NEW DELHI, Sept. 19 -- Indian authorities Thursday imposed direct federal rule in the western state of Gujarat after a day of pandemonium in the state's legislature in which more than two dozen lawmakers were injured. India's President Shankar Dayal Sharma dissolved the state assembly after rival factions of Gujarat's ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party violently clashed on the floor the state Parliament.
The irate members flung chairs and microphones at one another amid debate on a no confidence motion against the government. Although Chief Minister Suresh Mehta survived the motion, Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda's federal Cabinet decided to dismiss the local assembly anyway, calling the state's situation a 'constitutional crisis,' the Press Trust of India reported. The state's faction-ridden BJP unit split last month after senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela was expelled from the party on disciplinary grounds. Many other party members joined Vaghela in moving the no confidence motion in an effort to bring down the government. On Thursday, the BJP's national leaders lashed out at Deve Gowda, who belongs to the left-of-center Janata Dal party, for dismissing the Gujarat government. 'He has ditched us,' former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said. Only last week, Deve Gowda had assured the BJP no federal rule would be placed on Gujarat. Vajpayee and the BJP held power at the national level briefly in May, but resigned just 12 days later in the face of a confidence vote it was assured of losing. Deve Gowda's minority coalition assumed power immediately after the demise of the BJP government. Presently, two other Indian states, Jammu and Kashmir -- the site of a seven-year Muslim led insurgency -- and the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, are also under so-called president's rule. hsn-sln/upi