Examine the major issues which led to the split of Congress part in 1969.
Explain any three causes of the split in the Congress Party in 1969?
The factional rivalry between the Syndicate and Indira Gandhi came into the open in 1969. Following President Zakir Hussain’s death, the post of the President of 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 ensuring 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.
On both the above issues, serious differences emerged between Desai and the Prime Minister, resulting in Desai leaving the government.
Congress had seen differences of this kind in the past. However, this time, both 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. 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.
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.