NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar resigned in anger Wednesday, accusing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his political party of betrayal and making new elections a virtual certainty.
Shekhar, a veteran politician but a novice in the top circles of government, served three months as head of a minority government in India, the world's largest democracy.
Gandhi, 46, who helped to get Shekhar elected as prime minister, also helped to end his term by withholding support needed to pass bills in Parliament.
Six hours after the prime minister announced his resignation, Gandhi's Congress Party declared that it wanted new elections, echoing the urgings of Shekhar and leaders of the major opposition parties.
It is up to President Ramaswami Venkataraman to decide whether to call new elections or to ask someone else to form a government. But the president, whose post is largely ceremonial, appeared to have no choice since the six largest parties in Parliament say they do not want to try to form another coalition government.
In the meantime, Shekhar said he will continue to serve as prime minister "until new arrangements are made."
New elections might again fail to determine a clear winner and leave the country with another fragile minority government like the one headed by Shekhar or that of his predecessor, Vishwanath Pratap Singh. Singh served 11 months after dislodging Gandhi in the November, 1989, elections.
Shekhar announced his resignation on the floor of Parliament with biting remarks. He had just listened to two hours of tirades by opposition members who accused him of running a puppet government whose strings were pulled by Gandhi and Gandhi's Congress Party.
"I cannot run the government in keeping with their (the Congress Party's) behavior," Shekhar said.