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Rajaji and the Swatantra Party



  May 01, 2024

Rajaji and the Swatantra Party


 


Who was C Rajagopalachari (Rajaji)?

C Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji, was a prominent Indian statesman and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. He was the last Governor-General of independent India and the first Indian to hold that office. Rajaji was also a close confidante and advisor to Mahatma Gandhi.

What was the Swatantra Party, and why was it founded?

The Swatantra Party was founded in 1959 by C Rajagopalachari in response to what he saw as the overly socialist policies of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The party advocated for a market-based economy and less government control, opposing Nehru's centralised planning and state-led model.

What were the core beliefs of the Swatantra Party?

The Swatantra Party believed in individual liberty, a market-driven economy, and minimal government intervention in business. It was founded on the principle that individual citizens should be free to hold property, conduct their professions, and engage in mutual agreements without excessive state interference.

Who were some notable members of the Swatantra Party?

Notable members included Minoo Masani, Piloo Mody, K M Munshi, N G Ranga, V P Menon, H M Patel, and many former royals and landlords who were influential in rural areas. The party also attracted leaders from diverse backgrounds, including those with conservative, liberal, and business-oriented viewpoints.

How did the Swatantra Party perform in elections?

The Swatantra Party saw electoral success in the 1960s, particularly in the 1962 general election where it won 18 Lok Sabha seats. In the 1967 general election, it emerged as the second-largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha with 44 seats. Its support base was especially strong in states like Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha, and Gujarat.

What led to the decline of the Swatantra Party?

The decline of the Swatantra Party began in the early 1970s, primarily due to the changing political landscape and the emergence of other political forces. The party's ideology failed to gain widespread grassroots support, and it struggled to maintain its relevance against the backdrop of Indira Gandhi's populist policies and the 1971 split in the Congress Party.

When and why did the Swatantra Party disband?

The Swatantra Party officially disbanded in 1974, fifteen years after its formation. The decision, led by party President Piloo Modi, was due to declining electoral performance and a lack of clear direction following the death of its founder, Rajaji, in 1972. The remaining members merged with the Bharatiya Lok Dal.

These FAQs highlight the key aspects of Rajaji's political career, the founding and principles of the Swatantra Party, and its impact on Indian politics during a critical period of the country's history.


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