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The Swatantra Party: Victory in Defeat

by H. R. Pasricha, with an Epilogue by S. V. Raju

Published by SV Raju for The Rajaji Foundation in 2002. Donations to The Rajaji Foundation are
exempt from Income Tax under Section 80G.

The Rajaji Foundation

OCRd from the hardcopy sent to me by SV Raju, and converted into Word on 13 February 2016 in the
interest of public education regarding the Swatantra Party. Sanjeev Sabhlok

Contents
DR. H. R. PASRICHA (20th Nov.1909 - 2nd Feb.1981) ............................................................................. 2
Preface .................................................................................................................................................... 3
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 5
EMERGENCE OF LIBERALISM .................................................................................................................. 7
THE SOCIALIST OPIATE .......................................................................................................................... 14
INDIAN POLITICAL PARTIES AND THE INDIAN PSYCHE ......................................................................... 18
POST-INDEPENDENCE INDIA ................................................................................................................. 27
SWATANTRAS RISE - AND FALL ............................................................................................................ 34
SWATANTRAS LEADERS ....................................................................................................................... 46
ARISTOCRATS INVASION ...................................................................................................................... 55
SWATANTRAS FAILURES ...................................................................................................................... 61
FINALE ................................................................................................................................................... 70
EPITAPH................................................................................................................................................. 87
EPILOGUE .............................................................................................................................................. 93
Appendix 1: The 21 Principles of the Swatantra Party ...................................................................... 95
Appendix II: Copy of Prof. Rangas Letter to Mr. Dahyabhai Patel ....................................................... 98
Appendix III: Copy of Mr. Dandekars Letter to Prof. Ranga ................................................................ 99
Appendix IV: Copy of Letter Addressed by Col. Pasricha to The National Headquarters in January
1970 .................................................................................................................................................... 101
Appendix V: Copy of letter addressed by Col. H. R. Pasricha to Mr. Piloo Mody through the General
Secretary of the Party, dated April 25, 1973. ..................................................................................... 105
Appendix VI: Copy of Letter from Mr. N. Dandeker to Col. H. R. Pasricha dated 5th May 1973. .. 107

1
DR. H. R. PASRICHA (20th Nov.1909 - 2nd Feb.1981)
M.B.B.S; F.R.C.S (London); (Colonel-Retd.)

Dr. Hans Raj Pasricha did his M.B.B.S in pre-Partition Lahore. His keen desire for higher studies drove
him to take a loan and proceed to the United Kingdom where he appeared for the F.R.C.S
examination. He succeeded with flying colour, securing his post-graduate qualification within nine
months of his arrival in London. He specialised in Orthopaedics, particularly hand surgery.

On his return to India he joined the Indian Army Medical Service. During the Second World War he
served in North Africa and in the then North West Frontier Province of pre-Partition India. After the
War he worked for a long time at the Kirkee Army Medical Centre at Pune.

He was among the millions of refugees who fled to India from the newly created state of Pakistan.
Because of his reputation as a doctor who provided free service to the poor, the Muslims living in his
residential area protected him from being killed in tRts4rnassacres that followed the Partition.

Dr. Pasricha retired in 1952 after 27 years in the Army. For the next ten years, he took to teaching as
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and practised as Orthopaedic Surgeon at the. Holy Family and
Gangaram Hospitals in Delhi. He gifted a considerable part of his property to the Gangaram Hospital,
where a ward is named after him.

An outspoken man with definite views, the deteriorating political and social environment in India
affected him deeply. He was a man of action and felt he must do his bit to arrest the countrys
downward slide. He was a liberal by conviction and it was therefore hardly surprising when, in 1960,
he joined the newly formed Swatantra Party. He was nominated Treasurer of the Delhi Unit of the
Swatantra Party by Sardar Bahadur Lal Singh who was then the Units President. When Lal Singh
stepped down due to poor health, Dr.Pasricha was elected in his place as President which position
he held for a number of years. He was a member of the Swatantra Partys General Council and of its
National Executive.

The story of the second upsurge of liberalism and its early eclipse after a brief career must be told in
some detail. This is what this little volume is about. HR Pasricha.

2
Preface
This is the story of the Swatantra Party as told by Col. H. R. Pasricha1 who, during the Partys
existence at the national level, was a member of its General Council, the National Executive and
president of the Partys Delhi branch.

This is a first person narrative by a member of the Party interpreting the events as he understood
them. It is not a scholarly treatise though scholars may find in it useful insights into the travails a
liberal party has to face, in a country where half the population is illiterate and an equal number live
below the poverty line.

When Col. Pasricha gave me the manuscript of this book, the Swatantra Party had already started
tottering, led by a leadership who, in their quest for instant power, chose to forget the purpose that
had led its founders C. Rajagopalachari and Minoo Masani to establish the party in the first
place. Col. Pasrichas narration explains more than adequately what that purpose was and how it
was jettisoned.

Sometime in 1971, soon after the Swatantra Partys humiliating defeat (a fate shared by other
parties in the opposition as well, in an election that was characterised as being affected by an Indira
Wave), Col. Pasricha wrote to me more or less to the effect that he felt that the end of the Party
was near and he would like to write a book on the Swatantra Party as seen by an insider. He wanted
my help in providing him with factual data in writing this book. I said I would be glad to help which I
did to the extent possible.

In 1976 he gave me the manuscript with a request that Minoo Masani and I should examine it
critically and give him our unbiased opinion. The analyses, the opinions and the conclusions, he
made it clear, were his alone but could we examine it from a factual point of view? Both Masani and
I readily agreed. This was during the so-called Emergency imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. And here
I must confess that I took it easy believing that even if I returned it to him he would not be able to
publish it because of censorship regulations then in force. In 1977, soon after the Emergency had
been lifted and Mrs. Gandhi soundly defeated, he reminded me about the manuscript and said that
he wished to have it published as soon as possible. For one reason or another I procrastinated and it
was only in 1979 that I returned the manuscript suggesting some factual changes and with our
opinion on some of his views which were for his eyes alone and hence not revealed here. He was,
understandably, quite upset with me over the delay and admonished me in typical Col. Pasricha
style! Thereafter I did not hear from him. In 1980 I took up employment overseas. In 1981 a letter
from a friend in India informed me that Col. Pasricha had passed away.

Some eighteen years later on November 23, 1999, at a symposium in New Delhi, his brother Mr. K. L.
Pasricha who was participating in the programme, handed over to me a packet containing the
manuscript of his brothers book. He told me how it came to be with him and wanted to know if I
would be still interested in getting it published. He told me that in the last years of his life Col.
Pasricha had suffered a paralytic stroke and had moved to Goa to live with their sister. He said his
brother regretted the fact that his book had not seen the light of day and hoped that it would be

1
Dr. H.R. Pasricha and Col. H.R. Pasricha are used interchangeably.

3
published some day. I took this as Col. Pasrichas last wish and recalling his admonition, I was
determined to make amends and do my best to get it published. I took it back to Bombay promising
Mr. K. L. Pasricha that I would read it and get back to him. Even so it would be another two years and
a reminder from him before I took up the task seriously. These circumstances explain why the
manuscript took almost 25 years to get published.

However the lapse of time has not robbed this book of its topicality. Col. Pasrichas observations
about politics, politicians and political parties are as valid today as when he first wrote them. If
anything, the situation has worsened. Perhaps the one major change is the end of one-party
dominance and the emergence of coalition governments at the centre not very different from the
multi-coalition governments, the notorious Samyukta Vidhayak Dal (SVD) that came up in UP and
Haryana in the late sixties. Public character and morality, already low when he commented sadly on
their decline, have now become non-issues. Those who talk about values like honesty and integrity
are viewed as being quixotic if not stupid idealists.

In a letter to Mr. K. L. Pasricha, his sister Ms. Prem Pasricha writes that Col. Pasricha was very keen
that his book should be published. We are happy that we have been able to fulfil her brothers wish.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. K. L. Pasricha for having preserved his brothers manuscript all
these years. One other person who encouraged me to go ahead and promised support was Mr. D. N.
Patodia. My grateful thanks to him.

This book would not have seen the light of day had it not been for generous contributions from
former members of the Swatantra Party. To all of them our sincere thanks.

Mumbai,

July 17, 2002 S. V. Raju

4
Introduction
Any student of Indian politics would do well to cleanse his mind completely of all Western political
notions, idioms and norms. India has her own norms and ideas, which defy all Western conceptions.
Social fragmentation resulting from the heterogeneity of religions, languages and castes has
produced a baffling tangle of interests which clash perpetually with each other. Any attempt to
reduce these innumerable, intertwining, conflicting interests to any kind of order or system would
prove to be a most frustrating undertaking.

These clashing, conflicting interests, in complete disregard of their previous positions, combine and
separate and combine again in a kaleidoscopic manner giving the whole prospect a farcical tone,
while the prime movers themselves remain quite oblivious of the grotesque figures they cut.

This is the melancholy story of the second liberal organization that came into existence in India. Its
aim was to counteract and neutralize the opiate of socialism which the Congress Party had been
prescribing as the cure for the ills afflicting our illiterate electorate and aimed at establishing a
constitutional dictatorship. Swatantra was the first frail boat that courageously braved the raging
sea of socialism. It hoped to open the eyes of the people of India to the risks and dangers of the type
of socialism practiced by the Congress Party. Those risks have now become only too evident even to
the common man. An anguished cry has gone up against rampant corruption in high places. The
much vaunted socialist economy which was to usher in the millennium failed miserably; production
declined year by year, while grandiose, capital intensive industrial plants swallowed more and more
money giving little in return.

Meanwhile, 30 years of constitutional dictatorship by the Congress Party has all but destroyed our
Constitution and the human rights and safeguards enshrined therein. It was well on the way to
metamorphose itself into a full-fledged dictatorship, had it not been for a Himalayan miscalculation
by the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru.

The story told in this little volume however deals with a period in the sixties when an attempt was
made to stem the tide of advancing authoritarianism. In framing this story, I have not had the
privilege of access to the official records of the party. I have relied mainly on my.own k7twledge and
observations in my capacity as a member of the National Executive of the party the highest
executive body of the party and my position as president of the Delhi Swatantra Party. I have
picked the brains of Mr. S. V. Raju, our very able and helpful Executive Secretary, and drawn material
from his paper on the Swatantra Party published in the Journal of Constitutional and Parliamentary
Studies (Vol.V, No.4, October-December 1971).

Consequently, I make no apologies for the frequent use of the first person singular; it is inevitable. I
must also apologise in advance to all those who might feel that their tender toes have been trodden
upon heavily. The intention was not to hurt or humiliate, but to tell the story truthfully as I saw it.

The story of the Swatantra Party depicts the heroic effort made by some wise men to establish
Indian politics on broad, liberal lines weaning it away from the perverted socialism of the Congress
Party. Unfortunately, they did not succeed in attracting to their fold a devoted, dedicated, second
rung leadership. The vision of those who came forward was too circumscribed to enable them to
discern the grand design of the top leadership and its vital importance to the nation. The visionaries

5
of the Swatantra Party failed to realize that political parties attract bees but also flies which spoil and
are more concerned with fortifying their own position and power than the nation.

Small men lack humility and are inclined to be paranoid.

One word of explanation to counteract any unwitting impression likely to be conveyed in what
follows that an unwarrantably high standard of social Morality and political rectitude has been laid
for measuring the performance of the persons involved in this story. One is not unmindful of the fact
that impractical moral standards lead only to hypocrisy. Human beings are greys, neither white nor
black. Virtue, in fact, rarely stands by itself; it needs the support of vice as gold needs the support of
baser metals to become durable. Base motives, it is realized, are quite often responsible for progress
in human affairs. The criterion adopted here is that questionable motivations must not become the
sole criterion of human conduct; the vital interests of society and country must remain paramount.
Any conduct not in the best interests of the country or the nation, howsoever beneficial from the
personal point of view, cannot but be regarded as unbecoming and unpatriotic. Indian history
records countless examples where base motives of mutual hatred and hostility; corruption and
money-grabbing sold away national interests. History must not repeat itself; society must take good
care of that. It would be a woeful tragedy if, on account of government misrule and the bad example
of corrupt ministers and officials, the Indian people lose faith in democracy, and the nation, out of
sheer disgust, slides into the clutches of a dictatorship much worse than it has known before the
clutches of a communist moloch.

In fact, the Emergency and all that transpired is vindication of the fears expressed by the Swatantra
Party and the repeated warnings of its leadership, the path followed by the Congress inevitably leads
to dictatorship.

I must express my grateful thanks to Mr. M. R. Masani, for kindly going through the manuscript and
suggesting changes where necessary. Much more is due to him for the magnanimous way he
accepted whatever I have written about him. That is a measure of his greatness. My thanks are also
due to Mr. S. V. Raju whom I have mentioned before for the many ways in which he has given his
generous help in the preparation of the manuscript.

New Delhi,

August 15, 1979. HR Pasricha

6
EMERGENCE OF LIBERALISM
Liberal ideas and free institutions did not develop as a result of a sudden upsurge; the process was
evolutionary long and laborious. England was the first country in Europe where a relatively free
society emerged in the beginning of the fourteenth century. Until then, society was feudal. The
impetus for this development was provided by the gradual build-up of economic forces. Agriculture,
the basic industry of the country, slowly developed into its commercial phase. The growth of
commerce produced large commercial magnates who in their turn, with the help of accumulated
capital, industrialized the country. King Henry VIII is supposed to have hurried the process of
development of commercial agriculture by his usurpation of vast church lands.

Increasing industrialization led to the rise of Capitalism. The governments of the day, helped by
prevailing ideas of laissez faire veered towards a democratic system. The two were accepted as parts
of the same process. The peasant, the basic factor in this process of development, was also
developing his own political ideas. The main thrust of his political efforts coincided with that towards
Capitalism or political democracy2. Capitalism and Western democracy combined with each other.

With the growth of liberal ideas and the movement asserting individual rights gathering momentum,
a reaction against feudalism was inevitable, and it appeared in the form of Liberalism which
demanded wider public participation in governmental policies discussion and voting liberty and
peoples rights. It was a protest against domination by aristocrats and the landed classes. In the East,
the same development took place in Japan after the Meiji restoration the protest of smaller
landlords against domination by Meiji aristocrats and the financial oligarchy.

Liberalism

According to Harold Laski (Rise of European Liberalism), the creative centre was France where it
followed the French Revolution. though the English Civil War also played a role. The evolutionary
process was, however, no different. Control of politics by the landed aristocracy came to be shared
by men in trade, commerce and industry. The banker, the trader and the manufacturer replaced the
landlord. A new philosophy Liberalism came up to offer a rational justification for the New
World.

The evolution of Liberalism was made possible because of contributions from diverse people with
different ideas and even conflicting aims.

Liberalism sought to vindicate the right of the individual to shape his own destiny unfettered by
authority of any kind. It became a natural opponent of class privilege or privilege conferred by birth.
It opposed unlimited power in the hands of the State.

To that end, it sought to limit political authority, confine the business of government within a
framework of constitutional principles. Without clearly realizing its significance, it stumbled on the
principle of safeguarding the right to property the basis of all other freedoms. It advocated
representative self-government even when it involved universal suffrage. It guaranteed free
association and recognized the special needs of the minorities. It was suspicious of the control of

2
Barrington Moore Jr., Social origins of dictatorship and democracy. Page 6.

7
thought, and indeed of any effort by government authority to impede the free activity of the
individual.

In the Nineteen Thirties, the tide of socialism ran high. It was considered as the magic solution to
solve all problems, political as well as those of public welfare. Liberalism took a back seat. After forty
years of experimentation with socialism, new vistas opened up with the realization that socialism
solves no problems. It merely taxes the earning members of the society to support non-earning
ones, robbing Peter to pay Paul and encouraging the disinclination to work even among the able-
bodied. Even this has led to serious problems in West European welfare states, The whole system is
now creaking under the incubus of welfare payments. New philosophers with new ideas about
socialism are coming up and making themselves heard.

Gluckmann in Paris Master Thinkers exploring the roots of the modern philosophy of order
developed by Fichte, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche in the nineteenth century holds them responsible
for creating the concept of a human science by which modern states control their citizens and for
inventing the idea of ultimate revolution sweeping away the past to permit brainwashing of the
people in the name of a brave new world.

Bernard-Henry-Levy (Barbarism with a Human Face) observed that Marxism is the opium of the
people.

They concluded with some bitterness that in Socialism lay the seeds of totalitarianism.

Democracy in India

Indian society has always lacked the impulse towards a free society; it is caste-ridden with lapidary
privileges for each class laying down insurmountable obstacles to the free association of individuals.
In the past, India reached a high degree of civilization and affluence through commerce and industry,
but the love of liberty and free institutions was hardly noticeable. Village society was an obstacle to
rebellion, steeped as it was in superstition, ignorance and casteism. Poor, wasteful, inefficient
cultivation kept the peasant half-starved, heavily in debt and politically docile. The landlord class
evinced no interest in the development of land, but an exploiter of peasant labour without making
any contribution worth the name. Political institutions of the time provided no encouragement
towards economic freedom or political freedom. Democracy in India cannot be said to have evolved
from the grass roots. In such a context, it cannot be denied, that the spirit of liberty and passion for
free institutions was inspired by Western education British rules greatest gift to India.

Democratic virtues, ideas of liberty, freedom and social justice take a long time to sink in antsfructify
in a soil unused to such cultivation. The public mind is still feudal in India with only a thin veneer of
democratic thought. India has had a long tradition of authoritarianism despite the talk about
Panchayati Raj, which really consisted of village elders and generally based on caste with the higher
castes predominating a point often made by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar who was extremely suspicious of
Panchayati Raj for this very reason .

Public life is still weak in India because of lack of discipline and selfish, self-assertive and centrifugal
tendencies based on local and sectarian loyalties.

8
India lived under one autocracy or another till the advent of the British in the country. The last of the
many conquerors to invade India before the British were the Mughals. Mughal autocracy was at its
height during the reign of Akbar (1556-1605), a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The
fundamental features of Indian polity at that time were a sovereign who ruled absolutely, an army
that supported the throne and a peasantry that supported both.

The system of assigning the revenue of a village or a group of villages as emoluments for services
rendered by the Mughal Imperial Service, put the village economy at the mercy of the aristocrats.
Cultivation was poor, inefficient and wasteful. The peasantry remained politically backward,
submissive, believing in Karma and re-incarnation.

The Imperial Service system did not permit inheritance of office and each generation had to make a
fresh start.3 On the death of the office-holder, the wealth returned to the Imperial Treasury. A
number of noble families did continue to exist among the conquerors, yet confiscation at death took
place often enough to render accumulation of wealth a hazard. The motive was not to permit
anyone to become powerful enough to challenge the ruler.

Risks of accumulation of wealth and barrier to its transmission to successors put a tremendous
premium on display.4 The Emperor set the example and the court followed. Bernier, the French
traveller, quoting officials of Jehangirs time wrote: Why should the neglected state of land create
uneasiness in our minds? And why should we spend our money and time to render it fruitful? We
may be deprived of it in a single moment, and our exertions would benefit neither our children nor
ourselves. Let us draw from the soil all the money we can, though the peasant should starve or
abscond and we should leave it, when commanded to quit, a dreary business.

The dynamics of the Mogul system was thus unfavourable to the development of political
democracy or economic growth. There was, therefore, a complete absence of even a semblance of a
revolutionary urge

Pax Britanica (1859-1947)

When the sepoys mutinied in 1857 (described by some historians as Indias War of Independence),
both Hindus and Muslims naturally turned towards the ancient capital of India. The Mogul Empire,
however, was so decadent by then that it could not be re-established. The military re-conquest of
India followed. For the sober reflective Indian, British rule became a blessing from one point of view.
It gave India, political unity which it had not known for a long time. India was far from being a nation
in the nineteenth century. In fact, even the notion of geographical unity existed only in the
imagination of some. She had all or most of the basic elements required for the making of a nation,
but the cementing material required was supplied by the British. The advent of railways and other
modern means of communication Permitted countrywide travel for the first time facilitating the
coming together of educated Indians. Slowly, a national Press came into existence.

Narrating the experience of his journey in 1868 from Calcutta to Bombay, a Bengali wrote: Without
acquaintanceship, there is a sort of freemasonry among the educated Indians which dispenses with

3
Barrington Moore Jr., Page 319, Vide Supra.
4
B. M. Page 320-Vide Supra.

9
the ceremony of introduction and disposes them to be friendly to one another wherever they
happen to meet5.

When the Maharaja of Patiala visited Calcutta in 1871, an address was presented to him on behalf
of Bengali and Punjabi residents of Calcutta which praised him for his enlightened and successful
administration and expressed the hope that his visit to Bengal might serve as a lasting link between
the Bengali and the Punjabi sprung from the same Aryan stock, proud of the same ancient traditions
and animated by the same fervent loyalty as attachment to Her Gracious Majesty, the Queen of
Britain... .

British rule also brought forth ideas of economic nationalism. Notice was taken of the increasing
pauperization of India, ruination of her industry and trade and a steady drain of Indian capital and
sacrifice of Indian interests for the benefit of British capitalists. The complaints came from both
Indians and Englishmen in India, then called Anglo-Indians6 . Among the Indians could be mentioned
names of men like Bankim Chandra, Dadabhai Naoroji, Mahadev Govind Ranade and Gopal Krishna
Gokhale among others.

First Steps Towards Self-Government

Lord Ripons Viceroyalty laid the foundations of municipal or local self-government in India. He was a
liberal, and there was a liberal government in power in England at that time. A great deal more was
expected of him, but he was not always supported by Lord Hartington who was the Secretary of
State. In December 1881, Ripon suggested to Hartington the advisability of introducing a
representative element into the Legislative Councils in India by allowing a certain proportion of their
members to be elected by municipalities of larger towns. On the 18th of May 1882, Ripon issued a
resolution in which he wished to see effect being given to the principle of local self-government
throughout British India. It is not primarily with a view to improvement in administration, he said,
that this measure is put forward and supported. It is chiefly desirable as an instrument of political
and popular education. In the beginning, there would be doubtless many failures, but if officials
accepted the policy loyally and set themselves to foster sedulously the small beginnings of
independent political life ..7 .

Indian National Congress

Founded by Allan Octavian Hume in 1885, the Congress had predecessor political bodies. In 1838,
Theodore Dickens, a barrister and British planter, inaugurated the Landholders Society. He called it
the first society in India with a political object.

On July 18, 1841, the British India Society was formed. It represented the first attempt at organized
agitation. Several other bodies merged into it.

The First Session of the Indian National Congress was held in December 1885, in the Gokuldas Tejpal
Sanskrit College in Calcutta. According to an eyewitness8, the most remarkable thing about the first

5
Indian Daily News, 15th February 1871.
6
J. C. Geddes Our Commercial Exploitation of Indian Population, Calcutta Review, 1872-73, Vol.iv-vi,
Nos.110, 112, pp.340-81).
7
Resolution of Government of India, 18.5.1882, No.17/747/59.
8
correspondent of Rais and Rayyat, 18.1.1886.

