a government announcement suspending for a year implementation of the 18 percent increase in quotas. The agitators are demanding the scrapping of all caste based reservations.

Solanki’s ouster came a day after five people were slain in new interfaith violence in Gujarat, India President Zail Singh warned that national unity was threatened by the Gujarat disturbances and by Sikhs in Punjab.

Gandhi ordered Solanki to quit late Friday after a team of party leaders he sent on a fact-finding mission reported that the chief minister’s handling of the protest sparked communal violence in the state of 36 million people.

Speaking to reporters in the state capital Gandhinagar, Solanki blamed the troubles on “forces of destabilization” which had “created a lot of hurdles for us in carrying out our programs.”


Solanki, 58, has headed the state government since 1980, the year the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi returned to power. ’

Major Indian newspapers had demanded his dismissal for his anti-press measures, including the seizure of copies of a leading Gujarati language daily and withdrawal of government advertisements in journals that were critical of him.

Reports by the Editor’s Guild of India and other prestigious press bodies said there was “official connivance” in the burning of the head office of the “Gujarat Samachar” newspaper by rebellious police.

Authorities have taken no action against thousands of policemen who deserted their duties in April and went on a rampage in Ahmedabad, attacking newspaper offices and homes and beating up women and children. The mutiny reportedly was triggered by press reports about police brutality against agitators.

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 12, 1985