Challenges to and Restoration of the Congress Systempublic distribution of food grains, land reforms and provision of house sites to the rural poor. While the ‘syndicate’ leaders formally approved this Left-wing programme, they had serious reservations about the same. Presidential election, 1969 The factional rivalry between the Syndicate and Indira Gandhi came in the open in 1969. Following President Zakir Hussain’s death, the post of President of the India fell vacant that year. Despite Mrs Gandhi’s reservations the ‘syndicate’ managed to nominate her long time opponent and then speaker of the Lok Sabha, N. Sanjeeva Reddy, as the official congress candidate for the ensuing Presidential elections. Indira Gandhi retaliated by encouraging the then Vice-President, V.V. Giri, to file his nomination as an independent candidate. She also announced several big and popular policy measures like the nationalisation of fourteen leading private banks and the abolition of the ‘privy purse’ or the special privileges given to former princes. Morarji Desai was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. V.V. Giri (1894-1980): President of India from 1969 to 1974; congress worker and labour leader from Andhra Pradesh; Indian High commissioner to ceylon (Sri Lanka); Labour Minister in Union cabinet; Governor of U.P., Kerala, Mysore (Karnataka); Vice-President (1967-1969) and acting President after the death of President Zakir Hussain; resigned and contested presidential election as independent candidate; received support from Indira Gandhi for his election as President. credit: R. K. Laxman in The TImes of India, 21 August 1969 “The Left Hook” was published after the victory of V.V. Giri, (the boxer with the garland) over the nominee of the Syndicate, represented here by Nijalingappa (on his knees). History … is replete with instances of the tragedy that overtakes democracy when a leader who has risen to power on“ the crest of a popular wave or with the support of a democratic organisation becomes a victim of political narcissism and is egged on by a coterie of unscrupulous On both the above issues serious differences emerged between him and the Prime Minister resulting in Desai leaving the government. congress had seen differences of this kind in the past. But this time both the parties wanted a showdown which took place during the Presidential elections. The then congress President S. Nijalingappa issued a ‘whip’ asking all the congress MPs and MLAs to vote in favour of Sanjeeva Reddy, the official candidate of the party. Supporters of Indira Gandhi requisitioned a special meeting of the AIcc (that is why this faction came to be known as ‘requisitionists’) but this was refused. After silently supporting V.V. Giri, the Prime Minister openly called for a ‘conscience vote’ which meant that the MPs and MLAs from the congress should be free to vote the way they want. The election ultimately resulted in the victory of V.V. Giri, the independent candidate, and the defeat of Sanjeeva Reddy, the official congress candidate. sycophants…... “The defeat of the official congress candidate formalised the split in the party. The congress President expelled the Prime Minister from the party; she claimed that her group was the real congress. By S Nijalingappa November 1969, the congress group led by the ‘syndicate’ came to be Letter to Indira Gandhi referred to as the congress (Organisation) and the group led by Indira expelling her from the Gandhi came to be called the congress (Requisitionists). These twoparty, 11 November parties were also described as Old congress and New congress. Indira 1969. Gandhi projected the split as an ideological divide between socialists and conservatives, between the pro-poor and the pro-rich. Abolition of Privy Purse In Chapter One you have read about the integration of the Princely States. This integration was preceded by an assurance that after the dissolution of princely rule, the then rulers’ families would be allowed to retain certain private property, and given a grant in heredity or government allowance, measured on the basis of the extent, revenue and potential of the merging state. this grant was called the privy purse. At the time of accession, there was little criticism of these privileges since integration and consolidation was the primary aim. Yet, hereditary privileges were not consonant with the principles of equality and social and economic justice laid down in the Constitution of India. Nehru had expressed his dissatisfaction over the mattertimeandagain.Followingthe1967elections,IndiraGandhisupportedthedemandthatthe government should abolish privy purses. Morarji Desai, however, called the move morally wrong and amounting to a ‘breach of faith with the princes’. the government tried to bring a constitutional amendment in 1970, but it was not passed in Rajya Sabha. It then issued an ordinance which was struck down by the Supreme Court. Indira Gandhi made this into a major election issue in 1971 and got a lot of public support. Following its massive victory in the 1971 election, the constitution was amended to remove legal obstacles for abolition of ‘privy purse’. 98 Politics in India since Independence She was seen not only as the protector of the poor and the underprivileged, but also a strong nationalist leader. The opposition to her, either within the party or outside of it, simply did not matter. With two successive election victories, one at the centre and other at the State level, the dominance of the congress was restored. The congress was now in power in almost all the States. It was also popular across different social sections. Within a span of four years, Indira Gandhi had warded off the challenge to her leadership Soon after the 1971 Lok Sabha elections, a major political and military crisis broke out in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). As you have read in chapter Four, the 1971 elections were followed by the crisis in East Pakistan and the Indo-Pak war leading to the establishment of Bangladesh. These events added to the popularity of Indira Gandhi. Even the opposition leaders admired her statesmanship. Her party swept through all the State Assembly elections held in 1972. The new manner of choosing cMs by Indira Gandhi inspired this cartoon.