10
Congress was the moderation, the earnestness, the practicality and the loyalty that characterized
the proceedings. Mr. W. C. Bannerjee presided. Bombay was represented by Mehta, Telang and
Naoroji. The solitary Briton was A. O. Hume father of the Congress.

The early leaders were intensely loyal to the Crown and expressed their adherence to the British
Empire in fervent language. They desired a closer association between the government and the
people, extension of representative institutions and eradication of injustice and corruption. They
called themselves moderates, but they firmly believed in liberal political principles. Liberalism was
their creed.

The subsequent history of the developing political struggle in the country is a long story of gradual
decline of the influence of liberal leadership in the Congress; the rise of extremism till the split at the
Surat Congress; and the emergence of B. G. Tilak and M. K. Gandhi as powerful leaders the result
of lack of response by the British bureaucracy to the reasonable demands of the moderate elements.
British intransigence, in other words, helped the demise of the liberal elements in the Congress and
the rise of political extremism. In partial vindication of this conclusion, it can be pointed out that the
fourth and fifth sessions of the Congress were presided ovel. by British sympathizers of Indian
aspirations. Mr. George Yule presided at the Allahabad Session just when the ruling community was
becoming increasingly hostile to the Congress. The Fifth Session of the Congress at Bombay was
presided over by Sir William Wedderburn who had consistently sympathized with Indian aspirations.
Mr. Charles Bradlaugh, M.P. was present at this Session and ag9reed to sponsor a bill in Parliament
about Indian Council reform.9

By the time the Eighth Session was held at Allahabad in December 1892, Mr. G. K. Gokhale had
emerged as a prominent liberal leader. He was an important exponent of reason in public life and
liberalism as the basis of a modern democratic welfare state10. Initially, he had been treated as an
enemy by the government and followed by police spies, but was later recognized as a political
moderate. He believed that the Indian connection with Britain was providential and advised his
countrymen to accept it without any reservation. In fact, the Indian National Congress, in its early
years, revealed a profound sense of gratitude for the blessings of British rule and concerned itself
only with demanding reforms like the employment of Indians in public services, the inclusion of a
representative element in the legislative councils, and the like. The Ninth Session of the Congress
held at Lahore in 1893 was presided over by Dadabhai Naoroji, fresh from his election to the House
of Commons. In his presidential remarks, he warned the government against driving the educated
Indians into opposition. This Congress represented the aristocracy of intellect and the new political
life created by themselves. Till then, there was no element of confrontation or hostility. On the
contrary, gratitude for the creation of an educated class was emphasized.

The Thirteenth Session, (December 27, 1897) met at Brar under the terrible tragedy of floods,
famine, plague and earthquake. Sankaran Nair presided. In Poona, two Europeans, Messrs. Rand and
Ayrat were killed for excesses committed by them. A regime of repression ensued. The Natu
brothers were imprisoned without trial. Tilak and two editors of vernacular papers were tried and
imprisoned under the Press Act. Despite all these repressive measures, Lord Curzon who was soon to

9
S. R. Mehrotra, The Emergence of the Indian National Congress.
10
Gokhale and Modern India, ed. A. B. Shah.

11
emerge as Indias bitterest enemy, was welcomed and hope was expressed that he would govern in
the best British traditions.

At the Fifteenth Session (December 27, 1899) at Lucknow, President Romesh Chander Dutt defined
for the first time the objective of the Congress as the promotion by constitutional means the interest
and well being of the people of the Indian Empire. Curzons Viceroyalty turned out to be
devastatingly repressive. The offensive Official Secrets Acts was passed and Bengal was partitioned.
Despite all this, Sir Henry Cotton presided over the Twentieth Session of the Congress at Bombay. At
the Session in Calcutta in 1906, Dadabhai Naoroji, now in his eighty second year, presided. Lord
Curzons repressive measures had given a big impetus to the rise of mighty forces of nationalism.
The partition of Bengal had aroused strong resentment in the country. At this remarkable Session,
thtalaging but dynamic president gave to the country the inspiring slogan of Swaraj. He claimed for
Indians in India the control of government that the British had in Great Britain.

The slide to extremism had begun and would gather momentum rapidly. Tilak, embittered, had been
released from jail. He declared that Swaraj could not be won by begging as the moderates were
doing all along. He gave the slogan, Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it! Trouble began at the
Surat session (December 1907). Before the session began, rumours were set afloat that four
important resolutions passed at the previous Session including two relating to self-government on
colonial pattern and the boycott of foreign goods were not going to be re-affirmed. Maharashtrain
delegates were insistent that they be reaffirmed. Tilaks amendment to get Lela Lajpatrai elected
president was ruled out and that started the trouble. Unruly elements mobbed the platform. A
heavy shoe was hurled and it hit Sir Pherozeshah Mehta and Mr. Surendranath Bannerjee. The
meeting had to be adjourned sine die.

At the next Session held at Madras, Dr. Rash Behari Bose was elected President. The Surat incident
was treated as a tragic interlude. The Congress continued to be guided by the moderates. The
Congress Constitution was amended. Article 1 of the Constitution clarified that the object of the
Indian National Congress was the attainment of a system of government enjoyed by-the self-
governing members of the British Empire and equal in terms with those members. The Minto-
Morley Reforms were welcomed. The First World War broke out in August 1914. At the Twenty
Ninth session of the Congress, the President, Bhupendra Nath Basu welcomed the dispatch of Indian
expeditionary forces to the war front and expressed the pride felt by Indians in the recognition of
their share in the defence of the Empire.

The Congress run by the moderates after the Surat split could not keep pace with the strong
nationalist forces released by the war. A vigorous movement was required to enforce the demand
for self-government. The old guard represented by Naoroji, Gokhale, Pherozeshah Mehta, Surendra
Nath Bannerjee, Pandit Malaviya and others who had made great contributions to the awakening of
national political consciousness, had either retired or were averse to leading a dynamic militant
movement for wresting self-government from unwilling hands. Tilak who was released from jail,
stepped in the vacuum and Dr. Annie Besant followed. Throughout 1915, attempts were made to
find a compromise between the moderates in charge of the Congress and Tilak and his nationalist
adherents who kept aloof from the Congress. The Congress met in 1915 in Bombay and suitably
amended its Constitution to permit Tilak to join it. M. K. Gandhi, who was just coming into

12
prominence, was defeated at the Subjects Committee meeting and had to be nominated by the
President.

Montagues Announcement of British Policy

On 20th August, 1917, Mr. Montague announcing the policy of the British Government said: The
policy of His Majestys Government with which the Government of India are in complete accord is
that of increasing association of Indians in every branch of administration and the gradual
development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible
government in India as an integral part of the British Empire. They have decided that substantial
steps should be taken in this direction as soon as possible.

The moderate elements in Indian politics rallied and felt satisfied. Even Mrs. Besant who had earlier
denounced the Montague scheme supported it. During Christmas 1917, in Calcutta, Dr. Besant
expressed grateful satisfaction over the pronouncement made by His Majestys Secretary of State for
India on behalf of the Imperial Government that its object is the establishment of responsible
government in India....

In 1919, the moderates, wanting to accept the reforms and not grumble, realized that the Congress
was no place for them. There was a new spirit of freedom abroad in the country released by War
and Martial Law atrocities in the Punjab. The new struggle was being waged for self-determination.
A more dynamic leadership was demanded by the new spirit. The moderates dropped out and
formed a separate organization The Liberal Federation. With the departure of the moderates,
liberalism received its first setback; it receded, leaving the field clear for the extremists.

Triumph of Extremism

Hot climates are prone to raise passions easily, and mass thought careens towards impatience and
extremes of action. The public had awakened to political consciousness. The return of the First
World War veterans who had shed blood for the defence of the Empire fired new aspirations of
freedom for their country. Public opinion took to extremes of views and lent support to the new
leadership. M. K. Gandhi, with his freshly won reputation in South Africa assumed the leadership and
was heartily welcomed. At Nagpur, in December 1920, he had his programme of noncooperation
reaffirmed, despite the opposition of C. R. Das. Soon, he became the sole director of the Congress.

The spirit of co-operation was, however, not dead; it reasserted itself as the Swarajist movement
when the Congress entered the Legislative Assemblies created under the Montague-Chelmsford
Reforms.

Demand for Independence

The Lahore Congress (1930) is a big landmark in the struggle for independence. Jawaharlal Nehru
presented the main resolution by which complete independence became the goal of the Congress.
Extremism triumphed amidst scenes of wild enthusiasm. Liberalism died for the time being. It was to
remain dead or dormant for a long time to come.

13
THE SOCIALIST OPIATE
Socialism and communism twin sisters have one great advantage over all other isms in that
their appeal is widespread, almost universal because they promise everything to have-nots as their
right and privilege and not as fruits of honest labour. Little wonder that vast masses get easily
beguiled into the belief that their turn had arrived and they would be able to get all that they had
missed. Once in power, communists extracted work out of the workers and peasants like a slave-
driver. That face of a slave driver was, however, kept concealed from the people. The public image
cleverly built was that the Communist State was for the proletariat.

Hot climates also discourage and preclude hard labour. The attraction of communist or socialist
creeds for Indians needs no elaborate explanation. It is reinforced by traditions of absolutism, which
held sway in India for ages.. The upper classes still expect free service from the lower classes as their
right and the lower classes follow their example as much as they can. It is a legacy from the past. In
old, autocratic days, everyone who got close to the court of the ruler, expected a sinecure and quite
often got it. To an extent, this explains the extraordinary popularity of princes in India.

M. K. Gandhi won freedom for India through his leadership, but did not last long to guide the new
government. But he left behind a successor, Mr. Nehru, who, as an avowed socialist, leaned heavily
towards communism. To be fair to Mr. Nehru, it must be said that probably he was in a great hurry
to build the country, to build it up industrially and socialist modes and methods appeared to him the
only ones that promised quick results.

It took nearly sixty years, for the fountainhead of communism, Moscow, to wake up to the hard and
disappointing realization that their methods are no guarantee of quick development; that slave-
driving is no substitute for the willing cooperation of the people. The peasant refuses to be
regimented, and, if driven, responds by not producing enough. After half a century of communist
benevolence, the Soviet Union continues to import grain from capitalist countries.11

However, promises of the benefits and privileges of a socialist regime appealed naturally to the vast,
starving masses of India who fell into the error of imagining that the new dispensation would shower
all the desired benefits on them and that hard work was no longer necessary. As much as you can
get, for as little as possible! The magic wand of state planning was waved to lull people into the
belief of a new life of ease and plenty. This pleasing socialist propaganda was swallowed, hook, line
and sinker by the country.

Planning on grandiose scale ordained the building of huge steel plants and high dams styled as
Indias New Temples. They were proudly displayed to all foreign visitors. Pride swallowed caution
and simple calculation. The time required for the completion of money drinking projects lengthened
each year and simultaneously costs rose by leaps and bounds. While scarce capital was rapidly
swallowed up by the gigantic industrial schemes, agriculture remained neglected. Meanwhile, the
population jumped up by millions each month causing frightful food shortages, which had to be
made good by buying or begging abroad.

As industrial activity increased in the urban areas, an exodus from the villages started flooding the
towns with jobless villagers with hardly any skills compounding slum and health problems. It took

11
This was written in 1979. The Soviet Union collapsed 10 years later with the demolition of the Berlin Wall.

14
fifteen years for disenchantment to seep into the drugged Indian mind. By this time, there was no
way out of the mess created by the thoughtless policies of the past; there was no magic wand which
could be waved to put things right. The only remedy the Congress party could offer was bigger and
bigger doses of statism which was slowly creeping up to take the place of socialism. The Insurance
companies were nationalized, industry controlled through an elaborate system of licenses, permits
and quotas. The State became a trader when it set up the State Trading Corporation, and road
transport was taken over by state governments. The government octopus gripped industry
completely and was now ready to be milked to help the Indian National Congress or the Congress
Party finance its election campaigns.

The elaborate system of licences, permits and quotas enabled the industrialist and the businessman
to make black money, which was then squeezed out by the ruling party to fight elections, The
scheme was ingenious. Money from the rich and votes from the poor was the slogan. No opposition
could stand against such heavy odds. In fact, there was no opposition. Whatever there was the
Communist Party of India and the miscellaneous socialist parties of sorts merely flogged the
Congress horse to further socialist goals. One-party Congress government was firmly established in
India.

By 1959, the sorely felt need for a genuine opposition party to check the runaway socialist horse of
the Congress party, compelled clear thinking men to come together and band themselves into a new
opposition party. It took the name of the Swatantra Party a Sanskrit word which comes closest to
the word freedom. Minoo Masani explained the meaning of the word wrote in an article in Life
magazine: Swatantra ...is a beautiful concept. It is something more than mere freedom in English. It
does mean freedom, but it also means something more. The best translation would be self-
propelled, self-motivated, self determined, that is the decision comes not from coercion from
outside but by decision from within. It is the individual counterpart of national self-determination. In
that sense it is the epitome of the liberal idea.

The ruling Congress took the challenge seriously and invented various derogatory adjectives for the
party Rich mans party, Princes Party, etc. The foundation of the party, however, rested solidly on
well-accepted principles of Liberalism. A brief statement of its fundamental principles (Twenty One
Principles, discussed in greater detail later), would be sufficient to bear out the claim.

It believed in social justice for all, but, according to its conviction, progress, welfare and the
happiness of the people depended on individual initiative, enterprise and energy. It did not believe
in state controls and statism. A stable democracy, it maintained, must be based on the sanctity of
the Constitution and the maintenance of the fundamental rights enshrined therein which includes
the right to property the most fundamental right of all. According to established principles of
liberalism, it believed in freedom of speech, association and dissent. It opposed the state entering
the sphere of trade and industry which, by combining political and economic power, leads to
dictatorship. The party warned the people against acquisition of more and more power by the
government through a succession of amendments to the Constitution contracting freedoms. For
example, its election manifesto issued in 1972 at the time of the Assembly elections clearly stated:
The Constitution of India is the first casualty on the specious plea that provisions of the Constitution
stand in the way of fulfilling electoral promises! In other words, electoral promises superseded the
Constitution. The manifesto added that the ruling Congress has improperly utilized its majority to

15
push through several amendments to the Constitution and warned against the 24th and 25th
amendments by which all fundamental rights and not only the right to property, could be virtually
abolished.

Earlier, in its 1971 election manifesto on the eve of general elections to Parliament, the Swatantra
party called upon the people of India to reject and defeat the ruling Congress party which was, inter
alia:

(a) attempting to subvert the Constitution of India;

(b) seeking the assistance of communists who have extraterritorial loyalties;

(c) following outmoded and suicidal economic policies which have failed to produce rapid
progress.

All these and many other warnings fell on deaf ears; the people of India paid no heed and went on
voting the Congress party into power, election after election. For this deplorable shortsightedness,
they had to pay in tears and sorrow for the dead and tortured during the eighteen- month long
horrors of the Emergency of 1975-76. The complacent, easy going, power-worshipping Indian
needed the rude and painful shock administered by Mrs. Gandhi to wake up to the yawning abyss
that had opened up in front of him.

Appalled, the people woke up with a terrible jolt, revolted against the Congress tyranny and elected
a different government. The complexion of the new government, even now after 18 months in
office, is still indeterminate, but it has already adopted some of the important measures the
Swatantra advocated and has promised to adopt other measures which were not ideology-bound,
but pragmatic and sensible. To that extent, the liberal creed of the Swatantra party has been
vindicated:

The new government has,

1. restored individual liberty and freedom. No more midnight knocks, no more arrests
without trial. Attempts are being made to run the administration according to the rule of law
even in the case of those who were responsible for dispensing the law during the
emergency.

2. promised to maintain a free Press. No more autocratic censorship.

3. promised to free AIR and TV, the two State-owned media and create an independent
corporation to run them.

4. taken steps or at least has indicated its readiness to remedy matters in the sphere of
national planning so as to get away from the Soviet concept of total planning.

5. taken some halting steps to relax the rigours of the pernicious licence-permit system.

In its shortlived career, Swatantra rendered a signal service to the country by leading a mass
agitation against collective farming which had raised its ugly head in the guise of joint cooperative
farming. Despite all the rhetoric used to convince people that it was not collective farming, no one

16
was convinced. It was Nehrus way to induct communism under a deceptive name. Though the bill
was passed by Parliament, it remained a dead letter. The ruling Congress party did not pick up the
courage to enforce it, and soon after, Nehru died.

That was the shining period of the Swatantra Party. Despite its limitations, it took up a cause
fundamental to freedom and democracy in the country. As long as the peasant remained free and in
possession of his holdings, no matter how small, dictatorship and regimentation could be kept at,
bay. Dispossession of the peasant and nationalization of land is invariably the first step towards a
communist take-over. A communist dictatorship cannot exist without full enslavement of the people
of whom the peasant constitutes the large majority. The Swatantra party was able to bring to Delhi,
many thousands of small peasants to lead a march of protest to Parliament against joint cooperative
farming. And this inspite of official obstacles. In Delhi, I personally visited almost all the villages to
explain the implications of the new measure before Parliament. They understood the nature of the
new threat and promised to join the march in Delhi. Yet, on the day of the march, only a handful
joined when we expected a large contingent. We were to learn later that the village officials had
been ordered by the authorities to prevent the villagers from coming to Delhi. The then Lt.
Governor, a friend of mine, asked me a very cryptic question soon4ter: How is the Swatantra
Party? In 1967, when the Congress suffered large scale electoral defeats, I was able to return the
compliment. Meeting him at a social gathering, I pointedly asked him: How is the Congress? He
returned no answer.

The story of the second upsurge of liberalism and its early eclipse after a brief career must be told in
some detail. This is what this little volume is about.

17
INDIAN POLITICAL PARTIES AND THE INDIAN PSYCHE
Political parties do not succeed or fail by themselves. They are not individuals gifted with volition
and freedom of action; they do not take decisions by themselves; others take decisions and act in
their names. Political parties are abstract conceptions which are personified for convenience of
reference only. They are embodied only metaphorically. They are a body of men with specific
political beliefs and their own leaders. In other words, there are only three concrete elements in a
political party: the leaders, the creed and the workers. All three must be knit together in a close
unity. The leaders are the source of inspiration to all others. They lay down the creed and the modes
and mores of action the strategy and tactics. Of necessity, they must be men of extraordinary
convictions and strong faith in their creed before they can hope to attract and inspire their
followers. Needless to say, the creed must appeal to the followers.

A party can start with an initial disadvantage; it might make the mistake of adopting a creed alien to
the ethos of the people, it is meant for. Its leadership may be incompetent, not painstaking or
opportunistic. It may not set a good example and so fail to inspire its followers. In politics, the
opposite is also possible: A clever, opportunistic leadership may, in the pursuit of power, successfully
mislead the public by promising everything to everyone. In India, the Congress party has followed
such a path and reaped the benefit to the detriment of the nation. The lure of political leadership in
India is intense and compulsive; it attracts hordes of persons of doubtful mental equipment to
politics, which tends to become populist. The result is a strong general belief that politics is merely a
means to personal advancement and all means are fair in this game. Political creeds, according to
this belief, are mere devices to throw dust in the eyes of the public.

Failure of political parties is not an extraordinary occurrence in India. They sprout like mushrooms
with daylight and wither by eventide. Quite a few drag their meaningless existence long after their
very raison detre has disappeared and with no more than two men and a boy to speak for them. It is
true of even those that are alive and kicking. An outstanding example is that of the socialist parties.
The original, parent socialist party has produced a number of daughter parties by the simple process
of splitting and re-splitting. And each resultant party has splinter groups within it, hostile to each
other and ready to break loose at any moment. This peculiar behaviour of Socialists is an example
par excellence of a completely erratic leadership hidebound by ideology and blind to everything else.
To them, socialism is more important than the country and the people. Well-disciplined and
indoctrinated communists can now pick and choose between three communist parties, all daughters
of the parent Communist Party of India: Naxalites, Communist Party (Leninist, Marxist), and the most
important, Moscow bound Communist Party of India.

Splits of parties are tantamount to failures, because the splitting factions, in their hostility to each
other, erode each other.

In that sense, the erstwhile Jan Sangh, another totalitarian party, can claim a better record. It nipped
in the bud any deviationist by expelling him from .the party. It, too, suffered a split, though only a
minor one. The miniscule cast-off group, misled by a paranoid leadership, was left adrift on the
rough seas of Indian politics.

The Congress party also had a split and re-splits despite the attractions and benefits of power it
wielded since independence and before. In any case, it is no longer the party the nation knew in the

18
struggle for independence. Death and other factors have taken their toll. Its dedicated elements
have died out, and careerists, communists and fellow travellers have taken their place. The
dedicated element has spilled over and the sediment is totally and blindly opportunistic, bent upon
making hay while the sun shines. Mahatma Gandhi would turn in his grave, if he had one. His
insistence on Dharma (rectitude) has yielded place to money-grabbing, sordid manoeuvrings and
corruption of all kinds. Ministers carry long tails of touts selling licences and other facilitations.
However, it cannot be denied, that the Congress party has successes to its credit. It has clung to
power like a limet ever since Independence, and, in the process, has brought about a complete
collapse of social morality. Such has been the example set by its leaders.

The trend towards the fissioning of parties was reversed when Mrs. Gandhi called for surprise
general elections in January 1977. This brought all democratic parties together into a single Janata
party. But the new party is already deeply riven by factionalism and the merging units may have
shed their political labels but not their identities. That however is another story. But the reverse
unifying trend might well prove to have been a temporary aberration underscoring the thesis of
parties forming and splitting like atoms in a nuclear reactor.

Such large scale failures, fragmentation and depravement of political parties of this country poses a
fundamental question. Is there anything in the ethos or psyche of the people which is inimical to the
growth of political parties along normal, healthy lines of parliamentary democracy? In other words,
the root cause of failures of political parties aforementioned may not lie, and need not be sought, in
the failings or ineptitude of political parties and their leaders. It may lie in the spirit of the people, in
their attitude towards politics in general and parliamentary democracy in particular. Search must be
made, therefore, in that field for the underlying causes of this widespread malady.

It is hardly worthwhile denying and raising a controversy over the extravagant claims often made
about the existence of democracy in ancient India. It may be accepted that some rudimentary kind
of village democracy did exist in the far off days. Invaders came and went, one regime succeeded
another in quick succession without giving time to each other to settle down and organize a
systematic administration. The country was too vast for them. Sher Shah Sun was the first to
develop a revenue system, which was improved upon by the able ministers of Emperor Akbar.
However, no regime displayed either talent or energy to organize an efficient bureaucracy to govern
the country. The result was that, apart from periodic forays by the feudal lords to fleece the peasant,
the countryside was left to shift for itself as best as it could. The basic policy followed by the central
authority when it existed was to keep the villager as poor as possible lest he rise up in revolt against
the central power. In any case, the notions of parliamentary democracy remained unknown to India
until the advent of the British authority. These notions are, in fact, foreign to Indian genius. They are
transplants from abroad. This fact has to be emphasised because our leaders are inclined to forget it.
Before the British, India was only a geographical reality but not a united political entity. Except for
comparatively short periods in its history, e.g. the Ashoka period and the early Mughal period, the
country remained a conglomeration of mutually hostile and warring states. Consequently, the
visions of the people remained narrow and loyalties greatly circumscribed. Family bonds were the
strongest and then came the caste and last of all the state such as it was. There is a big carryover of
those ancient loyalties. The hold of the caste is still very strong despite all tendentious statements
made to the contrary. It vitiates the entire electoral system. The Brahmin, for example, still rules the

19
roost as can be easily ascertained from the large number of Brahmins holding positions of political
power in the centre and the various states.

The word democracy is much bandied about: a ruling party is never tired of it to justify all its
misdeeds and failures. Poor Democracy! Democracy is a state of mind. A democrat must think
democratically and act in the same spirit. The spirit of democracy is hardly skin-deep in this country.
Everyone has suddenly become aware of his democratic rights, but others rights he is not prepared
to concede or safeguard. The spirit of live and let live is not at all widespread. Every democrat of
today is completely engrossed in a rat race trying to elbow every one else out of his way to get
somewhere himself. This reminds me of an incident which illustrates the point I am trying to make.
Rajaji was due to land at Palam on his return from a visit to President Kennedy in the U.S.A. The
Delhi Swatantra Party had organised a reception for him at the aerodrome, and I was there with my
colleagues. As usually happens on such occasions, Rajaji was quickly surrounded by a crowd of his
admirers as soon as he emerged in the vast lobby. There was a great deal of noise and commotion,
but Rajaji kept moving slowly on towards the exit where his transport was waiting for him. Not being
very fond of crowds, I followed at a good distance behind. During this slow march, I noticed, an
attempt was made to take photographs of Rajaji. This must have been noticed by a person who had
lagged behind. In his anxiety not to miss being photographed, he ran towards the crowd. I was
nowhere in his way, but just for the heck of it, he gave me a good push in passing. I must confess, I
was sorely tempted to return his favour with a good kick in his backside but he was speeding like a
runaway mule and I was too slow.

In the great surge of democracy in India, good behaviour, good manners, decency, all bye fallen by
the wayside. Power has landed in the hands of the uncouth who proudly parade their lack of all
grace.

Indian people. Yet, if the definition of work is made comprehensive, then it should be regarded as
one aspect of Karma, as taught in the Gita.

Tolerance especially of views opposed to ones own, an essential content of democracy, has yet to
be cultivated. Hardly, anyone is prepared to listen to the other persons views, much less tolerate
them. The itch to air ones own views is irresistible and overpowering and equally great is the
determination to impose ones views and suppress opposition of any sort. From the individual to the
general; the same compulsions pervade the sphere of politics. The majority is convinced that it has
the right to ride roughshod over the minority, to suppress it and eliminate it, if possible. Take the
example of Hindi imperialism trying to impose itself on other languages in the name of national
integration. One country, one nation, one language Hindi zealots say. Why not one religion?

Curiously enough , tolerance is the most laudable feature of Hindu philosophy.

Democracy, as stated earlier, is a state of mind. The Indian mind, it cannot be gainsaid, is not an
empirical mind. it leans heavily towards the abstract and transcendental. And abstract minds are not
logical, at least overtly. The tilt towards the abstract is the result of excessively hot and prolonged
summers. Heat relaxes the body musculature as well as the mind, and produces a natural reluctance
to engage in any activity involving physical exertion. A natural sloth or inertia is the result. Inertia, it
may be argued, is a natural ingredient of human psychology. True, but it is greatly enhanced by a hot
climate. Like the ancient Greeks, most Indians regard work to be an ineluctable drudgery, an

20
unavoidable imposition. Ancient Hebrews regarded work as an explanation for the sin of having
disobeyed God. The protestant attitude of regarding work as a means to serve God by sharing the
fruits of work (i.e. wealth) have never been popular with the

A number of consequences follow from this heat generated inertia. To circumvent the discomfort
caused by excessive heat production, physical activity is reduced to the minimum. People tend to
become ease-loving and easygoing. Jobs involving physical exertion have, therefore, been relegated
to the lower classes, and avoidance of physical work is the hallmark of affluence. The not so affluent,
on account of the tendency to imitate those above them, have adopted the same attitude towards
work. Engaging in physical work even to help oneself is taken as an indication of inability to afford
and lack of pecuniary success. It is not considered honorific to carry even light hand luggage while
entraining or otherwise, in public view.

Heat generated inertia is responsible for the atmosphere of general malaise hanging like a monsoon
cloud everywhere. In government offices or those of nationalised concerns, the sight of hordes of
clerks and employees of lower category shuffling aimlessly about, or sitting lazily around amusing
themselves with loud talk, preventing any serious work, is appalling. Swilling of cups of tea in the
canteen or in their seats continually seems to have become the main occupation, and official work
displaced to a secondary place.

A number of consequences of political importance flow from this heat generated inertia. In general,
it delays initial reaction II or response to events and discourages a sustained political effort. Vigorous
action is replaced by a lot of verbal effort. Hence, the long, rambling, hypocritical speeches of
political leaders one is so familiar with in this country. Torrents of words with only a --)P drop of
thought: impractical solutions to involved problems. As profound mental effort is avoided, the
tongue gets facilitated into vigorous action. A ministerial chair endows a person of below par
intelligence with a right to pose as an authority on all subjects on earth. Advice and more advice,
which he himself has no intention of following, flows endlessly from his lips. Scrounging of a few
votes confers the same right on a Member of Parliament. I can recall one who had even been an
ambassador of this country whom I happened to meet at dinner at a friends house. While awaiting
dinner, for a diversion, he, a non-medical man, inflicted on me a long exposition on treatment of
tuberculosis of the lungs. He ended by criticising the government for not providing enough hospital
accommodation for tuberculosis patients. I drew his attention to the change in hospital policy since
the introduction of new anti-tuberculosis drugs. That annoyed him and he almost shouted, I have
studied this problem for twenty years. My reply that I had practised medicine for thirty years did
not make any impression on him. He did not feel abashed, he went on lecturing in the same vein.

Hypocrisy is the tribute sloth and laziness pays to mental vigour. Therefore, there is widespread
disinclination to engage in purposeful, honest political activity. Make-believe effort in the form of
long hypocritical speeches is considered good enough for political parties, particularly if there is no
monetary gain in view. Deliberate avoidance of serious sustained mental and physical effort is
responsible for shoddy political organisations.

This mental attitude is well illustrated in the sphere of religion. Pious homage to or worship of
whatever deity one believes in, but, after that, complete banishment of all religious and moral
principles and precepts from daily dealings. Unadulterated hypocrisy is the only commodity available
in abundance in these days of shortages and adulteration on a wide scale. It needs a great deal of

21
moral courage to accept these facts of life by people at large. Love of human beings is not a very
prominent feature of thought and behaviour, at least not as much as should be. Concentration on
God and godliness has slowly squeezed out love of his creation! It has been said above that the
Indian mind is not democratic; it does not think or act democratically. Equality of human beings, the
essence of democracy, is not conceded in thought or deed. If it were, there would not be such a
widespread demand for special privileges., Ministers must be paid heavily and given various other
special privileges, e.g. free residence maintained at government expense; free car with a chauffeur
and, what have you, all free of income-tax. Members of Parliament must also be kept happy so that
their votes remain handy. They must be supplied with milk and bread at subsidised rates even if it is
difficult for the people to get either. Political leaders must receive special consideration for they lead
the people. Their hangers-on will extract their own pound of flesh even before the leader.
Bureaucrats extract their privileges by virtue of the executive authority they wield. Left behind is the
common man who must be content with the leavings. If he cannot get bread, he can always eat
cake, that is what an Indian Marie Antoinette would say.

Connected with this demand for special privileges is the policy of exclusion, monopolisation, of
forming a closed ring of like-minded people. Having obtained special privileges, the beneficiaries
must guard them jealously, lest others play the same game and deprive them of their gains.
Therefore, they must join forces with others who have the same needs, and so a closed ring
emerges. The chief of a state party, for example would take care to have around him men who
support him and join with him to exclude the not so amenable. This technique was practised widely
in four states of which I have personal knowledge because I was sent to inspect their organisations
annually. Annual inspection of party organisation included membership records and accounts, was a
very healthy practice started by Swatantra Party General Secretary Minoo Masani a practice
unknown in other political parties in India. The Punjab unit of the Swatantra Party never prospered
because its doors were open to a chosen few: the others were kept out assiduously.

On the occasion of their party elections which I conducted from time to time, I failed to notice any
enthusiasm for the party on the faces of the chosen few who gathered together. They seemed more
keen on the sumptuous meal awaiting them than party affairs. Similar policies led to a clash of
personalities in U.P. The Raja of Mankapur in U.P. excluded Paliwal. S.K.D. Paliwal had to leave the
party On Mankapurs death, B. P. Singh took over. In the course of a few years, the process of
exclusion worked against him. In the last election- ape party in U.P., over which I presided, the
astounding feature was that there was not one voice in support of B. R Singh in the newly elected
State Council.and their leader. In Bihar, the party was strangulated by the Raja of Ramgarh. In
Rajasthan, the party was kept confined to old-time courtiers and retainers of the princely leaders. No
fresh wind was ever allowed to blow into the Swatantra corridors there.

This policy of exclusion is not confined to one party; it obtains in all parties all over the country. It is
a national practice. It reveals amazing shortsightedness. incredibly enough, the provincial leadership
of the party in many states did not realise that their own ultimate interests, whatever they be, would
be better served by a large mass party. Their own retainers and parasites could not produce a mass
party. Were they afraid of being swept away by a large democratic element flooding the party if the
doors were opened to all? Perhaps, that is what bothered them. They were prepared to build a party
which would move according to their dictates or no party at all.

22
To every action there is a reaction, opposite in kind though not necessarily equal in force. In politics,
Newtons Law has to be slightly amended. Reaction to monopolistic practices in political parties is
factionalism. Those afraid of being excluded by the other group, either leave the party in disgust or
join forces with others standing in similar peril. That is how factions arise. All democratic parties in
India are faction-ridden, the Congress party not excluded.

Factions, incidentally, are not the same things as groups representing special interests inside a party.
Factions are mutually hostile and tend to destroy the party, not so the groups; the latter merely
attempt to put forward the cases of the special interests they represent. As the factions become
strong, they challenge the leadership and split the party. Even the well-disciplined and fully
regimented party, the communist party of India, has not escaped factionalism and eventually split
into three separate parties.

Monopolistic practices, to get back to the main subject, lead to gradual strangulation of the party
even if it does not produce factions and eventual split of the party. It was this process of slow
strangulation that resulted in the gradual fading out of the Swatantra party from almost the whole
of North India Bihar and Rajasthan being outstanding examples.

What follows may sound reactionary to many, but adult franchise has very definitely contributed its
own difficulties to those faced by opposition parties. In fact, it has completely vitiated the electoral
processes of the country. I shall explain the mechanism later.

One summer, some years ago, I laboriously waded through the entire proceedings of the Constituent
Assembly to discover any opposition to adult franchise at the time it was discussed and adopted as
the underlying principle of elections to the newly designed electoral bodies. I was disappointed; I
found no trace of any discussion or debate on the subject. Apparently, the principle had been
adopted out of hand. No one seems to have realised at that time that adult franchise bestowed on
an illiterate electorate would prove to be the most powerful weapon for establishing a one-party
dictatorship. The names, Gandhi and Nehru, proved to be good vote catching snares for the poor
illiterate who did not understand the meaning of the votes they were casting. The adoption of a pair
of bullocks as the party symbol also helped. I have watched voters brought to polling stations like
cattle to a slaughterhouse, dazed and ununderstanding. The workers continued to whisper in their
ears right up to the door of the polling booth, vote for the pair of bullocks for bullock is the father
of the cow. The implication was obvious: since the cow is sacred, the bullock must also be sacred. A
pair of bullocks was the election symbol of the Congress party until it split. The new symbol is cow
with a calf.12 The reluctance to break away from the cow theme is significant.

In a poor country, all possible means are utilised to eke out a living and politics is no exception to the
rule. The scent of money in political parties draws all kinds of undesirables into them. This accretion
of undesirables is made all the easier since the profession of politics demands no qualifications,
educational or technical. All that is required is a knack of garnering votes. It was, therefore, very
shrewd of Nehru to describe the Swatantra party as a rich mans party. It immediately sent a large
number of undesirables scenting money into the party. It became extremely difficult to disabuse the
minds of workers of this wrong notion planted into their minds. In fact, any such attempt carried

12
During a subsequent split in the Congress Party, the Indira Congress adopted the hand. The cow and calf
symbol was frozen.

23
suspicion into their minds that large sums of money received from the Central party were being
misappropriated by the leader himself. For instance, in Delhi, that was our painful experience. It was
extremely difficult for us to convince our workers that our party was not flush with money and that
we did not receive any subvention from the National Headquarters.

In fact, the shoe was on the other leg. Money was with the Congress party. It collected money (black
money) by the millions by selling licences and permits. Money poured into the Congress party
coffers like the swell of time at election time. The party office was besieged by riff-raffs scenting
money. They spent days camping around the central party office in Jantar Mantar Road, seeking
Congress party tickets. The selected candidates of the Congress party were paid such large sums of
money to contest elections that, even if defeated, they were left with enough to get by till the Ferris
Wheel of election came round again for a fresh trial of luck, provided, of course, the candidate
husbanded the election whack wisely. It was money for jam.

If successful, he is in clover with his parliamentary pay, allowances, free house, free railway travel
and what have you. The most fruitful privilege is the purveying of licences and permits. The recent
Tulmohan affair is only one to come to light. Industrialists and businessmen pay handsomely for
licences and permits they need. If influential enough to line up an adequate number of nincompoops
behind him, he could elevate himself to a ministerial position.-In such a position, his emoluments,
perks and privileges would be too numerous to count. Sometime ago, N. Dandeker, of the Swatantra
party, who is an experienced chartered accountant and runs an accountancy firm in Bombay,
Member of Parliament and Acting General Secretary of the Swatantra party computed the total
emoluments of a central minister. His seemingly modest pay of Rs.70,800/- per annum gives a very
misleading idea of what he actually costs the taxpayer because his pay is tax-free. Calculated
according to the prevailing rates of income-tax, this modest sum amounts to rupees four lakhs and
eighty four thousand per annum or Rs.37,333/- per month. This computation does not take into
account his other perquisites: rent free house with acres of garden maintained at government
expense; servants, chauffeur-driven car, free medical treatment, free travel all over the country and
what have you. All this and heaven too in a country where the per capita income is no more than
Rs.44/- per month. And the tribe of ministers, deputy ministers and ministers of state increases by
leaps and bounds without any relevance to their work load, but in prompt response to increasing
demands from party men for ministerial chairs.

The voter, on his side, is well aware that elections come but once in five years, and, therefore, must
be put to good use. They must be made to deliver as much as possible. For the very poor, Santa
Claus turns up at election-time in the night with presents of household utensils, blankets and often
a bottle of booze to drink to the good cheer for the candidates health and remember him on polling
day. The tribal chaudhari, who controls the votes and is responsible for marshalling them to the
polling booths is, needless to say, entitled to much more for taking the candidates headache upon
himself.

The consistent policy of most of the candidates has been to corrupt the voter, innumerable aspirants
and the general public with the lure of money and so win elections.

The conditions described above are extremely inimical to the growth of a healthy opposition and any
kind of parliamentary democracy. No opposition can fight the power of money when all the big
sources of money are controlled by the ruling party. The ruling party, through its system of licences

24
and permits, first enables the industrialist and business to make black money, and then takes it back
with promise of more to come.

All the factors discussed above: Indias submission to prolonged autocratic rule with its consequent
submissiveness and worship of power; her feudal notions inherited therefrom; an almost complete
absence of the democratic spirit; perverted attitudes towards parliamentary institutions; lack of
homogeneity on account of linguistic, caste and religious divisions, the vitiating effects of illiteracy
combined with poverty and adult franchise and the sordid use to which they have been put by the
ruling party all these factors are harmful to the growth and existence of an effective opposition.
The qualifying word effective is necessary because in the Indian political atmosphere there are
parties that call themselves opposition parties, but in reality are not so. These so-called opposition
parties do not oppose; they aim at highlighting the tardiness of the Congress party in adopting and
executive radical socialist programmes. Their game is to push the Congress party to hurry faster on
the road to socialist dictatorship.

Through various means to be discussed more fully later, the Congress party had already made itself
irremoveable through the ballot box. Elections were already merely vehicles for registering
overwhelming majorities for the Congress. Results were a foregone conclusion. The opposition had
already lost faith in elections. To confound the issues for the unwary and the ill-informed, the
Congress leaders repeatedly advised the opposition to be patient and wait for the next elections. It
sounded very democratic to the outsiders who were not aware of the snags in elections. To an
extent, the conditions in India did not differ very much from those in post-Revolution France when
Napoleon took over as the first Consul. There was neither intelligence nor virtue among the people
sufficient to govern themselves. During long ages of oppression, they had sunk into an abyss whence
they could not rise, in a day, to the dignity of freemen. Not one in thirty of the population of France
could either read or write. Few had any idea of sanctity of vote ... The French seemed to have
attained no conceptions of the sanctity of the decisions of the ballot box. In India, the ballot box is
forced to yield the results required by the Congress party.

The Swatantra party correctly concluded that the fountainhead of all mischief, all the ills assailing
the country lopsided economic development, neglect of agriculture, and, above all, widespread
corruption was Delhi. It decided, therefore, to lead a frontal attack against Delhi and carry the
citadel of inequity, defilement and putrescence. The forces of peccancy, however, proved to be
strong; too well entrenched and too firmly united in their determination to maintain their
stranglehold on the country. And, the Swatantra was too weak and ill-organised.

A number of questions arise about the aptness of the tactics employed by the Swatantra party in the
attainment of its aims. A frontal attack requires overwhelming forces, which the party did not have
at its disposal, not did it try to raise them. The battleground selected, favoured the opponent. Total
and complete reliance on parliamentary activity meant playing into the hands of the adversary; All
the factors were in his favour in the parliamentary field. Wisdom and sagacity cannot defeat
numbers united in self-interest.

A flank attack might have been another option. Maos technique: conquer the cities from villages.
State parties who should have been the vanguard in the execution of such a policy proved to be
wanting, as it will be shown later. However, before we get on to those tasks, we must consider the
need of a new party. Was it necessary to add to the plethora of the existing ones. To be able to

25
answer that question, a brief recapitulaton of the conditions prevailing in the country immediately
after independence is unavoidable.

26
POST-INDEPENDENCE INDIA
Speaking at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 18th March 1931, Mr. Winston Churchill said: If in the
sacrifice of every British interest and all the necessary safeguards and means of preserving peace
and progress in India, you come to terms with Gandhi, Gandhi would, at the self-same moment,
cease to count anymore in the Indian situation. Already Nehru, his young rival in the Indian
Congress, is preparing to supercede him the moment that he has squeezed his last drop from the
British lemon.

Mr. Churchill never looked at India with a favourable eye, but how perspicacious, how shrewdly
discerning, was his reading of the Indian situation as early as 1931. Mahatma Gandhi, in fact, did
cease to matter soon after independence, except as a symbol to be exploited for the greater benefit
of the new leadership.

About the time of the Gandhi-Irwin pact, Nehru expressed the view that the Congress should cease
to exist with the coming of freedom. Mahatma Gandhi did not agree. He said that the Congress
should continue but on one condition it must pass a self-denying ordinance that none of its
members should accept a paid job under the state. If anyone of its members desired such a job, he
must resign. With the coming of independence, sixteen years later, Mahatma Gandhi thought that
the Congress, having achieved its political objective, should dedicate itself to the countrys social and
economic progress. But he did not demur when the Congress, against this advice, assumed office.

Those who wanted to exploit his name and the name of the party he built to get themselves elected
to power, could not possibly discard easily the tremendous advantages to be gained; the charisma of
Gandhi and the name of his party were fully exploited.

The other part of Mr. Churchills speech aforementioned also came true though in a very different
and tragic manner. Nehru did not push aside Mahatma Gandhi or supercede him, but death, at the
hands of an assassin removed Mahatma Gandhi from the scene, leaving Nehru his heir and
successor. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi had himself paved the way for Nehru by nominating him as the
chief Congress nominee for the Viceroys Executive Council first and for the provisional government
later.

People in India have a strong faith in the destiny of individuals and their predestination. That is why
the widely prevalent habit of consulting astrologers at critical moments for interpretations of their
future. All the important politicians have their own astrologers whom they consult from time to
time.

As an extension of this belief and flowing from it, is the postulation that, like individuals, countries
have pre-determined destinies too; one reason being that a countrys destiny is sometimes tied up
with that of an individual. Germanys destiny linked with Hitler and Italys with Mussolini, to give
only two recent examples. Indias destiny must have got intertwined with that of Nehru and his
progeny in a remarkable manner.

Here, a little digression to relate an incident which shook my conviction in the futility of astrology.
The incident has to: be related at some length else it will lose its point.

27
A friend of mine, an employee of the Government of India, whose name I shall withhold for obvious
reasons, was spending an evening with me and discoursing on astrology which was his favourite
avocation. Knowing that he himself had a fair knowledge of the subject, I always humoured him
about it, but never contradicted him. During his discourse, the subject of Hitlers sad end came up. I
do not recollect how.

He was bound to come to a sad end, my friend stated emphatically.

How can you be so sure? I asked. I have studied his horoscope. Is it freely available?

I have got it, he replied.

I did not want to throw a suggestion of skepticism about his statement. I thought I would put up to
him a more difficult problem. I said, Germany and Hitler are a far cry; let us get back closer to
home. Have you studied Mr. Nehrus horoscope? I was sure in my mind that he would parry the
question. To my surprise, he did not try to wriggle out of the situation and confidently stated that he
had studied Nehrus horoscope.

What did you make out of that? I asked. He replied at length.

Nehru was born under the influence of a constellation (Kala Sarpa Yoga, he called it, if I remember
right), which would carry the subject to very highly worldly positions. But there is one snag; such
persons are destined to see the destruction of their lifes work and reputation before they die. Their
brilliant careers end in a tragedy.

I must confess, he carried no conviction with me. However, I persisted and asked him: How long,
according to your calculations would the final tragedy take to overtake Nehru?

Quite seriously, he replied: Oh, about ten months or so.

That was near the end of July 1961.

I must say, I quita forgot his doleful prediction in the months to come. Sometime in August 1962, I
was invited to attend a ceremony at his house, I forget what. After the guests had left, we sat down
to chat. His prediction about Nehru came to my mind, and, for want of something4may, I reminded
him of the his forecast, adding that the time period indicated by him was already long past. Since he
did not reply for a good few minutes, I asked him bluntly when his prediction was likely to come
true. Without any prevaricatior), he replied confidently: It is coming, it wor:t be very long now. One
cannot be so very precise in these matters, but it is bound to come. I smiled a smile of disbelief and
the matter ended there for the time being.

In October 1962, after the Chinese attack, he rang me up one morning. There was triumph in his
voice as I heard him say: Well, it has come, hasnt it?

To get back to our subject of destiny of nations and their close links with the destiny of men.
Outstanding individuals influence, change and sometimes distort the destiny of nations whose
leaders they have become. History is replete with numerous examples and one need not labour this
point.

28
The destinies of India and Nehru must have got intertwined from the beginning somehow. It would
be next to impossible for the most hostile critic of Nehru to deny that India today is what Nehru
made it in more ways than one. Not only that; it continues to bear his stamp and persevere along
the course charted by him, and is likely to do so for sometime to come. The course he charted was
very different from the Gandhian ideal of village economy. He was a modern man, having spent his
formative years in an industrially advanced country, Great Britain. It is inevitable that, in his mind, he
made comparisons between Indias poverty and Britains affluence; and attributed it to Indias
industrial and agricultural backwardness. He could not have helped concluding that India had to
develop her industry end agriculture to get rid of her poverty. .

What made him plump for the Soviet way of rapid, planned development in preference to the
normal way of natural development from agriculture to small industries; to heavy industry? His
advancing years must have weighed heavily on his calculations against the former, slower way. The
same calculations, probably, made him impatient. He was always in a hurry, wanted to force the
pace to produce results. It would remain a mystery if the disease that finally took him away had
revealed itself to him at that early period. It is a disease, which takes many years to reach a fatal
end. This may be an unlikely guess, but if it were so, it would explain his impatience with things.

Nehru had never made a secret of his socialist beliefs. In 1931, at the Karachi session of the
Congress, he sponsored a resolution on economic policy which advocated for the first time
nationalization of industries. He was convinced that socialism alone could solve Indias pressing
problems. Earlier, in 1929, the AICC considered a resolution of the U.P. Congress Committee (of
which Nehru was the president at the time) for adoption of an economic programme on socialist
lines. The preamble to the resolution, outlining the socialist idea, was accepted by the AICC but
consideration of the detailed programme was deferred.

The Congress party committed itself to a socialist programme as early as that. In December 1929, at
Lahore, the Congress President, Nehru, stated: I must frankly confess that I am a socialist and a
republican ...

Twenty years later, he declared with equal emphasis that the The objective of his government was
transformation of India into a socialist state.

In 1926, Nehru had done to Europe for the treatment of his wife. He was away for nearly twenty-one
months. During that period, he visited Moscow along with his father, his wife and sister. That was
the time of the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Russian revolution. Discussions for the
Soviet first Five Year Plan were then on. It is a guess, but it is conceivable that Nehrus impetuous
mind was dazzled by the fanciful prospects of a great leap forward in India through central planning
of the Moscow type.

In 1955, the Avadi Congress officially adopted a socialist blueprint for India, which was, to become a
welfare state on a socialist pattern.

Defying all profuse and profound explanations, socialism fails to emerge as a sharply defined picture
with clear-cut lines. It is difficult to say where the process of socialization, once started, would lead
to. The ultimate aims of socialism and communism are the same; only the methods and procedures
differ. Communism expropriates in one fell sweep, while under socialism, the same process (called

29
nationalization) creeps forward in short steps, gobbling a little at a time, but both get to the same
destination. Indian socialism has always been mysterious; perhaps, because of deliberate policy, lest
advance notice warns its next victim. It may be nationalization of banks now and takeover of wheat
trade next. Like a tiger, it lurks in the dark, glowering and glaring, waiting its opportunity to pounce
upon its chosen victim.

Socialism with social welfare and justice siphoned off is nothing but statism. The residue is what
India seems to have got, for according to the admissions of the Congress party, twenty five years of
socialism has only made the rich richer and the poor, poorer.

The socialist Indian government not only governs, it also buys and sells, like the East India Company
of old. India had to have a national government to bring back the East India Company. As the
functions of the government expanded, its bureaucracy expanded pari passu at double the rate of
Parkinsons Law.

1947 was a calamitous year for India. The partition of the country bro.ught in its wake unparalleled
disasters. Religious madness ran wild and its fury was not satiated with the blood of millions of
innocent men, women and children. The memory of the ghastly horrors perpetrated in the name of
religion would remain burnt permanently in the minds of millions who witnessed those inhuman
atrocities.

How far the Congress party and its top leadership, particularly Nehru, were responsible for dragging
the country through that hell, by misreading the rapidly developing situation, and mismanaging it
when it had developed, would remain a controversial point. But Nehrus lack of grip and of vision is
illustrated by a statement he made which still rings a clear bell in my memory. At the height of the
mass murders in Pakistan, Nehru publicly advised Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab to stay where they
were and not seek safety in India. Fortunately, the victims did not attach any importance to that
senseless statement or they would have been butchered to the last person.

It is in my personal knowledge that at least as early as October 1946, the British administrators knew
what was coming to this country during the next few months. This information was communicated
to me by a senior British police officer of Bombay during a chance acquaintance made during a
journey from Poona to Bombay to attend a military conference. I can still recall his precise words: I
like you young man. I cannot give out any secrets, but I would advise you to get out of the Punjab
(my home province) as quickly as you can. For, when the trouble starts there, Bengal and Bihar
would pale into insignificance. I took his advice and shall be ever grateful to him for the timely
warning. Our leadership, however, was totally ignorant of the developing disaster.

The Nehru government was kept fully occupied by the disasters of the partition and the consequent
problems of the rehabilitation of refugees. On top of all that came the Pakistani invasion of Kashmir.

However, Nehru had already set into motion his plans for the future. A Planning Commission had
been brought into being under his own chairmanship. His was to be the guiding socialist hand to
keep it to the straight and narrow path of socialism. The Second Five Year Plan was a pointer
indicating the path of development selected by the government. Preference for heavy industry over
agriculture was the cornerstone of the plan. No one realized at the time that masses had to be fed
and they could not fill their stomachs with steel or socialist slogans. There was equal dearth of any

30
clear conception of the problems of uncontrolled growth of population in relation to development. It
was not realized that a rapidly growing population could eat up all the development. The Planning
Commission experts (men with little experience of planning) did not understand that whereas
population increases yearly by geometrical progression, industrial plants take years of gestation to
show any results.

In the early fifties, warnings about the approaching disastrous explosion of population began to be
voiced abroad. A population control expert, Dr. Stone, came from the U.S.A, to open the eyes of this
country. His method of Bli VI Control, the Rhythm Method, depended upon safe periods of a
womans cycle. In a country, where people find it difficult to remember their ages, and sometimes
even their names, it was a fatuous exercise to expect them to remember the days of womens cycle.

One afternoon, Dr. Stone, addressed a gathering of Delhi doctors to educate them about the details
of his method. Knowing that he had a very impractical plan to expound, he dithered for a few
minutes, and then got out of his embarrassment by inviting questions. I asked him bluntly why he
did not advise our ignorant government to adopt a simple, straightforward method of birth control.
He was frank and whispered in my ear, your government would not entertain any such suggestion.
I realized the disadvantage of having a Catholic as a Health Minister13. I then made another
suggestion to Dr. Stone that he persuade our government to offer monetary incentives for voluntary
sterilization. A few hundred crores of rupees spent this way would probably yield better dividends
than all the investment in the new steel plants. Dr. Stone just smiled at my naivet and gave no
answer.

It is a great pity that Nehru did not live long enough to see Russia, the fountainhead of socialism,
going with a begging bowl to the hated capitalist U.S.A. for grain to feed its starving masses and
China following suit. Even greater is the pity, from the countrys point of view, that Nehrus
successors stubbornly refused to benefit from the experience of the Soviet Union and China. Any
admission of failure of Russias agricultural system would have been tantamount to admission of the
failure of socialism and a confession that all the rhetoric spewed by the Congress party government
about the blessings of socialism was so much nonsense to mislead the people.

Continued neglect of agriculture over the years, brought the Indian people to the verge of starvation
in the early sixties. However, the U.S.A., then charitably inclined towards India, sent timely help
under its P.L.480 programme and saved the situation for the benighted Indian government. The
Indian people did not guess the socialist stupidity of their governmental leaders, and they went
ahead with socialist remedies to increase agricultural production. They set their face against large
scale production and adopted measures to reduce the size of land holdings. On the face of it, there
appeared to be no sense or logic in this governmental inanity. But there was a method in this
madness. The Congress government was not concerned so much with increasing production as with
sowing an impression that it was providing land for the landless. Votes were more important than
food for the people. In fact, the more distant motive was to reduce production to convince the
people that land had to be taken into governmental control to feed the people.

Every dictatorship, personal or party, must destroy all opposition. To that end, it directs itself to the
root of independence of independent thought. A farmer with a small farm of his own, enough to

13
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur.

31
maintain himself and his family, is the most independent of them all. He might not prove to be very
amenable to propaganda poured out from the central propaganda machine All India Radio. He
must be brought to heel, he must be converted into a serf of the government by taking his land from
him. The handful of industrialists can wait: they can be crushed at convenience. In fact, they, are
already half emasculated.

While agriculture starved for lack of irrigation facilities, fertilizer and other inputs, vast sums were
poured into public sector industrial plants in a steady stream. Every year, costs went up by leaps and
bounds on account of bureaucratic delays. Criticism of the crushing cost to the country brought forth
the typical socialist explanation, profit is not the prime motive of socialistic industrial concerns.
Profit became a dirty word. So the workers were looked after, bureaucrats looped off the cream and
the political leaders displayed with pride, these temples of socialism to all and sundry while the
country went on paying through it nose without the consolation of any return.

Meantime, the government devised ways and means to hamstring private industry which was doing
well. The glaring gap between a productive private industry and a non-producing public sector
industry had to be narrowed as much as possible to save the face of socialism. Therefore, the
cunning system of licences and permits the socialist dragnet that trapped all the industrialists and
businessmen. Their businesses and concerns could be strangled at any time. Also, money could be
squeezed out of them during the elections.

It would remain a mystery whether Nehru fully understood and realized the enormous power of the
weapon he had forged the Licence-Permit-Quota system, as it came to be called. Did he forge it in
the full knowledge of the power of the weapon and because of it? Did he forget it at all, or was it a
sharp communist mind that was at work in a back office? Be that as it may, it proved to be very
effective. In one fell sweep, it delivered ,bound hand and foot at his feet ,the entire industrial and
business sector of the country. One glare of the angry political eye would be enough to squeeze
money out of businessmen.

The large majority of Indian businessmen, big and small, were in no position to afford any kind of
confrontation with the government because of their wheeling and dealing. Because of their own
malpractices ( often indulged to keep their businesses alive in the context of the Licence-Permit-
Quota Raj , they were always more than ready to bend backwards to keep those in power happy.

In 1961, the Swatantra party had some response from a few industrialists.Most others either
refrained from contributing funds or gave only meagre financial help. When Tata, Khaitan and Indian
Iron groups openly announced their intention to allocate a small part of their political contribution
to opposition parties in order to help the development of a healthy opposition, Nehru was greatly
upset. In a huff, he announced that the Congress party would reject financial aid from concerns that
gave aid to the Swatantra party! However, his petulance did not prevent him from accepting
contributions from the erring industrial houses from whom he went on accepting money on the
quiet.

At that time, the Company Law permitted open contributions by joint stock companies to political
parties. Masani, however, gave no peace to the government till it passed a law forbidding such
contributions. With the new prohibition, the Congress Party was much better off. It could lay hands
on the lions share of black money of the business houses while the opposition parties were referred

32
to the law prohibiting contributions to political parties. I wonder, how Masani feels now with the
Congress party taking the entire cake. The Congress party should express its gratitude to Masani for
this enabling measure.

By 1959, the pieces began to fall into place, and a pattern threatening individual freedom began to
take shape. It bode no good for freedom and democracy, such as obtained in the country. The
government was edging closer and closer to statism and dictatorship, the early signs being heavy
taxation, controls in the shape of licences and permits and creeping nationalization. Concern and
apprehension began to assail those who could read the signs and visualize the frightful, gaping
chasm of socialist dictatorship at the end of the road on which the country was being taken.. Rajaji
had already given a call for the formation of a conservative opposition to contain the
progressiveness of the Congress, party. The impetus for crystallization of such widespread fears was
provided by the new stunt of the Congress party Cooperative Farming which was adopted as the
official policy at the Congress Session at Nagpur in 1958. Those with experience of socialism
recognized it for what it was the thin end of the wedge, forerunner of collective farming.

The announcement of the decision to form the Swatantra Party was made at Madras on 4th June
1959.

33
SWATANTRAS RISE - AND FALL
At the Preparatory Convention held on 1st and 2nd August 1959, Rajaji, in his preliminary address,
explained the need for the Swatantra party. After dwelling on his 40-year long association with
Mahatma Gandhi and the freedom movement, he went on to say: I have come to the conclusion
that a movement, as important and as serious as the movement for independence against the British
rule, has now to be inaugurated against the misconceived progress of the Congress towards what
will finally end in suppression of individual liberty and the development of the state into a truly
leviathan state. The state is becoming a giant entity by itself menacingly poised against the citizen,
interfering with his life at all points, mistrusting the people, imposing restrictions, introducing a
series of controls and regulations, stepping into the field of agriculture, industry and trade, creating
an army of officials ... The ruling party must be replaced by a party that will respect the freedom of
the individual...

There is a pervading sense of uncertainty in the country. We hold that this is fatal to progress.

The Swatantra party was formally born on 1st August 1959 at Bombay. That is when it came into the
ken of the nation, but a lot of spadework had been done by two organisations: Forum of Free
Enterprise (Forum) and All India Agriculturists Federation

62 63

(AIAF). The Forum came into existence in 1956 and the Federation in 1958.

The Forum had been started by A. D. Shroff and Morarji Vaidya with a good deal of stimulus from
Masani. The latter began

his political career in the Congress He founded the Congress

Socialist Party in 1934, and left the party he founded, after exposing the links established with
Moscow by some of his colleagues. They, later, came out in the open and formed the Communist
Party of India. Since then, Masani has been a inveterate anti-communist.

He had been making unceasing efforts to evolve a noncommunist opposition party in India since
leaving the Congress. In 1957, long before the birth of Swatantra, he had broached the subject with
the Raja of Ramgarh.14

The Forum was a non-political, non-partisan organisation. However, to be true to its aims, it could
not but oppose the statist policies of the Congress government. It gave a clear warning that wide
government controls, heavy taxation and a large public sector would destroy economic initiative and
lead to serfdom.15

The Agriculturists Federation (AIAF) was also worried about the trend of conditions in the country. It
was strongly opposed to the agricultural policies of the government, particularly land ceilings and
joint cooperative farming. The latter was taken to be the forerunner of a communist type of
collective farming. Assurances of a verbal nature were, no doubt, given that no coercive measures
would be employed in pursuit of joint cooperative farming, but, in India, government word does not

14
Eraman, H.L.: The Swatantra Party and Indian Conservatism, Cambridge, University Press, 1967.
15
Friedrich Hayek, Chicago University Press, 1944.

34
engender much trust. In any case, assurances given today can be withdrawn tomorrow under one
excuse or another as later experience with fundamental rights written into the Constitution has
shown. He would be a very rash person who would put his trust in the word of a so-called
progressive person.

No totalitarian dictator can rest in peace as long the class of peasant proprietors exists, for it
represents a body of independent men who may not buckle down to dictatorship. This independent
class of men, a standing menace to the dictator, must either be subjugated or obliterated, and the
means of his independence, his land holding, must be taken away from him. In India, where the
agricultural population constitutes 70 to 80% of the total population, the matter was very urgent if
the entire population was to be brought under monolithic control. The method selected was
uncanny to say the least. Control the size. of holdings to begin with on the excuse of abolishing
landlordism and providing land to the landless well established socialist goals. This was to be
followed by further reduction in the size of holdings as was indeed done later in 1960 and so on till
the holdings become unprofitable for all. The final step would be the complete takeover of all land
on the excuse of increasing production to feed a starving people. The situation appeared very
disturbing and threatening to the AIAF. They felt, they were up against a slowly creeping process of
communism. This fear brought the two organisations together, to constitute a nucleus to which
other anti-communist elements were attracted. The new party was intended to be a union of
business and agricultural interests.

The then president of the AIAF, Mr. S. Lal Singh, a member of the Planning Commission, became the
first president of the Delhi Swatantra party and was largely responsible for inducting me into the
party and for nominating me as a treasurer of the ad-hoc committee formed to organise the party in
Delhi. When I demurred at the proposal, he whispered in my ear (I was sitting next to him) to keep
my mouth shut. He said that Munshi (K. M. Munshi) was nominating all his men to various jobs; he
must have somebody he can rely on. S. Lal Singh and I had known each other for sometime, but our
relations were purely as between doctor and patient. Gradually these relations burgeoned into a
friendly comradeship, mutual trust and admiration which lasted till his death.

Soon after joining the Swatantra Party, S. Lal Singh told me, he had offered to resign from the
Planning Commission , but Nehru advised him to continue.

S. Lai Singh eased himself out of the chairmanship of the Delhi party in 1960 and inducted Sir Sobha
Singh in his place. He assured me that the new chairman would be of great help to the party. But it
proved to be otherwise. The new chairman and I never got on well with each other after I refused to
comply with some of his requests which I felt were not straightforward. He was responsible for a
major blunder when, going behind the back of the Delhi Ad-hoc Committee, he recommended Mrs.
Manmohini Sehgal to the National Executive as the unanimous choice of the Delhi party for
contesting a parliamentary seat in an impending by-election. It proved to be a grossly misplaced
optimism when the party could hardly boast of any organisation worth the name. Predictably, she
forfeited her deposit. In the post-election meet, Masani blamed the Delhi Ad-hoc Committee and me
for recommending such a weak candidate. I had to request him to look into the proceedings of the
Delhi Executive and point where Mrs. M. Sehgal had been recommended for adoption as our
candidate. The cat was then out of the bag. Sir Sobha Singh was asked to resign which he did. After

35
the meeting, Masani asked me to take over the job of Sir Sobha Singh. When I demurred, he
promised me help and guidance. That is how I came to be the chairman of the Delhi Swatantra party.

I used to take pleasure in meeting S. Lal Singh off and on, and found him deeply interested not only
in the Swatantra Party, but also in its Delhi unit. He had had several heart attacks but still did a lot of
travelling in connection with his duties with the Planning Commission. In 1962, when the food
problem was becoming acute, he was sent by Mr. Nehru to ascertain the truth about a large number
of tubewells allegedly established in U.P. and Bihar and had been paid for. On his return, he told me
that he was horrified to find that half the alleged number of tubewells were non-existent and a good
proportion of the remainder were not energised; that was how the food problem was being solved
by the Congress government!

His health remained indifferent. He continued to get attacks of heart insufficiency from time to time
when he was obliged to take rest, but he would be back on duty as soon as he got over them. In
1963, he told me his attacks were becoming more frequent and did not improve much with rest. I
advised him to enter a private nursing home for rest and check-up. This he did. After a few days of
rest and treatment, he felt better. I used to see him every day. One evening, I found him walking in
the garden. To allay my surprise, he assured me it was on the doctors orders. I walked about with
him, and found him full of plans to help the Delhi Swatantra party.

That same evening, I was called away urgently from an Ex-Soldiers function to see him. I found him
unconscious and realised that he was past all medical aid. He passed away in a few hours.

Sardar Bahadur Lal Singh was the most likeable among the Swatantra leaders; others came close to
him, but no one up to him. He had no airs about him; a simple, straightforward gentleman:
unassuming, self-effacing. I cannot recall even one single harsh word uttered by him or even an
indication of annoyance at others exceptionable conduct, nor any ignoble act or a sordid political
suggestion. To him, politics meant service, not personal gain. There must be very few persons of his
class in the field of Indian politics.

Swatantra Creed

Critics can, no doubt, pick a few holes in the Swatantra creed the twenty one guiding principles
referred to earlier, adopted at the Bombay Convention (Appendix-1). The main point to bear in mind
is that the creed was tailored to counteract the mindless acceptance by the country of socialist
rhetoric, which, in reality, was only a camouflage for statism. Among the people, there was too little
understanding of the underlying weaknesses of socialism; too little discrimination; too little
appreciation of freedom so recently obtained and too much blind faith in the leaders. Inertia and
sloth, already referred to, lead not only to avoidance of physical exertion, but also mental exertion.
The resulting recoil from study leads to an easy suspension of judgement and acceptance of the
same from a leader. The people accepted Congress leadership and what it taught about the
perennial benefits of socialism; for them, the Congress still wore the halo of Mahatma Gandhi
despite the fact that it had undergone a sea-change meanwhile.

By and large, the creed was based on classical liberal principles, but there were exceptions dictated
by the peculiarity of Indian conditions. For example, principle number 2 emphasises individual
initiative, enterprise and energy as effective means of securing social welfare, progress and the

36
happiness of the people. The party stood for maximum freedom for the individual and minimum
interference by the state. However, it allowed state action to punish the anti-social activities of
unscrupulous entrepreneurs.

needs no mental effort. A little thought would clarify the absolute essentiality of property rights, for
it is at the very foundation of all other rights. Without it, the entire edifice of fundamental rights
collapses taking down with it democracy. But so thoughtless is the general Indian public; so
disinclined to engage in serious thought and, also so riddled with jealousy that it swallowed hook,
line and sinker the misleading propaganda of communists, cryptocommunists and half-witted
Congressmen who had stopped thinking beyond their self-interest. It failed to realise that property
did not stop at the rich mans property. The poor mans belongings were also property as also the
farmers few acres of land. Power yielded to government to abrogate property was a limitless power

The party took a very strong position on fundamental rights. It wanted strict adherence to them and
all the guarantees specified in the Constitution as originally adopted, particularly, the freedom to
engage in trade or an occupation of ones choice; freedom to own property and just compensation
for any property compulsorily acquired by the state for public purpose. The Swatantra position on
property rights was the target of a great deal of criticism from progressive sources who are usually
themselves incapable of making an honest living. Progressive propaganda made property to appear
as something shameful, and styled the party a rich mens party. Condemnation of the other person
comes very facilely to the Indian mind because it and it opened the way for the abolition of property
of all kinds converting the citizens into serfs of the state.

Running through the Swatantra creed was the horror of statism, of government entering the field of
trade and industry, disturbing existing sources of production and distribution. State enterprises,
however, were accepted as a necessary evil in heavy industry to supplement and not replace or oust
private enterprise. Government ownership of national services, e,g. Railways was also accepted.

Heavy taxation and deficit financing were opposed as both ultimately led to inflation, one directly
and the other through black money. There is nothing more callous and cruel than a calculated
erosion of money value. It is tantamount to cheating the fixed income group of its lifes savings. With
continuing diminution of the worth of money, a school teacher or a clerk would discover to his
horror on retirement that his gratuity or pension was not worth anything at all. This kind of
socialistic fraud could only come from enemies of the people.

The right of labour to organise for the purpose of collective bargaining was accepted. In other words,
their right to band themselves into trade unions.

The need for a clean administration is great in India where corruption erupts like a volcano from the
top and sears the lower strata right through.

Planning had become a magic word which had captured the imagination of the people. Instead of
being regarded as a means to an end, it had become the end in itself. The type of planning and its
results were lost sight of in the euphoria created by repetitive socialist rhetoric. The Swatantra party
was roundly criticised for being anti-plan as if that was heresy. Nehru and all others who wanted to
flatter him went about shouting that planning was a necessity in the modern world. It meant, by
implication, that the Swatantra was out of date and perverse. But Nehru and his yes-men did not

37
specify the type of planning they had in view. They did not inform their benighted audiences that the
Moscow type of planning was not the only type of planning in the modern world; that there were
other types. There was indicative planning of the French type in which industrialists participated
fully. Nor did they clarify why planning in India had to be of the Soviet Gosplan variety. It was not
planning per se that the Swatantra party objected to; there has to be some kind of planning for
development. It was the type of planning that was regarded as objectionable and harmful to the
country. Later day knowledge and experience has demonstrated the damage done by the five year
plans. It cannot be denied that some progress was achieved under the plans, but the cost proved to
be disastrous. Rivers of money, deficit finance money, flowed into the huge steel plants, to take only
one example. Expenditure of money, and not the return from it, became the only criterion of
socialist progress. Politicians, bureaucrats and profiteers bathed gleefully in the flowing rivers.
Unlimited and uncontrolled leaching always leads to water-logging. Today, the country is water-
logged with depreciated currency, and we have to contend with vaulting inflation. Ironically, it is the
stupid middle-class, which thoughtlessly repeated the Congress charges against the Swatantra,
which has to suffer most on account of inflation.

As a sly, vote catching trick, the plans were cunningly linked with elections. The first plan coincided
with the 1952 elections, and subsequent ones with the 1957, 1962 and 1967 elections. The fourth
plan came to grief on account of inflation and food shortages. It gasped for a long time before finally
giving up the ghost. The Fifth Plan has been a still-born. It is doubtful, if our poor country will be able
to bear the burden of any more socialistic planning. There is no more tall talk about planning; the
much vaunted planning has breathed its last after sucking the country dry.

What the Swatantra wanted was pragmatic plans that would build the country from the roots and
objected to top-heavy, wildly spending plans that would only result in inflation. The same could be
said of the party creed. In a nutshell, it was a pragmatic creed, not ideology bound and was meant to
lay sound foundations for progress.

Not everyone in the Swatantra Party itself agreed with all the principles of the creed. There were
mental reservations of a minor kind. Mental adjustments had to be made. Mental reservations had
to be put aside because the need of the hour was a strona and healthy opposition party to arrest the
communist infatuation. The Swatantra adopted the view that a certain latitude and flexibility in the
matter of non-essentials was not harmful. On the contrary, healthy. The twenty one principles did
not pretend, therefore, to be comprehensive and cover the entire field of Indian political problems.
This innovation was explained by Rajaji himself in these words: This party of freedom is further
making a novel experiment in restricting disciplinary control over party members to essential issues,
giving freedom in all other matters according to individual opinion. He was explaining the meaning
of the 21st Principle (see Appendix 1).

A number of issues social, linguistic and provincial did not receive any notice in the fundamental
principles. The omission was deliberate, meant to skirt round controversial issues of lesser
importance and concentrate on building a national opposition party.

The formation of an effective opposition to the Congress party, corrupted by absolute power, was
essential not only to expose and control its corruption, but also to restore some kind of balance to
the lop-sided Indian politics. Although, there were other parties in Parliament socialist and
communist parties, for example, which styled themselves opposition parties, they were not genuine

38
opposition parties. They did not oppose the party in power. They merely echoed the socialist
rhetoric of the party in power, only more vociferously, more stridently. Their real aim was to act like
a stick to the Congress donkey to make it run faster to its socialist doom.

In his opening remarks at the Preparatory Convention on August 1, 1959, Masani made matters very
clear. He said, There has been since the achievement of independence, a double imbalance in our
polity. By reason of there being no acceptable alternative at the elections, the ruling party has been
in Parliament and in the legislatures of the states so numerous and so powerful that there has been
no opposition-wqrth the name. ... Such a state of affairs does not conduce to the health of a
parliamentary democracy. It is bad for the government, because it creates arbitrariness on one side
and flabbiness on the other. It is bad for the opposition because it breeds irresponsibility caused by
the lack of hope in ever achieving power. ,

All other parties in existence hitherto have adhered to socialism or communism of one brand or
another. Communist and socialist parties cannot, by their very nature, function as an effective
opposition to the government of the day, because ideologically, they are merely satellites of the
ruling party. The most they can do is to egg the government on to slide faster down the slope of
collectivism. The result has been that, at the last elections, (1952), in most constituencies, the voter
did not have an opportunity to vote for any way of life other than the communist or socialist. To a
man who believed in any other ideology, the choice between the Congress, the Praja Socialist Party,
the Socialist Party and the Communist Party candidates was a Hobsons choice. For all political
purposes, a large part of the electorate was thus disenfranchised. It will now be possible for the
country and the electorate to have before it a clear alternative.

However, the irony of the situation was that it was already too late to correct the imbalance in the
polity. Swatantra entered the lists too late. Its realistic, pragmatic principles and policies
notwithstanding, the chances of success for the party were already circumscribed to a great extent.
It would discover, in course of time, the impossibility of weaning away the half-starved, illiterate
electorate of India from the fantastic charms evoked by the repetitive intonations of the blessings
expected from the socialistic haven the Congress was building. The dream-like fantasy of waking up
one day into a world of equality and affluence was too strong to be resisted or counteracted by
appeals to realism. It was too easy to brand the Swatantra a capitalist party, anti-poor.

Through these and other means, the Congress party had already established itself in an impregnable
position. Behind a facade of democratic procedures lay hidden one-party dictatorship. Periodically
staged elections were only a camouflage to hoodwink the people and acquire democratic sanctity in
the eyes of foreigners. Through them, it earned the right to be styled a democratically elected
government and also the honorific of the largest democracy of the world. In a sense, it was
democratic because it garnered enough votes, but in the manner and mechanism of garnering those
votes lay the secret of the irremovability of the Congress party government. Democratic procedures
and motions gone through periodically beguiled the people into believing that the Congress
government could be displaced from power through electoral processes and misled them into the
belief that everything was all right with their democracy. Even the Swatantra party fell into this trap.
It fondly convinced itself that it merely haviV go to the people, open their eyes to the Congress
misrule and peculation and the Congress demon would be exorcised. No such thing was possible, in
fact.

39
No one seems to have studied in depth the mechanism of Indian elections, and analysed the factors
on which the repeated Congress victories rested. The Congress party has had long experience,
extending over fifty years, of studying and masterminding elections. It had acquired the knack of
garnering votes.

The two most important factors are money and a hopelessly divided electorate divided and
mutually suspicious and hostile. The government controls all the fountain springs of money through
the licence-permit system. It is-in its knowledge that almost the entire commercial community has
large caches of black money. In fact, the government helps them to accumulate such money though
the uncanny system of controls it has evolved. On their side, black money owners are only too
willing to contribute generously to the Congress election funds because of the certainty of extracting
licences and permits from the government. Money power can be devastating in a poor country. It
can completely vitiate the elections. It was in this knowledge that Biju Patnaik, then a Congressman,
made his famous statement, if I had a crore of rupees to spend, I could become the Prime Minister
of India.

A divided electorate is another key factor. Justified or not, the fears of Hindu revivalism are
widespread in the minds of the minorities Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and most important of all,
the Scheduled Castes. These fears are considerably augmented by the aggressive, revivalist policies
of the Jan Sangh and fanned purposely by the Congress party. The latter puts the fear of death into
the minds of the minorities by raising the Jan Sangh ogre before them and then presents itself as the
only safeguard for the minorities.

No Muslim would vote for the Jan Sangh lest it come to power and decimate the entire Muslim
community. Such are the fears of the Hindu resurgence under the Jan Sangh. Nor would it, or any
other minority, risk voting for a new party, howsoever secular, if it is unsure of defeating the
Congress party. There are more than eighty million Muslims in India.

The Scheduled Castes are equally scared to death of the same monster, the Jan Sangh. They have
not forgotten the centuries long period of Brahmin tyranny and repression. The same fears play on
the minds of the Sikhs and Christians. These minorities would tilt the balance in favour of the
Congress party every time. However not all the Hindus are anti-Congress; quite a number support it
either through misplaced faith or self-interest.

A simple addition of minority votes which will always go to the Congress party out of fear of
domination by the majority community, to the good many majority community votes attracted by
the Congress candidates will show how strong the Congress position would be in any election. Only
once in the 1967 elections, a portion of Muslim vote strayed away from the Congress party and its
majorities came tumbling down. The performance of the successor governments was so poor that
the minorities are not likely to stray from the straight and narrow path of blind support to the
Congress party.

Looked at from this angle, it is easy to conclude, that it is the Jan Sangh that keeps the Congress in
power by enabling it to win minority votes. Yet, so shortsighted is the RSS leadership (mostly
Maharashtrian Brahmins) which controls the Jan Sangh that it stubbornly persists in pursuing its
policies which would only confirm the fears of the minorities. Only recently, the Jan Sangh started
the slogan of Indianising the Muslims of India which put the Muslim wind up. Indirectly helping the

40
Congress to win elections in the manner indicated, is not the only service the Jan Sangh renders the
Congress party. In its blind perversity, it is firmly resolved that it must do its utmost to defeat and
destroy, by fair means or foul, all other opposition parties. Masani did not believe me when I warned
him about the Jan Sangh. I can recall the answer he gave me. He said, Vajpayee is playing fair with
us; he is cooperating fully. Jan Sangh treachery became evident to him only when, despite the
alliance, it put up a candidate of its own to oppose Masani. Masani was not aware of the inner
malignancy of the Jan Sangh towards other opposition parties. It believes that the best way of
achieving its vicious objective is to destroy, politically, the leaders of other opposition parties, render
them leaderless before administering the coup de grace.

So much about the two major factors that help the Congress repeatedly win elections hands down,
but there are others too. It has complete control of radio and television broadcasting and utilises to
the full these facilities for propaganda which is piped down to the remotest village in India. The
government has turned a deaf ear to all demands for handing over these audio-visual means to an
independent corporation. Nor does it permit even one single broadcast from the opposition parties
during the elections.

Cinema has now become a very important channel for conducting a subtle propaganda in.favour of
socialism. Dominated by communists and fellow travellers, the film industry continually grinds out
potboilers with the same monotonous theme. Boy meets girl, and in the background, is i3hy rich
man, cruel, heartless and anti-social, bent upon crushing the noble poor. The whole stupid thing is
garnished with popular tunes every few feet of each reel, which draws crowds again and again.
Communist propaganda sinks into the minds of the people and more and more grist comes to the
Communist mill. Ironically, these caricatures of the rich are patronised enthusiastically by the well-
to-do and their children without thought of the implications and without a single voice of protest
against the crude, tendentious nature of the boringly repetitive horrors.

Bureaucracy in India has been traditionally servile, abjectly servile to the powers that be and always
ready to bend backwards to propitiate the political bosses. Polling officers at the time of elections
are drawn from this crowd, and they are only too willing to turn a blind eye to the irregularities
committed by the Congress candidates and their henchmen. To give one example, there were
reports in the press during the parliamentary elections of 1971 of wholesale capture of polling
booths by Congress henchmen who marked all the ballot papers in favour of the Congress
candidates and stuffed them into the ballot boxes long before the booths opened officially. Voters
turning up at the stated time for polling discovered that voting had already finished.

Following discussions started in June 1970, a ray of light burst through the enshrouding dark clouds.
That was in 1971, just before the fateful elections of that year. Earlier, the Congress party had split
over the election of V.V.Giri over the head of Sanjeeva Reddy who had been unanimously adopted
as the Congress candidate. Leaders of the moiety that broke away were approached and found
amenable and willing to make common cause with other non-communist opposition parties. A
common programme was evolved and the combine of the parties given the sobriquet of Grand
Alliance. At the eleventh hour, for reasons best known to him, Nijalingappa brought in the turbulent
elements of the SSP - Madhu Limaye, George Fernandes and the stormy petrel Raj Narain. Ontheir
insistence, the agreed joint programme was given up in favour of the catchy slogan, Indira Hatao.
On 3rd January 1971, Masani walked out of the alliance in protest against this childish decision.

41
At a small meeting of the Swatantra leadership held at Masanis residence in January 1971, the
difficulties created by Nijalingappa, supported by Raj Narain and others were outlined by Masani as
also the ditherings of the BKD chameleon, Chaudhari Charan Singh. He had previously let down the
opposition badly in the matter of support to Reddy in Giris election. After having promised support
to Reddy, he and his party cast their second preference votes in favour of Giri. Those second
preference votes proved to be decisive since Giri did not win on the first preference votes.

Eventually true to his ways, the Chaudhari did not join the alliance.

The consensus of opinion at the above mentioned meeting appeared to be mildly in favour of
irieeprojected alliance. I was the solitary person to raise a discordant voice warning the meeting
against the unreliable Chaudhari. He, soon after, made a deal with the Congress rulers and deserted
the opposition in exchange for the Chief Ministership of U.P., which he could not hold for longer
than six months or, thereabout. The Jan Sangh, too, I said, could not be relied upon, for it was the
settled policy of that party to do its best to destroy other opposition parties. Masani with his over-
confidence and lack of patience interrupted me and stopped me from expounding my idea. He
contradicted me by saying that things had changed greatly, and Vajpayee, the Jan Sangh leader, was
behaving in a friendly manner. I decided it was futile to persist in the face of Masanis opposition.
Given a chance, I wanted to explain that a leopard does not change its spots and that Masani,
himself would be the target of Jan Sangh treachery. That, as explained earlier, was precisely what
happened in the following elections.

Eventually, it was decided that there wont be a joint programme, an understanding should be
arrived at with the other parties of the alliance not to oppose each other. In the case of Masani, the
Jan Sangh made an exception and put up its own candidate to oppose him. On account of the
consequent division of votes, the Congress candidate won and Masani was defeated in his old
constituency which had not known a Jan Sangh candidate before.

The final decision in favour of the Grand Alliance was taken at Madras at a meeting of the National
Executive. The proceedings had some comical aspects. It had already appeared in the press that
there had been informal approaches between Rajaji and Kamaraj. The two seemed to have come to
a tentative conclusion that an alliance was an inescapable necessity. Kamaraj had been a very
successful president of the undivided Congress party, and, in that capacity, had been responsible for
the selection and placement of two Prime Ministers of India in a row, the last being Mrs. Gandhi.
After his last coup, he had been obliged to leave the Indira Congress, as it came to be called, along
with some of his companions. Since then he had been wandering in the wilderness. Nevertheless, he
was still an influential leader in South India.

Masani started the meeting with a brief account of the negotiations for the projected alliance. He
outlined the difficulties he had experienced and the details of the advent of the socialist trio
Madhu Limaye, George Fernandes and Raj Narain. Vajpayee, who was to accompany Masani to
finalise the alliance with Nijalingappa, had mysteriously disappeared from Delhi on the appointed
day without leaving a word. At Nijalinappas place, Masani was confronted by Raj Narain. The
abandonment of the agreed programme in favour of an empty slogan, Indira Hatao was the
achievement of the socialist trio.

42
Piloo Mody raised his raucous voice in support of the projected alliance. The others were guarded.
Mariswamy, the general secretary of the Madras party, was arguing against the alliance fairly
cogently, when Masani interrupted with the remark that Rajaji was in favour of the alliance. A
sudden, dramatic change came over Mariswamy. He stopped in midstream and abjectly announced
that he withdrew his remarks unreservedly and totally. It struck me as extremely peculiar that a
leader of the National Executive level should so abjectly withdraw his considered opinion merely at
the mention of Rajajis opinion. This is a small illustration of the type of leadership the Swatantra
was able to scrounge. There would be many more hereafter.

At this point, Rajaji joined the meeting and gave his clinching opinion in favour of the alliance. The
burden of his advocacy was that it had become a matter of national urgency to combine with other
parties. Piloo Mody, who, upto that time had not counted for much in the party discussions, and
who was later to manoeuvre the destruction of the party gave his full support to the idea of the
alliance once again. In fact, he had always been in favour of the alliance with the Jan Sangh and
other parties. My impression was that his superficial mind could not have been up to the effort of
studying in depth the internal workings of the Jan Sangh; their monolithic, Brahmin control and
totalitarian methods and insistence on mixing religion with politics.

No one at the meeting Pick the trouble of pointing out the adverse effects of our alliance with the
Jan Sangh on the minorities in general and our own minority members in particular. So far, the
Swatantra image was that of a secular party; it was being abandoned now. Dahyabhai Patel added
his voice to the strident voice of Piloo Mody in support of the alliance. Masani and Dandeker
suggested going it alone, but they were in a hopeless minority. I raised my voice cautioning the
meeting against making common cause with the Jan Sangh, but mine was a tiny, feeble voice in the
wilderness. After Rajajis opinion, no one was in a mood to listen. Prof. Ranga supported Rajaji.
Clever drafting at Rajajis dictation defeated Masanis idea of going it alone. After the decision was
taken, Masani remarked, You have today handed over the impending elections to Mrs. Gandhi on a
platter.

The meeting over, I found Masani and Dahyabhai confabulating in Rajajis cottage: I warned them
both against the approaching disaster with these words: I hope, Masani, you do not have to shed
tears of regret and sorrow as a result of the decision you have taken today. Masani, I remember,
kept quiet, but Dahyabhai replied, It is all in the national interest.

Lunch was then partaken. In the post-prandial atmosphere of comfort and well-being and paan
chewing, who should come in but Kamaraj. He came in scattering benign smiles all round, sat with
Rajaji for a few minutes and then left. I took that visit as a pat on our backs for having conducted
ourselves like good boys and endorsed his scheme of grand alliance.

Kamarajs visit left me with a positive feeling of discomfort in the pit of my stomach; the Grand
Alliance decision did not go down well with me. Looking at the smiling faces around me, listening to
the chatter in different languages, I wondered if these leaders had any understanding of the
dangerous decision they had just taken. The dominant feeling in them seemed to be one of relief at
having got over a big hurdle and got on to a straight and smooth road. No one impressed me, with
his deep knowledge of the problems that lay ahead and the pitfalls. They all seemed to me to know
what they wanted and not the game of the opposition party. I did not realise till then with what little

43
wisdom political parties in India are run. But I comforted myself with the thought that the Congress
crowd was much more lacklustre and corrupt to boot.

There is a general lack of perspicacity and shrewdness in the political arena of the country, its place
being taken by hypocrisy, treachery and outright deception. This combination leads to deplorable
situations quite often. I have seen leaders being taken for a ride by lower level workers.

In the midst of all these not very charitable thoughts about those around me, was the much more
intense feelings of my own failure failure to convince the top leadership of the party of the
ineptness of the decision taken. This feeling of personal inadequacy had haunted me for some time. I
had gone back from similar meetings before disappointed with myself, furiously blaming myself and
thinking and rethinking about what I had said at the meeting and in what manner. Could it not have
been put in better, more impressive language to carry conviction? Terribly frustrating!

The achievements of the grand alliance were negative, and the consequences, of the 1971
parliamentary elections are still haunting the country like persistent ghosts.

The utterly selfish and shortsighted attitudes of the parties in the alliance other than the Swatantra
Party became apparent in the matter of distribution of seats. There was a scramble to grab as many
seats as possible at the expense of other parties. The Swatantra, in its keenness to make the alliance
successful, willingly gave away its own seats. There seemed to be a childish conviction in the minds
of the partners of the Swatantra party that by diddling others, they would build their own party.
They failed to realise that in an alliance, damage to one partner is damage to the alliance. Indian
politicians, in general, have not risen to the level of honestly keeping a contract made. In fact, most
of them openly declare that irrhiaplitics all is fair and there is no room for honest persons in politics.
They do not seem to realise that that is what they have made politics to be.

The slogan of Garibi Hatao which the Indira Congress adopted in reply to the negative one given by
the socialist luminaries, worked like magic with the masses and played havoc with the opposition
parties including those of the socialist bright wits. The alliance of Indira with the Communist Party
(Moscow group) also helped. Indira achieved a landslide victory over the Grand Alliance securing
more than two-thirds of the total seats, enough to steam roll any legislation through Parliament.

Amendments to the Constitution abrogating property rights and abolishing the privy purses were
rapidly rushed through Parliament while the Indira surf was still swelling.

The results of the 1971 elections showed very clearly the inanity of the policies pursued by the
Grand Alliance parties. The total number of Congres seats in Parliament before the Congress split
was only 279. Now the Indira Congress alone had secured 350 seats. Despite all their manoeuvrings,
the Jan Sangh lost its thirteen seats while the defector Congress(O) could secure only sixteen seats.
Raj Narains socialists were reduced to three from twenty three. Charan Singhs BKD was wiped out.
Swatantra secured a paltry 8 seats.

These results must be seen against the background of the 1967 elections to get a clear idea of the
disaster that had overtaken the Swatantra. In 1967, it doubled its strength in the Lok Sabha from 22
to 44. In Orissa, a Swatantra led coalition government came into existence. In Gujarat, the party did
not manage to unseat the Congress party, but it won 66 seats and became the official opposition.

44
The same happened in Rajasthan. In Andhra Pradesh, the party was the principal opposition party.
The total number of assembly seats won by the Swatantra came to 259.

Apart from these encouraging figures, there were some very significant features, which contradicted
a good many criticisms of the Swatantra party invented by the Congress-cum-Socialist leaders. Of
the 259 Assembly members, as many as 252 were elected from rural constituencies. This established
the rural character of the party. The Congress party had always arrogated to itself the
spokesmanship of the rural masses and designated the Swatantra as the representative of the urban
classes only.

In the Lok Sabha, 42 representatives were returned from rural and semi-rural constituencies.
Another charge against the Swatantra party was that it championed big business. Of these members,
as many as 19 were agriculturists and twelve professionals. Businessmen and industrialists were no
more than nine. There were four former princes.

Its representative character could also be gauged from the fact that it drew its members from all the
states except Kerala and West Bengal both Communist dominated states and Madhya Pradesh
and Maharashtra.

45
SWATANTRAS LEADERS
A country like India, full of diversities, religious, linguistic and what have you, is bound to project
these diversities into every sphere of public life including politics. Swatantra was no exception to this
rule. The party had collected in its fold a curious mixture of varying shades of opinion. Swatantra
leadership reflected the same shades in itself, varying from the pro-Jan Sangh views of Dahyabhai
Patel and K. M. Munshi, to the modern, West-oriented views of Masani and those few who thought
like him.

K. M. Munshi and Dahyabhai Patel

Quite early on, in the history of the Swatantra Party, I had blundered unwittingly into an exposure of
the Jan Sangh proclivities of Munshi and Dahyabhai and so earned their lasting hostility which was
exhibited in various ways even to the detriment of party interests. An Indian cannot brook
opposition; that is an archetypal feature of his make-up. All the more, if he is in the wrong and the
other party is in the right. If proved wrong to his public discomfiture, he is a life-long enemy, always
scheming to get even with the other unfortunate person. From his point of view, it is an unforgivable
sin or crime for the other person to be in the right. There are very few who would acknowledge their
mistake. In general, rendering an apology is like dying to him.

In June 1962, Mr. P. K. Deo (a Swatantra M.P.) arranged a tea party in the MPs quarters where he
was lodged. I happened to be standing near Rajaji when Munshi and Dahyabhai approached
together and triumphantly announced to Rajaji that they had successfully concluded an arrangement
with the Jan Sangh which would bring the two parties together. At first, the two parties would vote
together, and later, merge together. I was greatly disturbed, for union with the Jan Sangh would
mean loss of our secular image and also loss of the Swatantra identity. Before Rajaji could say
anything, I chipped in and asked Rajaji, We are democratic and secular. How can we join the Jan
Sangh?

Munshi was livid, and shouted rudely, You dont understand anything. In utter disgust, I walked
away and busied myself with a cup of tea. Soon, Rajajis secretary approached me and told me that
Rajaji wanted to see me. Rajaji motioned me to a chair. next to him. Then addressing Munshi and
Dahyabhai, he said, You tell the Jan Sangh to declare themselves and their party secular, and we
shall think about joining them. That was Rajajis way of settling the matter! But I could sense
electricity in the atmosphere and Munshis eyes were signalling flashes of anger.

Ever after when I met Munshi, which was not very often, I could see the chill in his eyes and coldness
of his behaviour. I was never forgiven. Dahyabhai was more openly and demonstrably hostile. Every
time we arranged a public meeting in Delhi, we requested him to come and address the meeting. He
never refused, but when transport was sent to collect him an hour or so before the meeting, he was
always absent and remained so till well after the meeting had dispersed. Hostility to me (I was
president of the Delhi patty then), superseded party interest in Dahyabhais mind. Later, when
trouble was created by some Jan Sangh rejects whom Munshi had pushed into Delhi party, both
Munshi and Dahyabhai insisted on the dissolution of the Delhi party. I was told this by Masani.

N. G. Ranga

46
Prof. N. G. Ranga, till he decided to jump on to the Congress bandwagon, was a stalwart peasant
leader. He parted company with the Congress in protest against the Nagpur resolution of joint
cooperative farming to join the Swatantra. Most Indian politicians are remarkably colourless
personalities; they pursue politics with a singleness of purpose and concentration leaving no room
for any other interest, much less an avocation. The only relaxation they allow themselves is gorging
at dinner parties. Prof. Ranga did not allow himself such relaxations. His background alone should
have obliged him to make common cause with democratic elements in the Swatantra party, but his
dislike for Masani led him to the aristocrats. He told me once that Masani had brought the party
down. He said this when Ranga himself was still party chairman. His autocratic behaviour in the
matter of the inquiry ordered by the National Executive was a case in point. The inquiry was ordered
to ascertain the causes of defeat of Rajkumar Prithvi Singh in the Dausa Parliamentary Constituency
held earlier by Swatantra. There were allegations that the Rajkumar Maharani Gayatri Devis
son had done very little in the constituency to win over the voters, having depended mainly on
palace influence. In the midst of the enquiry, Ranga, on the behest of Rajasthans aristocrats,
autocratically, without consulting the National Executive, terminated the enquiry without as much as
a word of thanks or apology to the members of the committee for their fruitless labours. Masani had
meanwhile resigned from the office of General Secretary on account of the C. C. Desai affair, of
which more later.

In December 1969, after an innings of ten years, Ranga was eased out of his chair with some
difficulty and Masani elected in his place. Ranga did not contest, nor attend the election meeting of
the General Council. He did not accept the change kindly and lost interest in the party. Thereafter he
did not attend a single meeting of the National Executive to which he was elected nor of the General
Council of which he was a member by virtue of being an ex-president. His interest in the party
endured only as long as the party was prepared to furnish funds for his election which he did not win
first time; he had to wait for a by-election to win. During the previous elections, Latchanna had to
vacate a seat to enable Ranga to get into Parliament. Ranga, being an old Congressman, suffered
from the malady common to all Congressmen; he could not function in the wilderness. Congressmen
cannot endure the idea of being in opposition: Power is the breath of their nostrils.

By November 1971, Ranga must have made up his mind that he had no more use for Swatantra and
he must explore new fields for himself, or old fields anew. He began efforts to ingratiate himself with
the Congress party by going into hysterical panegyrics over the results of the March elections when
the Indira wave had swept the country. He coveres1,1hem with glory and grandeur by dignifying
them as the outcome of a revolution. He described it the March Revolution.

In his letter dated 30th November 1971, addressed to Dahyabhai, he tried by means of involved
sophistry, to justify his support for the 25th Amendment of the Constitution which abrogates or
radically abridges property rights guaranteed by the Constitution. (Full text in Appendix II).

He begins by saying that there is need for all democrats to re-orient their attitudes, policies and
programmes in the light of and in harmony with the decisions of the electorate in the March
elections. I consider that our people have staged a peaceful and democratic revolution in March.
He goes on to say that he resigned from the Congress party when Nehru insisted upon imposing one-
sided ceilings upon agriculturists. Now that the present government wishes to remove that invidious

47
discrimination, I cannot ask peasants, in all conscience, to oppose it. In his eyes, the second wrong
had righted the first: two wrongs make one right!

Events, in their inexorable march, have a disconcerting way of deflating blown-up popularities and
wiping off charisma suddenly acquired. One can justifiably wonder what Ranga is thinking about the
peaceful revolution staged by our people in March 1971 when his idol, Mrs. Gandhi., is being
reviled by the same people for having brought on them the twin disasters of rising prices and
scarcity.

Mr. Dandekers reply to his letter cogently demonstrates the ridiculous contradictions in his
sophistications. (Full text in Appendix III).

Rangas mind is neither confused or prevaricating. It had his real objective in full and clear view.
Ranga contributed a longwinded article in praise of Mrs. Gandhi. He turned his coat for a purpose.
Finally, he got what he had been trying hard for a scrap or two from Mrs. Gandhi; she gave him a
sinecure. Since then his enthusiasm for the peaceful revolution staged by the people in March 1971
has not brought forth any fresh panegyrics.

C. Rajagopalachari

Swatantras birth was due to the vision of C. Rajagopalachari or Rajaji as he was better known the
founder leader. His admirable courage and high sense of duty to the nation were responsible for the
clean break he made with the Congress Party with which he had a lifelong association. When the
current of Congress popularity was running strong, his keen vision convinced him that the later day
Congress was no longer the Congress of Mahatma Gandhis days. In pursuit of power and peculation,
its members had skirted round all consideration of the welfare of the country. Absolute power had
corrupted it. Ideals of service to the nation which the father of the nation had set for them were all
locked up in the Congress cupboards along with innumerable skeletons. There they were collecting
dust. Every year, on Mahatma Gandhis birthday, these ideals were brought out, aired and ritualistic
tributes paid to them; but only to establish political kinship with them, to continue to bask in the
glory Mahatma Gandhi covered himself with and then to lock them back in the cupboard for the rest
of the. year.

Rajaji had held, in succession, a number of high public offices. He was Chief Minister of Madras for a
number of years which office he left to become Home Minister at the centre. Later, he was Governor
of West Bengal, and finished his career of government offices as the last Governor General of India,
when he was literally ordered to take over as Chief Minister of Madras when there was danger of a
communist-led coalition government in Madras. Such a long and distinguished career put him
beyond any charge of personal ambition. He could not expect any gain out of the fledgling party he
brought into existence and nurtured it to the end of his days. All he wanted was to see that India did
not go off the rails of sound politics and economics chasing the chimera of rapid material progress,
and, in the process, lose her freedom to a totalitarian Moloch.

Rajaji lived an austere, Gandhian life without any paraphernalia of modern civilisation. He did not
believe in increasing his material needs. He was a conservative to the core of his heart. He believed
in a simple, disarmed society as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he believed
in the restriction of ones material needs. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he was convinced that machines

48
dehumanise human beings. The Joint Family system, he felt, was an admirable feature of Indian
society. Rajajis views about a planned economy were very clear. Planned economy, he allowed, was
a feature of modern economy. He was certain, however, that it could not be achieved by a driving
authority, no matter how powerful ... (Rajajis speeches). Nevertheless, he had come to the
conclusion that it was too late to go back to a village economy as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi.
This realisation, as well as his acceptance of a modern liberal creed formulated by Swatantra gave
proof of his flexibility and adjustment to changing mores.

Despite his advancing age and frail constitution, he was courageous enough at the age of 80 to lay
the foundation of a new party to fight the well-entrenched Congress. Not many Indians could
summon such courage and determination even at a much earlier age. He was a happy warrior
labouring good on good to fix.

Rajaji had never been a popular leader, not even in his home state. An intellectual leader can never
be a populist leader. He had never acquired enough following in his home state to help him build a
strong Swatantra party there. In North India, he had been much less popular. In fact, he had incurred
a great deal of odium on himself in 1941, by advocating the right of self-determination for Muslim
majority areas, as a result of which, he was accused of trying to disrupt the unity of the country.
Eventually this right was conceded and Pakistan came into being. Much later, Rajaji made another
very unpopular statement unpopular with North Indian Hindus supporting the creation of a
Punjabi suba which also had to be conceded despite vociferous protests. Rajajis contretemps was
that he was endowed with the rare faculty of being able to see into the future much more clearly
than any of his countrymen. More, he was not at all hesitant in expressing his views publicly without
any regard to the resulting unpopularity. Quite a number of seers have been crucified on account of
their insight into the future and expression of unpopular views.

Labouring under the same handicap of narrow vision as my countrymen, I could not follow the logic
of a couple of actions of Rajaji.

On 8th April 1971, the General Council of the party met at Bombay to review the electoral reverses
suffered by the party during the March elections when Mrs. Gandhi swept the polls to victory with
overwhelming majority. Masani tendered his resignation as President of the party. Making his
statement, he read out a letter from Rajaji about the reverses and future policy of the party. I was
anxiously waiting, during the reading of the letter, for a mention of Rajajis own part in forging the
alliance despite Masanis reluctance and doubts. Rajaji had come to some arrangement with Kamraj
over the matter. That was clear from the well-timed sudden popping of Kamraj at Kalki Building soon
after the National Executive had taken the decision in favour of the alliance. He was all smiles,
looking pleased as punch and obviously approving the decision arrived at. Yet, there was not a word
in the long letter about his own part in the affair. Such a mention would not have made the slightest
difference to the respect we gave him or his reputation. Was it a lapse of his prodigious memory? He
was getting on in years, after all.

The I.C.S. Triad and V. P. Menon

All four may be taken together because they were all retired civil service men, though Menon did
not belong to the Imperial service. All of them had distinguished service records behind them.
Menon and H. M Patel had been singled out for praiseworthy mention by Campbell-Johnson in his

49
book Mission with Mountbatten for their work during the period immediately preceding the
partition of the country.

V. P. Menon

Menons great service to the nation in integrating the princely states is now well known and needs
no repetition. However, after the birth of the party, he did not figure much in the central leaderhip.
He was getting on in years and led a retired life.

H. M. Patel

The party expected a great deal from the other three. They were expected to give to the party the
benefit of trained minds and vast experience of organisational nature, in laying the foundations of
the party on a sound and stable footing. Their performance in the party, however, did not come to
our expectations. They did not exhibit any keenness about building a sound organisation for the
party. They did not impress upon the party the unavoidable necessity of raising a corps of well-
trained workers. Mr. Patel was good at drafting and interpretation, and Dandeker could speak
flawless English with the proper accent, but party organisation was not their forte.

Patels shortlived presidency proved to be a period of complete stagnation. No new thought was
contributed to the party, no new impetus given, the party was allowed to languish in dreary, daily
routine. At the Baroda General Council meeting, I warned him off the consequences of contesting
the impending Assembly elections without properly trained workers in adequate numbers. In the
absence of devoted workers, the elections tend to attract artful self-seekers and money-grubbers. I
read out to him bits of a detailed letter on the same subject, which I had addressed to the Central
Party office. It had been circulated but had elicited no action. Patel agreed with me about the vital
necessity of trained workers, but added that the impending elections were more important. I
concluded that the top leadership of the party had made up its mind to build the party through
elections only.

Patels election at Bangalore is an important episode in this story of Swatantra. At that election
meeting of the General Council, Piloo Mody made his second effort to contest for the office of the
President of the party. He had tried once before, in 1969, and had been defeated. At that time, the
plans of the triumvirate Mody, Amersey and Madhu Mehta were not generally known. Masani
had resigned following the 1971 debacle and the pro-tempore presidency of Dandeker had come to
its appointed end. New office-bearers had to be elected.

The triumvirate as it was to reveal itself later offered to contest the three top offices: Mody for
President, Mehta for General Secretary and Amersey for the office of Treasurer. After withdrawals,
Mehta and Amersey were elected unopposed. There were withdrawals of Modys opponents too,
but Patel and Mody were left in the field to contest. Delhi Party General Secretary,

Arya, went round to ascertain the feelings of the members, because we were getting scared of Mody
getting elected. The conclusion after this rapid opinion poll was that Mody did not go down very well
with the majority of members. His image did not inspire confidence: he was considered too facetious
to create an impression as leader of thparty. Patel seemed to be hesitating. I went along and
whispered in his ear that he had a very good chance to be elected and he should not withdraw. I
button-holed Masani and asked him about the impending contest. He told me that Mody had a good

50
chance. He was probably trying to extract my opinion in an indirect manner. Later, when Patel
approached him for advice, Masani advised him to contest. It turned out that Rajaji had tried to
prevail upon Masani to continue for a year. On his refusal to do so, instructions had been issued to
the Tamil Nadu party to do their best to get H.M.Patel elected. Mody was defeated and Patel
elected.

Although it would be anticipating things a bit, it would be convenient to complete the Patel episode
here. At the next meeting of the General Council held at Bombay on 8th April 1972, the scheme of
things began to unravel. Dr. Cooper, who was Masanis General Secretary and who had continued in
that capacity with Dandeker and then resigned along with him, came out with an elaborate thesis
full of specious arguments justifying the dissolution of the party there and then. Dandeker supported
Coopers suggestion strongly. Alternatively, he suggested that he would resign from the National
Executive and wanted others to do the same, ostensibly to make room for younger people. There
was an implied admission in all this palavar that they had messed up everything and they were ready
to get rid of the party. Political parties have setbacks everywhere, but a dedicated leadership does
not give up if it has faith in its creed. This lack of perseverance, indicated by the readiness to drop
the party like a hot brick spoke not very highly of their belief in their cause.

It was not difficult to see through this concerted action from different angles; an attempt was being
made to ease out Patel in order to make room for Mody. Patel, however, successfully resisted this
multi-pronged pressure by refusing to oblige and postponing the final decision to the next meeting,
which would be held at Madras to have the benefit of Rajajis advice.

Meanwhile, another development took place. A camp was arranged at Khandala to which only a
select few were invited. I was not. Arya, General Secretary of the Delhi party, who was invited,
informed me that various modes of dislodging Patel were considered. In their desperation, the
moving spirits of the meeting even suggested a vote of no-confidence against Patel. However, good
sense prevailed and the crazy notion was not pursued. The alternative finally agreed upon was to get
Dandeker to write to members of the National Executive to resign voluntarily. At Bombay, attempts
were made to get Arya to resign, which he refused to do.

As a result of this campaign for voluntary resignation, I believe, about sixteen or so resignations
were obtained. The problem was, however, solved at Madras and the resignations did not see the
liaht of the day.

Not long before the General Council met at Madras, Patel made a confident statement at a meeting
at Delhi that he did not intend to resign. At Madras, after meeting with Rajaji, Patel announced his
voluntary resignation. Mody became President because there was no other taker. The Swatantra
party was now in the clutches of the triumvirate headed by Mody to play ducks and drakes with.

Rajaji had been explained the situation in the Central Office by Raju, our Executive Secretary. The
party was being deliberately starved of funds by Amersey in order to force Patel to vacate the chair
for Mody. There was no choice left. Rajajis private option about Mody was not flattering at all.
When he asked Raju why Mody was being supported by some sections of the Party, Raju replied that
according to these sections Mody was a dynamic person. Rajajis response was immediate. He said,
Piloo is dynamic enough to say irresponsible things.

51
Madhu Mehta, the least impressive of the triumvirate, wishing to plead for Mody, sought time from
Rajaji, but Rajaji did not oblige.

The persistent eagerness of Mody to take over the arduous responsibility of running the party
according to his own lights is easily understood. He is firmly convinced about his own extraordinary
political acumen and organisational genius. He was keen on demonstrating his expertise by
recovering the ground lost by the party.

N. Dandeker

The only time Dandeker got an opportunity to demonstrate his skills was during his short-lived pro-
tempore General Secretaryship. He tried to work a miracle for the party by contesting the Haryana
elections in 1971. Presumably, he selected Haryana because the party had never had any
organisation worth the name in that state. A person of rather doubtful political reputation was
selected by Dandeker and given the sole charge of managing the elections. Ample funds were placed
at his disposal and the selection of candidates also left to him. Dandeker made the mistake of asking
a member of the Delhi Swatantra party about his estimate of the chances of the party. He was
candid. He replied that no more than three wins could be expected. Dandeker got very annoyed with
him and nearly told him off. Actually, only one candidate got elected, and he defected as soon as the
result was declared! All through the elections, there was no liaison with the Delhi parnext door to
Haryana. We cbncluded that Dandeker did not welt his glory shared by the likes of us. Perhaps, it
was just as well; we were not asked to help; it would have been impossible to work in the milieu
created in Haryana by Dandeker. We did not see any profound political wisdom in putting all the
eggs in one basket, and that basket was already a ragged, worn-out structure.

Organising a political party from scratch was, apparently, beyond the ken of these distinguished civil
service men. They were elites and played the politics of elitism. Perhaps it is not a matter in which
the civil service officers obtain much training. After all, Indian members of the Service (ICS) were
inducted into a running concern. Its early, formative and difficult years in which all the spadework
was done, saw no Indians in the service. The British members of the service laid down the basic
structure, rules, procedures and traditions which were to govern the service. Coming in later, the
Indian members of the service mastered the workings of the running concern admirably, but raising
organisations from the foundation did not come their way.

On the other hand, raising units from the very beginning is routine matter in military training. That
was probably the reason why I persisted in making a nuisance of myself to the senior leaders of the
party with my insistence on raising trained workers. To my mind, they were the sine qua non of any
struggle. It would be suicidal to join battle without an adequate number of well-trained, dedicated
workers on which the party could rely. I may have been presumptuous in my remarks about the
Indian Civil Service, in which case, I owe them an apology and I give it freely; but it would remain a
mystery to me why I was not able to convince them of the prime necessity of raising trained cadres.
Perhaps, the fault was mine; I was not able to put it to them in a convincing manner. On the other
hand, I have a suspicion in the back of my mind, probably without any basis, that they were all in too
great a hurry to succeed. They knew they did not have many years at their disposal, and, rightly felt
they could not wait till an adequate number of workers were raised. Personal ambition took
precedence over party interest. What was required was a leadership that was prepared to put

52
personal ambition aside and proceed on the realisation that no personal political gains would accrue
to them in their lifetime. That sacrifice was not forthcoming from any quarter.

C. C. Desai

He was a remarkable case in a sad way. He was an elite trying to play politics in a mischievous
manner. He was responsible for disrupting the Gujarat unit of the Swatantra party by creating
dissensions over the adoption of a candidate for the Rajya Sabha. The merits of the case apart, the
most important consideration in the mind of a loyal party man should always be whether a given
matter would damage the party. If it was likely to, then he must desist from his design. Apparently,
that consideration did not weigh very heavily with Desai and those who accompanied him to the
Congress party. Actually, he had started creating trouble long before the Gujarat affair. Aster partys
representative on the Select Committee on the Monopolies Bill, he adopted a very hostile attitude
towards private entrepreneurship. It would appear he was trying to please the ruling party for some
reason of his own. It is a great pity, he could not reap any benefit from his changed loyalty before
death carried him off. Desai had wide business interests, and politics for him was only an extension
of his business interests. The tendency to put self-interest before party and national interests is too
tempting for most Indians to resist. At the end of a long and successful career in the civil service and
approaching the twilight of his life, he could not resist such small temptations.

Piloo Mody, Manu Amersey, Madhu Mehta

A successful Cotton broker from Bombay with pretensions for political leadership, Manu Amersey
contested and was elected from the Banaskantha constituency in Gujarat to Lok Sabha in 1967. His
election, however, was declared null and void on account of corrupt practice. He re-contested the
same seat against S.K. Patil, Congress (O) leader and was defeated. As soon as Masani vacated the
Presidents chair and Dandeker finished his pro-tern period, Amersey, who must have waited
impatiently in the wings, felt his long awaited opportunity had arrived. He joined forces with Mody
and Madhu Mehta to form the triumvirate to take the party over and show his prowess. Their plans
were baulked for a time when Mody could not be elected President though Amersey and Mehta
were elected as Treasurer and General Secretary respectively. After this hitch at Bangalore, they lay
quiet for a while. Patel who had been elected President had to be eased out to give the triumvirate a
free hand. This was easily achieved by Amersey by starving the Central office of funds and so making
it impossible for Patel to function.

With Mody launched as President, Amersey felt bold enough to allege that the Party had met with
disaster because of mismanagement by Masani, and he boasted, he was going to put everything
right.

At Agra, Mody gave us a short account of his negotiations with other opposition parties and his
conclusion that there was no progress there because the other parties were not willing to give up
their identities and join in a single party.

Another decision of the triumvirate revealed was that it was going to contest the impending
assembly elections in U.P. in a big way. The announcement sent a shiver down my spine. I was so
familiar with the state of affairs in the U.P. unit of the party having conducted their elections for
years. The old organisers of the state party had been completely wiped out by a bunch of new men

53
who still had to prove their mettle and loyalty to the party. So self-assured was Mody, that he never
thought it worthwhile to get the views of old hands familiar with U.P. politics. Knowing the new
batch of men controlling the state party, I felt certain that Mody in his conceit and self-assurance
was heading for disaster and would drag the party with him. But there was very little I could do
except warn him of what was in store for him. This I did by writing him a letter, which appears in
Appendix V.

Disaster for the triumvirate began earlier than expected. Long before the U.P. polling took place,
Amersey, the proudest of the triumvirate, came to grief. He contested the Sabarkantha seat of the
Lok Sabha the old seat of C. C. Desai and was defeated ignominiously, losing his deposit. After
that discomfiture, he lost all taste for politics, atleast for Swatantra politics. His determination to put
things right for the party also evaporated. Nemesis overtook him very early in his career as the top
leader of the party. He never showed his face again at party meetings except the last meeting at
which the party was all but destroyed. That probably brought him a sense of vengeful satisfaction.

All the three members of the triumvirate suffered from a very common Indian malady unjustified
over-confidence, and self-assurance. It must be a rare pleasure to come across an Indian who did not
overrate himself. Modesty has not come his way and humility he hates to cultivate. No one wants to
be a common or garden person; he must be extraordinary. Invariably, that is his unmaking.

54
ARISTOCRATS INVASION
Soon after the birth of the Swatantra Party, Mr. Nehru described it as a princes party. He gave it two
other names also: Rich mans party and the Helicopter party. These names were not very apt or
appropriate. There were many more princes in his own party and the name princes party would
have been more appropriate applied to the Congress. Also, it was more natural; for princes and rich
men of India, to side with power in order to continue their careers of more and more exploitation.
Only those who saw the dangers of Congress policies and were courageous enough to ignore official
animosity would come to the Swatantra Party.

However, there was a modicum of truth in Nehrus description of the Swatantra Party. The large
number of princes in the Congress party did not control the party, but the much smaller number in
the Swatantra did, at least in some of the northern states. The Nehruvian appellations endowed on
Swatantra did some damage to the party, no doubt, but much more damage was done to it by the
princes and aristocrats who invaded the party. Inspite of initial successes and consequent euphoria,
these invaders turned out to be the undoing of the Swatantra. Unwittingly, they acted as an in-built
fifth column, as I shall explain later.

Their entry into the party gave some initial push to the party, but drawbacks attached to them were
more numerous and damaging. What Talleyrand said of the Bourbons was equally true of the
princes in the Swatantra Ils nnt rien appris ni rien oublie. They had learnt nothing and forgotten
nothing. The winds of change that swept through the length and breadth of the country had filed to
sweep away ancient cobwebs from their minds. They still lived in the past the old days of absolute
power. They had not accepted democracy in their heart of hearts. They still surrounded themselves
with old time courtiers, parasites and sycophants. These people accompanied them into the party
not out of conviction or faith in the principles of the party, but as retainers follow their feudal chiefs.
These parasitic hoards brought with them their habits of intrigue, exclusion and monopoly, lest any
new elements approach the chief and spoil their chances of pecuniary benefits.

In Rajasthan, the picture was further complicated by the rigidly held conception of caste, status, and
the hostility and animosity that flowed from them. Rajput princes who had captured the party stood
on their ancient prestige and status and refused to make overtures to win over the Jat elements.
Empty Rajput pride, totally unjustifiable, was responsible for aggravation of the already sour
relations. Raja Man Singh of Bharatpur found it difficult to continue in the party on this account.
Bikaner did not come in because he though his status deserved the highest position in the Rajasthan
party which was impossible on account of Jaipur.

Similarly, the Raja of Ramgarhs position in the Bihar party prevented many high caste Rajputs from
coming in. Dharbhanga, a Brahmin, belonged to too high a caste to occupy a position under
Ramgarh.

The presence of princes and zamindars laid the party open to the charge of being a party of
reactionaries; but a much greater drawback, which ultimately broke the back of Swatantra, was the
monopolisation of control by the princes in several states. If the chief left, the party collapsed. That
is what happened in Bihar after the departure of Ramgarh.

Ramgarh attended the preparatory convention of the Swatantra Party in August 1959. As mentioned
before, the subject of forming a non-communist opposition party had been broached with him by

55
Masani long before the Swatantra was even conceived, without any positive outcome. At the
preparatory convention, he announced: I have been sent here as an observer by the Janata Party
(Ramgarhs party in Bihar). The views that have been expressed here have inspired me. I can assure
you that the Janata party of Bihar will decide to co-operate with you whole-heartedly He could make
such a statement confidently on behalf of the Janata party because the party was in his pocket: it
was his creation and at his beck and call.

Sometime in 1960, Masani invited me to lunch. During the meal, he revealed that he was on his way
to Patna on a mission to Ramgarh who was to be brought into the party. He took me by surprise by
asking my opinion. My instinctive response was in the negative. My instinctive distrust of princes
was responsible for my answer: I did not like the princes invading the party, although I did not say so
to Masani at that time. Masani said that Rajaji insisted on it. I was too small a fry to counter Rajajis
advice.

In January 1961, I was sent on an inspection tour of the U.P. and Bihar parties. This was an
innovation started by Masani. During these inspections, one was expected to go through the
membership records and ascertain if there was any bogus enrolment. I could not meet Ramgarh
because he was on tour, but I was greatly impressed by the party office organisation which had the
appearance of a commercial firm. The party had its own printing press where a party paper was
published. It also had the facility of a repair shop well equipped for repairs of party jeeps. I left Bihar
with a high opinion of the organising genius of Ramgarh.

S. K. D. Paliwal of the U.P. party had been operated upon a few days before my arrival at Lucknow
and was convalescing in a local hospital. I visited him there, but found it difficult to like him. He was
a typical old Congressman smooth, oily and hypocritical.

The Raja of Ramgarh, I met for the first time at the second party convention at Agra. Just before
lunch, I was having a quiet drink with S. Lal Singh and a few others at Lauries, when a dark, heavily
built, rather unprepossekig man in a loose kurta and a shawl round his shoulders slipped into the
vacant chair in front of me. Without much ado, he started criticising the party leadership ending with
the peroration: They will soon be very sorry men. Complete silence greeted his harangue. Taking
no hint, he went on in the same vein, till I interrupted by asking: Raja Sahib, do you know anything
about party discipline? He left quietly.

The next time I had something to do with Ramgarh affairs was at Bombay in February 1963. The
General Council had been called to deal with Ramgarhs complaint against Masani. The story dated
back long before the 1962 elections. Ramgarh did not like the idea of co-existence with Jankinandan
Singh, uncle of Dharbanga, who had his own small party, the Jan Congress. Ramgarh wanted to be
the king of the Swatantra in Bihar. There was trouble over the list of names for election to the Rajya
Sabha which the Central Office felt had not been cleared properly. Serious doubts about Ramgarhs
loyalty to the party arose when he succeeded in retaining the bicycle symbol of the Janata party for
the 1962 elections. It was an indication that Ramgarh did not want to lose his old identity and his
loyalty to the party was tentative.

In 1961, the situation became so bad that separate spheres were allotted to Jankinandan Singh and
Ramgarh. Jankinandan Singh was allowed to nominate his own candidates and draw funds for the
same. This was greatly resented by Ramgarh and his followers. Ramgarh did not fare so well in the

56
1962 elections. To explain the poor results, the Bihar unit of the party, which was Ramgarh really,
sent in an appeal to the General Council, making all kinds of allegations against the Central Office
and Masani. The appeal made out that the poor results in the elections were due to Masanis
meddling with Bihar affairs out of motives of personal hostility to Ramgarh. The appeal reflected the
feelings of Ramgarh, but it was sent to the Central Office only after he had left for Europe. It was this
appeal which we had been summoned to deal with. The most disturbing element in the appeal was a
new principle enunciated by Ramgarh. He demanded that all decisions concerning Bihar must be
taken on the soil of Bihar, meaning by Ramgarh. Further he claimed: If I am to function as the
instrument of the peoples will, then I must not be fettered from above or below. In his own mind,
he was the divinely appointed voice of the people. Letat, Ce mai. I am the state, nobody can
interfere with my dictat. This kind of paranoid affliction if it spread to other state chiefs, would be
the death-knell of the party.

Before the General Council could come to grips with the Ramgarh issue for which it had been
summoned, Munshi got up and announced that the whole matter had been amicably settled.
Ramgarh had apologised and withdrawn all the allegations he had made against Masani in his own
elaboration of the appeal. In the letter of apology, however, there was not a word of contrition. I got
up and protested that this hole and corner method of settling matters behind the back of the
General Council which had been specially summoned to discuss the matter. Addressing Rajaji, I
asked if that was the conception of democracy in our party. If matters were to be settled in this
manner, why put us to the expense and inconvenience of travelling to Bombay from the four corners
of the country?

Munshi was furious; he fretted and fumed and shouted at me, telling me to shut up. Ranga came to
his support. Masani, acting the peacemaker, advised me to keep quiet. The upshot of the whole
matter was that the compromise was accepted, after R. N. Singh Deo had lent further support to
Ramgarh.

Later, it turned out that what transpired in the open session was only a part of the compromise.
After satisfying the General Council, Ranga and Munshi confabulated and handed full powers to
Ramgarh which was what he wanted. So Ramgarh won all the way. The confabulators had yet to
learn that settlements that compromise fundamental principles only breed more trouble.

That evening at a public meeting at Shivaji Park, I found Masani very sorry for himself. He regretted
putting a lid on my protest at the Council meeting in the morning. He was so disgusted with the
whole affair that he felt like resigning from the party.

Next morning, a restricted meeting took place in Masanis office at the party office. The (late) S.
Basant Singh, Zamindar, Dr. Bakshi, myself and many others attended. Masani unfolded his tale of
woe; his sense of frustration at the underhand dealings of Ranga and Munshi. Rajaji, he said, was
with him in this matter. I explained that there was no need to be downcast over this matter; because
there was no likelihood of there ever being a time when work could be carried on in harmony and
accord. There would always be Rangas and Munshis to throw spanners into the works. I suggested
that he make up his mind to streamline the party machine with the help of a corps of devoted
workers while Rajaji was still available for help. This was the first occasion when I stressed the need
for raising a corps of workers. There would be many more subsequent occasions when I would be
impelled to stress the same point, but alas, with no result.

57
On this occasion, however, a tentative scheme to raise funds to establish a trust with the specific
aim of training workers was agreed upon. The meeting then dispersed. My notes made at the time
say: I doubt very much, if anything positive is going to come out of this resolve. If he perseveres and
raises a corps of workers, there is some hol5lkof infusing some strength into the party and take it out
of the clutches of Rajas, Maharajas, Munshis and Rangas.

The first result of the new arrangement permitting full overall control of Ramgarh over the party in
Bihar, was that the Janiknandan group defected to the Congress party. Soon Ramgarh also came to
the conclusion that he did not have much in common with the Swatantra. He began to negotiate
with the Congress. When this came to the knowledge of the Central office, Munshi and Dayabhai
were despatched to Bihar to conduct on-the-spot enquiries. In their joint report, they confirmed the
disloyalty of Ramgarh and recommended his expulsion from the party. Ramgarh joined the Congress
government of Bihar along with his Assembly members and then defected from the Congress to join
a successor government. By that time, he had lost all credibility and ceased to matter politically.

The Ramgarh affair was the first manifestation of the vicious arrogance of the princes and
aristocrats. Ramgarhs performance was crude; he was not a man of any tact or finesse. The
Rajasthan princes who controlled the party there started to tighten their control over the party by
slowly ejecting all the democratic elements from the upper echelons of the party and replacing them
with their own retainers. I could see this process of strangulation of the party during my official visits
to Jaipur.

The Raja of Mankapur, President of the U.P. party, was an old Congressman of considerable political
experience. He had been a member of the U.P. assembly for a number of years. He was modest,
suave of manner and popular. He had brought a good deal of strength to the party. Somehow, he
could not get on with S.K.D. Paliwal, also an old Congressman, who had left the Congress because of
its excessive socialism and formed his own party Gram Raj Party. The Bihar type of division of
spheres was tried here too, but it did not work. Real motivations may have been different, but the
overt reason given by Paliwal was his keenness to see democratic elements uppermost in the party.
Matters came to head in a dispute over the election of their Executive Council. Two mutually
contradictory lists were produced: one by Paliwal and the other by Mankapur. There were
allegations and counter-allegations and the whole affair got very complicated.

The Central Office sent me down to Lucknow to preside over a specially convened meeting which
would decide and adopt one of the two lists. As soon as the meeting started, mutual recriminations
laced with all kinds of charges began flying around. Paliwal wanted fresh elections held. I had to
remind the meeting that the time for recrimination was gone. There was no going back to scratch
either. The letter from the party headquarters was clear; the meeting had merely to decide which of
the two lists was to be adopted as official. I added that if the kind of discussion I had listened to for
the last one hour continued, we would get nowhere; we could go on till the early hours of the
morning without coming to a decision of any kind. I suggested that votes be taken to come
to4positive decision. My suggestion was accepted by both the parties; votes were taken and
Mankapur won. That was the beginning of the end of Paliwals association with the party. His failing
health following an operation he had to undergo did not permit him to remain active very long. My
original unfavourable impression of Paliwal was confirmed. Like most Indians, he was aggressive,

58
contentious and illogical. The general impression about his personality was not prepossessing. On
the other hand, Mankapur was patient, soft spoken and not at all aggressive.

The Orissa princes with their Ganatantra Parishad joined the Swatantra in 1962 after prolonged
negotiations. Till then, they had been sharing power with the Congress in a coalition government.
Actually, it was Biju Patnaik who eased them out because of their secret negotiations with the
Swatantra while still his partners in the government. They had some success initially; they were able
to exclude the Congress and form a coalition with P. M. Pardhan. It looked as if things were going to
get along smoothly, but the scandal of the Tendu leaves got them. It was alleged that R. N. Singh
Deos department had accepted a low tender for a consideration. The coalition government of
Pardhan cum Singh Deo lost and the Congress got back into the saddle. Singh Deo, during his chief
ministership, had appointed a committee to enquire into the charges of corruption against Patnaik,
the Congress chief minister. To pay him back in his own coin, the incoming Congress government
appointed a committee of enquiry against Singh Deo to enquire into the Tendu leaf scandal. Charges
against Patnaik were mitigated to mere formal improprieties, but Singh Deo was found to be guilty
of financial irregularities. The only defence Singh Deo could offer for himself (it appeared in the
press) was that the enquiry was politically motivated. He did not controvert the facts on which the
committee had based its condemnation. He quite forgot that motivations, howsoever questionable,
became justified when they revealed reprehensible facts. What humiliation! What ignominy! What a
stigma! The only Swatantra government in the country fell victim to peculation. The Chief Minister,
leader of the state Swatantra party, was found guilty of lack of integrity the two crimes Swatantra
had always nailed to the Congress governments.

Rajasthan was, perhaps, the most outstanding example of the corroding influence of the princes on
the party. The affairs of the Rajasthan party illustrate very aptly the drawbacks attached to the
princes. First their mutual feuds; their caste and status considerations prevented many other princes
from joining the party. Some examples have already been given. Second, the leadership they
provided was indifferent and quite often insincere. Personally, they were not capable of maintaining
a sustained campaign for carrying the party and its principles to the people to win wide public
support for it. Their retainers on whom they depended for such efforts followed the old courtier
habits of keeping from the prince all unpleasant facts. Thirdly, they were afraid of broadbasing the
party, lest the new elements disown them.

Therefore, their sustained efforts to keep the party confined to their retainers or those who could
relied upon for their allegiance.

In my official capacity, I had the maximum number of dealings with the Rajasthan party, inspecting
its records and conducting its elections. I notice the gradual squeezing out of all those whose fealty
was suspect or who were inclined to take an independent line. It was a very short-sighted policy to
rely on the influence of the old Durbar. It could not last for ever; it was waning already. In 1971,
Prithvi Singh, son of Maharani Gayatri Devi, could not get himself elected from Dausa constituency
which was an old Swatantra constituency and which he had held before.

That defeat was the cause of an episode which sheds quite a lurid light on the mutual hostilities of
the Swatantra leadership Ranga, Masani relations and princely doings. The National Executive
appointed a committee to inquire into the causes of Dausa defeat. To my sins, I was made the
chairman of this committee, late S. Basant Singh being the other member.

59
Prithvi Singh led his tutored witnesses in a long line. They all repeated the same story. Mandhata
Singh, the General Secretary of the Rajasthan party, who was to lead evidence for the other side,
was unwilling to do so because, he said, he needed more time to marshal his witnesses. Meanwhile,
all kinds of unseemly allegations were being whispered into my ears, particularly against the
Maharani. One charge was that the party was never given an inkling of the sums of money collected
at election time, and the fleet of jeeps purchased disappeared into thin air after the elections. I keep
on telling the allegationists that they had to produce evidence to substantiate their charges. No
matter how vehemently they preferred their charges, no notice could be taken of them. The
committee could not go on hearsay evidence; it needed solid evidence. Actually, between ourselves,
S. Basant Singh and I, had been forced to a tentative conclusion that if the enquiry proceeded as it
had up to then, it would be very difficult to get to any solid conclusions. Mandhata Singh, a Bar-at-
Law, I found to be an indecisive person.

The Maharawal of Dungarpur, president of the Rajasthan party non-cooperated with the enquiry
committee, refusing to appear before it on one excuse or the other. How could a prince appear
before a couple of commoners and become accountable to them? That would be lese majeste. Also,
he had to safeguard the dignity of a princess of a senior house of Rajasthan. To afford him an
opportunity to present his side of the story, I sent him a questionnaire. One of the questions therein
pertained to the allegations about financial irregularities. Instead of clutching at this opportunity
afforded him to emphatically contradict such insidious insinuations and send a cogent reply in
rebuttal of the same, he decided to fly into a holy rage at the very suggestion in the questionnaire.
The king .can commit no wrong and no questions can be asked about royal actions. He questioned
the very right of the committee to ask such a question. There could be only two conclusions:
common sense and could draw one? A charitable one, that is beyond his comprehension to realise
that the questionnaire afforded him a wonderful opportunity to set at rest such wild imputations;
and, second, less charitable, that there was some truth in the allegations which had to be
suppressed. Maharawal, probably, had no experience of courts of enquiry. He did not know that
such questions are asked merely because one side may bring up such matters, and a good enquiry
officer should bring such matters to the notice of the accused party to enable it to come prepared,
lest it is caught unawares.

After this, the royal machinery went into action and persuaded Ranga to stop the enquiry. Ranga,
without as much as a word of formal apology for the inconvenience caused or, of appreciation,
stopped the proceedings of the committee. Ranga was never very strong on such formalities. As a
matter of fact, I doubt, if he needed any persuasion in the matter. He was only too glad to outsmart
Masani who had insisted on the enquiry.

60
SWATANTRAS FAILURES
As I mentioned earlier, the various elements that the Swatantra Party put together under its fold
were far from homogeneous. Quite the contrary. They were un-mixable. If mixed together, they
could only lead to deplorable reactions.

Princes, freshly alienated from autocratic power, still looking back with longing, lingering looks to the
days that were gone for ever; wishing the glorious past to come back in some mysterious way.

Landed zamindars of U.P. and Bihar whose zamindaris had already been abolished and who were
now fighting a rear-guard action against further dispossession, by the advancing tide of socialism.

Industrialists scared to death by the increasing threat of the ever-spreading wave of nationalisation.

Last, but not the least, career politicians in search of a fresh platform.

The task of fusing these discordant elements into a united, homogeneous mass by infusing into them
dedication to party creed and party discipline was the formidable task undertaken by the Swatantra.
The princes were not amenable to party discipline. They were psychologically incapable of accepting
democratic ways and mix with the people. Some of the non-princely leaders, too, were not very
liberal in their outlook. They had accepted the Swatantra creed with mental reservations. The liberal
element in the party was small and weak. There was Masani and a handful of others. Non-liberal
elements had established themselves in positions of strength. Little wonder the Swatantra did not
succeed in its formidable task.

As far as strategy goes, the political options open to the leadership were not many. They were
limited by time and funds. Limitation of time was imposed by the Nagpur resolution. It was looked
upon as the first step towards expropriation of land and ultimate dictatorship. There was urgency,
too. Steps had to be taken expeditiously to awaken the country generally and the peasantry
particularly to the looming menace. Parliament was the fighting ground immediately available.

Funds did not come in liberally from sources that should have been supremely interested in fighting
statism. Many of the big business houses did not respond to the call of the Swatantra at all. They
were too busy cultivating the rulers, buying their favours with plentiful supply of black money.
Prospects of immediate gains were too alluring for them to be discarded in favour of long-term
interests. Those who did help gave too little and too late. By and large, the Indian business
community did not realise that the situation in the country demanded sacrifices on a large scale to
safeguard their own interests. They did not realise that it was better to lose half their wealth now so
that they could keep the other half safe from expropriation.

An overall limitation had been imposed by Rajaji who had laid down that even in the worst possible
circumstances, the party was not to turn its thoughts from constitutional methods. He sternly
warned his party men not to take the fight to the streets. Irrespective of the consequences the rule
of law was sacrosanct.

The only remaining option for the party was to fight in Parliament. All thoughts were turned towards
Delhi; because it was rightly judged to be the source of all corruption and corrosion of democracy.

61
The alternative strategy, Maos Strategy, (Conquer Cities from Villages), was out of question for
several reasons. The villagers were too ignorant, steeped in ancient thinking and totally unaware of
the far-reaching changes taking place around them. They were too difficult to arouse tvuzspond to
imminent dangers to their lands. We had a very bitter experience of peasant passivity as well as
treachery during the campaign mounted by the party to oppose the Seventeenth Amendment to the
Constitution an enabling measure for the introduction of Joint Co-operative Farming. Workers of the
Delhi unit of the Swatantra party and I went from village to village warning them of the
consequences of the Amendment. They all seemed to understand and enthusiastically promised to
come to Delhi to join the Farmers March to Parliament organised by the party in connection with
protests against the Amendment. We were very pleased with the response we had aroused. On the
appointed day, however, we were horrified to find that no more than fifty turned up out of the
thousand who had promised to come.

The Swatantra had not been able to gain a firm foothold in several states. Bengal and Kerala were
strongly leftist and Swatantra had no appeal for them. In Madras, the home state of Rajaji, the party
failed to gain strength. Maharashtra had never swerved from its one-eyed loyalty to the Congress
and Madhya Pradesh was too backward and tribal to understand the message of the Swatantra.

The Northern states were, by and large, in the hands of princes and aristocrats whose commitment
to the party was marginal. They did precious little to spread the Swatantra message down to the
villages.

On account of all these handicaps, the strategy of working through villages was an inordinately long
policy and could not be adopted for practical reasons. Gujarat was the only exception where the
peasants responded massively to the Swatantra gospel, but there too, the Rajas and the Rajputs
created trouble.

The leadership did not attach due importance to some of the essential elements of the campaign.
The Swatantra gospel required proselytisation on an extensive scale. Apostles were in very short
supply. A corps of trained, devoted workers, functioning under the direct control of the centre, could
have sown the gospel far and wide and counteracted the prevailing socialist rhetoric.

Cadres

In February 1964, the party convention at Bangalore decided to convert the party into a cadre party.
The term active worker was coined and an attempt made to raise the annual subscription for the
active worker to Rs.10/-. Others could join as ordinary members by paying fifty paise only. I
remember how forcefully Ramgarh protested against the proposed new subscription. I could not
understand why a select body of men who elected to devote themselves to active party work could
not pay the paltry sum of Rs.10/- to the party in a year. The

protestors, I felt, were not revealing their real motives. There could be only two explanations: bogus
membership or recruitment of their own retainers for whom they would have to pay themselves.

Action to implement the resolution about active workers was peculiar. No attempt was made to
formulate a detailed scheme for the training of cadres. The so-called cadres, in fact, became a select
group of members, who, in return for a larger subscription, received voting rights. Cadre, by
definition, is a permanent framework or nucleus of trained men whose job it is to raise more of their

62
own kind as well as those who work devotedly in the field. Such a body of men the party never
raised: the real meaning of the word cadre escaped the party. A kind of beginning was made; a
Swatantra Sevak Camp was held in Hyderabad, but there was no follow up.

To me, it appeared that the lack of such a body of men was a fundamental weakness, which would
handicap the party always. Therefore, I began to stress the vital importance of this aspect of party
work.

By 1968, I must have become a nuisance to the leadership in the matter of raising and training
workers. They tried to pacify me by asking me to write an article on the subject of training of cadres.
The article was published in the souvenir brought out on the occasion of the party convention at
Bhubaneswar. The article pointed out, inter alia, that the only rational way of raising a political party
from scratch was through the help of trained workers men who would be ready to go out and
spread the Swatantra gospel all over the country. After all, it was not reasonable to expect senior
leaders to do that job. For political work among the middle and lower classes, persons derived from
the same classes, would be the best medium. The article also made the point that the party had
attracted influential people, e.g. industrialists, businessmen and princes. But it could not expect
them to go down to the lower strata of the society and carry the party message there. And that was
where the greatest support for the Congress lay. Some of these people, the princes particularly, had,
no doubt, brought their followers with them; but their loyalty was to their chiefs and not to the
party. If the chiefs walked out, the followers would follow suit. The unfortunate example of Ramgarh
was quoted who left the party, bag and baggage with all his followers. Also, it is extremely
discouraging to workers, who might be attracted to the party out of sheer conviction, to find the big
personalities and their followers monopolising all the plums particularly at election time.

The party was obliged to patronise and propitiate people of influence, but of doubtful commitment
to the party, because it was in a hurry to raise its strength in the legislatures of the country. This,
however, could not serve the interests of the party. The party must have its own workers rather than
depend on intermediaries, no matter how powerful.

Apart from securing space in the souvenir, I do not think, the article attracted any serious notice at
either the headquarters or the state level. Certainly, no action to put any of its suggestions was
taken. However, I kept rubbing the subject in. By 1970, I had made myself such a nuisance on
account of my pet theme, that Mr. S. V. Raju, our Executive Secretary and my friend, finally agreed
to circulate an expurgated version of a detailed paper on the state of the party organisation with
special reference to raising and training of cadres which I had submitted to the headquarters. This
was done at the General Council meeting held that year. It met the same fate as the one published
in the souvenir. It is now attached to this as Appendix IV.

Among other things, the paper also pointed out that the total preoccupation of the party with
parliamentary activity was, to some extent, responsible for neglect of essential organisational tasks.
Parliamentary work, the paper pointed out, was necessary. An effective opposition to our left
swinging government must be built, and to that end, a strong parliamentary fagade must be
maintained. But there were other more important tasks that the party could neglect only at its own
peril. The utility of parliamentary work was very limited in our country because of its very limited
impact on public opinion, which was largely illiterate or semiliterate. Not many people read what is
printed by the press and still less understand what they read; certainly not its significance and

63
implications. Even among the so-called educated, only a minuscule followed the press intensely and
intelligently. In such conditions, attempts to spread the party gospel through parliamentary
speeches was an exercise in futility.

The paper concluded that it was the people who needed to be converted to the Swatantra way of
thinking. They were sovereign; they elected members to Parliament and state legislatures, not vice-
versa. The party must concentrate its energies on them mainly. If the party succeeds in carrying
conviction to them, seats in Parliament would follow, but not the other way. By its negligence of this
essential work, the central office deprived itself of a body of devoted workers owing allegiance to
the party and placed itself at the mercy of provincial chiefs whose commitment to the party was
dubious, to say the least.

There were other failures also. One failure was the surprising lack of success of the Swatantra in the
large cities of the country Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Delhi where the population was
educated to a much greater extent than anywhere else was in the country. Madras, the home state
of Rajaji, never gave any great support to the Swatantra. Rajajis personality and his great services to
the country apparently did not cut much ice with the people of his own State. Perhaps his was the
wrong caste! Big industrialists of Bombay, to whom the Swatantra creed should have carried a
special appeal, turned their back on the Swatantra almost from the very beginning, only a few
responding. The Party was not able to score even one electoral success from Bombay, or, for that
matter, from Maharashtra. Outstanding Swatantraites like Masani and Dandeker, had to find
constituencies for themselves in areas other than where they lived and worked. Similarly, Calcutta
and Bengal did not respond even in a small way to the Swatantra. Nor did Delhi show much interest

The party circumvented as it was in every sphere, had little choice but to seek support where it was
obtainable. The princes were still living in their bygone days of absolute power and resented its loss.
If they could not get princely power, why not political power. The latter could, they fondly imagined,
lead to the former. In their limited reasoning, they calculated shrewdly the weakness of the party on
account of its various limitations and decided to lend support to the party in their own way; to
develop the party as their own bailiwick and keep a tight control over it. That is what happened in
Bihar after the withdrawal of Ramgarh. The party was never allowed, therefore, to develop any mass
contacts, and was kept confined to their retainers and hangers on. All others, the recalcitrant ones,
who refused to worship at the princely shrines, were slowly squeezed out.

Only vacuous, irrational minds could have missed the tremendous advantages accruing from a large
following attached to them by bonds of comradeship and admiration for party work and sacrifices.

Sacrifices, however, not many of them were prepared to make. The Rajasthan unit of the party, for
example, refused to support itself through princely contributions and insisted on central subvention.
And they got it.

Nor were they sincere in selecting candidates for parliamentary or state elections. Instead of
selecting persons with known party attachment and devotion, they put up mostly their own kith and
kin. These, if successful, lost interest immediately after being elected, never visiting their
constituencies again. If unsuccessful, they resented bitterly any attempt on the part of the centre to
inquire into the causes of failure, as in the case Prithvi Singhs loss of Dausa constituency. already
referred to.

64
During my Rajasthan visits, I did not notice any eagerness or zeal for party work; they took
everything with princely ease and complacency, waking to activity at the time of elections only. With
great vigour and zeal, they pushed the claims of their bailiwicks before the central executive,
beguiling the central leadership by exaggerating the chances of a resounding electoral success
provided they got liberal financial support. Only once (in 1967) was Rajasthan able to claim a
majority in combination with Jan Sangh, but even that melted away. On their failure to produce a
majority, the Kumbha Ram Arya group (with whom the Swatantra had joined in its anxiety to form a
government) immediately defected from the Swatantra. After that the Swatantra Partys
performance in Rajasthan steadily deteriorated.

I think, Nehru went to unnecessary trouble in describing the Swatantra Party as a party of princes
and rich men in order to make it unpopular with the people. He could have left it to the princes to do
the job. As it is, they strangulated the party quite effectively. In this connection, one cannot but pay
a tribute to Mrs. Gandhi for the service she rendered the country by abolishing the privy purses. It is
not very honourable conduct to resile from a nations pledged word, but the consequences flowing
from this resilement are likely to be beneficial to the country and the princes themselves. What now
appears to be a distressing financial loss would result in their release from the clutches of the
government to which they were held tied like serfs through fear of loss of privy purses. Once a
threat of that type is implemented, there is nothing worse the government can do. You cant
execute a man twice. Loss of privy purses should help them drop attitudes of subservience to the
government and develop courage to think and act independently without fear of governmental
reprimand.

Then there was the failure to absorb other rightist parties in the country. Parties like Ram Rajya
Parishad and the Hindu Mahasabha had ceased to exist by the time the Swatantra appeared on the
scene. They were no more than names with hardly any following. Princely parties like the
Ganatantra Parishad from Orissa and Janata Party of Bihar joined Swatantra with what results, we
have already seen. That leaves only the Jan Sangh as the other rightist party. That party, however, is
absolutely unabsorbable. It lays claim to be an opposition party, but its inveterate hostility towards
other opposition parties makes it anti-opposition. As already pointed out, if it decides to join another
opposition party, it does so with the vicious intention of doing it in. Its hostility to the Swatantra was
fierce because the latter is a secular party with modern ideas. Jan Sangh is a Hindu revivalist party,
and, consequently secularism is anathema to it. Its evil intention towards Swatantra came out in the
open during the so-called Grand Alliance. Therefore, any blame to Swatantra on this score is purely
imaginary.

As mentioned earlier the formation and training of cadre was never seriously undertaken. Also, it
failed to train whatever workers it attracted. It failed to correct the wrong impressions they carried
that the Swatantra had a lot of money to burn. Quite a number of workers who came to the party
were attracted by the lure of money, and it was very difficult for them to adjust to the reality. When
paucity of funds were repeatedly emphasised, they became suspicious and hurled charges of
concealment and embezzlement of money by office-holders. As a matter of fact, except during the
first year of so. the Delhi unit of party did not receive any financial assistance from the centre. If we
ever asked for some help, we were asked to raise funds locally, which, with the help of the centre,
we did for a year or so. Then that source dried up too. Yet we did not escape the insinuations of
helping ourselves with the enormous amount of money doled to us from the centre. Because of the

65
Congress propaganda that the Swatantra was a rich mans party it was extremely difficult for the
workers to digest the fact that the Swatantra did not have a plentiful supply of money. Quite a
number of workers who had come to the Swatantra, lured by money, left in disgust when they did
not find the Swatantra loaded with money.

Workers in a poor country cannot always resist the lure of money, but a number of chiefs of state
parties were no better. It was distressing to find them bent on milking the centre for funds as much
as possible. Their tactics were stereotyped. Exaggerated claims of chances of success at elections
always dazzled the central leadership; there was so much wishful thinking and hoping. Money was
extracted from the centre for as many seats as possible. Candidates put up were poor in quality with
hardly any chances of success. They were usually chiefs friends, quite prepared to contest for a
small consideration. How much money they received and how much remained with the chief was
nobodys business. One chief, to my knowledge, while begging for funds, unashamedly instructed
the candidates to send the money to his personal account since the party had no account.

Minoo Masani The Liberal

This is the appropriate place to consider Minoo Masani in relation to the Swatantra. As far as
individual contributions go, Masanis must be considered inestimable. It would not be an
exaggeration to say that the party came into existence as a result of his spadework. He became its
first General Secretary, and later, its President. In both capacities, he worked untiringly to make it a
success; toured indefatigably, never sparing himself and driving everyone hard a hard taskmaster
indeed! Therefore, it must have been extremely heart-breaking for him to see the party fail. The
anguish with which he acknowledged his failure at the time of his resignation can be easily imagined.

Masani came into the political limelight in 1934, as founder of the now defunct Congress ftcjalist
Party. He resigned from the party he founded when he discovered that many of his colleagues were,
in reality, die-hard communists who were masquerading as socialists. Those colleagues whom he
exposed are today leaders of one or the other of the three Communist parties of India. Masani has
been anti-communist ever since. He believes in parliamentary democracy and is a patron of the
Liberal International. He ran a very efficient party office.

Masani loved to work to a tight schedule flitting from one appointment to the other the whole day
with boundless energy. He was a marvel to a slow coach like me. He had no time to waste on long-
winded people. In fact, he did not seem to have much time to spare for even his own trusted
workers and could never suffer fools gladly. In a country like India, where long-windedness, long
rambling speeches are a distinguishing mark of successful politicians, this was a great drawback for
Masani. Here, every worker expects to be listened to patiently for as long a time as he likes to take,
refusing to pay any heed to limitation of time or sanctity of appointments. To be told that time is up,
is tantamount to a grievous insult.

The pressmen had nicknamed him the inaccessible leader. Dandeker, when he succeeded Masani,
kept up his tradition. The Press felt he was even more inaccessible. They used to chide us for this
shortcoming of our leaders.

Masanis shortness of patience was trying to all who came in contact with him. His mind ran so
furiously fast, flitting from one subject to the other, that he did not even stop to hear the end of a

66
sentence, drawing his conclusion long before the sentence finished conclusion in line with his own
ideas. I had several such experiences with him, and finally, adopted the policy of least resistance, of
letting him draw his own conclusions. I never explained to him that silence does not always mean
agreement. It may mean fundamental difference and unwillingness to controvert. Although a liberal,
he cannot brook opposition even if friendly. Like all men of strong convictions and views, he is very
difficult to dislodge from a position he has once taken. Such minds are inclined to take snap
decisions, missing fine points. Two examples illustrating this come to my mind.

As already pointed out, I was the lone opponent to the alliance with the Jan Sangh. While
emphasising the Jan Sanghs treacherous ways, I made a special reference to its vicious hostility to
other opposition parties in general and the Swatantra in particular. Masani, however, came out
strongly in favour of the Jan Sangh instead of trying to ascertain if I had any solid grounds for my
repugnance to that party. He brushed away my remarks by saying he had no grounds to suspect
treachery from the Jan Sangh.. He added, Vajpayees behaviour towards me is above board. The
Grand Alliance was forged, and the debacle of the 1971 elections followed. Despite Vajpayees
straight behaviour, his party set up a candidate of its own in Rajkot to get Masani defeated. Clearly,
Masani had not gone deeply into the attitudes and policies of the Jan Sangh. He was not aware of
the Jan Sanghs cunning craftiness and its inveterate determination to destroy all other opposition
parties.

After the election disaster, it was a very sorry Masani who called a meeting of the partys
Parliamentary Board to go into the causes of the disaster. I was the only non-member invited to
attend the meeting, probably in recognition of my implacable opposition to any kind of association
with the Jan Sangh. It was a very disappointing as well as an eye-opening experience. I expected that
these senior politicians, having passed through the fire of elections more than once, would come
well prepared with detailed accounts of the overall picture as well as their own experiences in their
constituencies. Nothing of the kind: They talked like novices detailing a few desultory factors about
happenings in their own constituency. No one had expressed even an opinion about the underlying
causes of the disaster that had overtaken the party. No one, for example, brought up the matter of
loss of secular image of the party because of its association with the Jan Sangh. Patodia, in fact, gave
it a clean chit, saying that in his constituency, he had received co-operation from the Jan Sangh. This
was probably true, but there was a method in this Jan Sangh madness. Patodia was singled out for
fair treatment because of his links with the Birlas. Jan Sangh would not like to incur the annoyance of
a millionaire benefactor. After every one had had his say, I was asked if I had any thing to say. Hardly
had I opened my mouth to explain why I mistrusted the Jan Sangh, and why I kept warning the party
against any truck with the Jan Sangh, when Masani shut me up by saying, Well, you were right and
we were wrong. I shut up because I have an inner aversion to inflicting my views on an
unsympathetic audience. The regrettable fact was that an opportunity for discussion for future
edification was lost.

The other incident, which I want to quote as the second of the two illustrations above mentioned,
occurred in June 1971, soon after the disastrous elections of that year. The General Council of the
party had been called in Bombay to consider the situation created by Masanis resignation. All the
members had been invited to lunch by Mr. Lalchand Hirachand, our treasurer. The rendezvous was a
nearby restaurant which turned out to be incommodious. The guests were all squeezed together like
sardines in a tin. But it was pleasant to escape the sapping heat of Bombay in the cool of the air-

67
conditioned restaurant. By the time I could squeeze into the body of the restaurant, all the placds
had been taken. Masani, however, very kindly made room for me next to him. The Bangladesh affair
was at its critical high at that time. India had been inundated with successive streams of refugees
who had to be given food and shelter. Indias food problem, never easy for many years, was not less
acute. Large stocks of food had had to be diverted to feed the poor destitutes who had managed to
escape the inhuman cruelties of the Pakistani troops. Everyone was concerned about the outcome
of the complicated situation.

Masani brought up the subject of Bangladesh by blithely expressing his opinion against military
intervention by India into East Pakistan, as it was then called. It would be disastrous for both the
countries to go to war over Bangladesh. He said, I have a suspicion, on second thought, that he said
so to catch me unaware and get my inner thoughts out. At the time, however, I was taken aback and
wondered if he had studied the situation from all angles. I felt, he could not have come to such a
conclusion, if he had, much less express it with such confidence.

In reply, I explained: My study of the situation forces me to different conclusion. I feel that our
intervention has become an inescapable necessity if we want to save ourselves, Bangaldesh and help
the refugees. I do not think there is any other option. If we evade this responsibility which has been
thrust on us, we shall do so at our peril and to our eternal shame. I added, myown reading of Mrs.
Gandhis pronouncements gives me reason to believe that she is going to intervene. If she is
successful, I went on to say, you and your party and all of us will be finished for the next twenty
years. Such an audacious, rash and imprudent statement, I thought, might sting him to pry deeper
into the matter, to question me about the grounds on which my rash opinions were based. No
questions came. Even if it was his way of dragging my opinion out of me, an attempt to dig deeper
into the matter was indicated, if for no other reason than to make sure that I was not talking
through my hat. There is just one more possible explanation of Masanis gullibility. He would believe
anyone who went to him first with his story.

I wanted, if he had prolonged the discussion, to say that it was not my intention to assert that the
decision to intervene was necessarily correct, or that it would not lead to complidations. The
economic consequences alone would be formidable. The point I would have liked to make was that
the situation as it had developed had left no options for India. Intervention had become inescapable.
Also, I wanted to point out to him that a decision for a certain action in a given situation is based on
the compulsions then prevailing. In politics, it is usually the lesser of the two or several evils: there is
never a free choice. Events force certain decisions and hindsight cannot question their correctness.

No one can deny that Masani worked hard to establish the party on a firm and solid foundation. He
expected loyalty to the party and full commitment to the party ideology. He himself has a strong
sense of discipline, and he expected the same from others. These ideals, however, did not exist in
the lesser leaders and the workers. As already explained, every Indian wants to be treated as a
special case. He loves to break rules. State leaders were not willing to submit to party discipline, and
were always trying to kick over the traces. They had their own axes to grind, and they were not
always clean axes. Their behaviour set a bad example to the lower echelons, and discipline became a
nasty word among the workers. To a great extent, this was at the bottom of anti-Masani feeling.

Masanis notions of party politics were entirely Western which impelled him to try the impossible; to
distil western wine into eastern bottles. That could not be done, and that was his tragedy.

68
The Swatantra Partys effort to revise liberal ideas in India is not the first one; there was a liberal
party in India before which claimed as its members distinguished persons like Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru,
Mr. Jayakar and others. Valiantly, they tried to act as a counter-balance to Mahatma Gandhis radical
politics but lost in the end. For some obscure reasons, liberal ideas have not been able to strike root
in India. This, too, has something to do with the Indian climate.

Temperate climates produce even-tempered men calm, cool, collected and sedate. They tend to
be pragmatic, and do not, as a rule, fancy extremes. The Russian Revolution which might be quoted
to disprove this premise, is really not an exception, since it never received widespread popular
support. It was a revolution imposed by a scheming minority on an impassive majority. Therefore
the, necessity of an all-pervading secret police to keep the people under party control.

Hot climates, on the other hand, tend to produce impetuous, volatile and garrulous people. They
tend to be impatient, wanting quick results with the least effort. Perseverance and moderation do
not appeal to them. Via medias they tend to abhor, because they are slow acting and demand
persistent effort. All these innate drawbacks are inimical to the growth of liberalism.

69
FINALE
The seeds of Swatantras downfall was laid in Bihar, and it sprouted in the shape of Ramgarhs
defection. That was a signpost. The same plants burgeoned in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and were
responsible for the death of the party in those regions. The party in U.P. never recovered from the
deadly blow of Mankapurs death. It carried on in a moribund state, lingering, dragging its existence,
till the entire Executive was thrown bodily out by a bunch of new men with their own deep designs.
They were the crowd that helped Mody in administering the final blow to the party. Thus the
Swatantrawas wiped out from the whole of North India, though it continued to survive in a weak
form in Bombay, Delhi and Madras.

Swatantra leaders did not read the writing on the wall as one state unit of the Party after the other
was snuffed out.

The Grand Alliance proved to be the last straw on the Swatantra camels back. The party lost in more
than one way. It lost its secular image on account of its alliance with a diehard communal party, the
Jan Sangh. The little support it got from the minority communities on account of its secular image
melted away, and its own minority community candidates could not get elected. In the scramble for
seats, the so-called allies did their best to do each other down by grabbing each others seats on one
excuse or another. The Swatantra, in order to prove its honesty of motives, yielded many of her
seats. Actually, there was no real alliance, no mental acceptance of each other. No common
programme or policy was evolved, the clashing policies of different parties remained undisturbed.
The real purpose of the alliance, despite all loud public talk, remained parochial, selfish and
amazingly short-sighted. Suspicion gathered ground that the real purpose of the entire drama was to
exclude the Swatantra party. The other three parties ganged up against it. The worst offenders in the
whole show were the old Congress foxes. They had held power for such a long time before they
were ousted by Mrs. Gandhi that it had become impossible for them to exist in the wilderness. They
were not capable of realising that their days were done. They kept on manoeuvring to jump back
into power again. The whole affair clearly demonstrated the narrow mental horizons of the old
foxes. There has always been a dearth of political wisdom among the post-Independence Congress
rulers; they have yet to produce a statesman. Politicians, there are innumerable.

The results of the 1971 elections to Parliament were disastrous not only for the Swatantra, but for all
political parties in opposition, especially the non-Communist opposition parties. However, the
Swatantra was the only to come to grief. The election results set into motion a series of mysterious
events that led to the near eclipse of the party.

At the General Council meeting at Bombay, in June 1971, called to review the Partys performance in
the General Elections of 1971, Masani submitted his resignation. In his letter of resignation, he
observed, inter alia, I have done my bit of heart-searching. On such occasions, it is good to recall
the advice Gandhiji used to give: turn the searchlight inwards. It is in such a spirit of self-criticism
that one should approach the current situation, which calls for courage of two kinds. First, the
courage to carry on the fight for ones objectives even though the form or method of this fight might
change; and, secondly, the courage to admit ones mistakes and learn from them. He did not fail to
emphasise that he would not be leaving the party; would work for it according to his own light and
would always be available for any advice or help.

70
The sum and substance of his long speech was that he was resigning to make room for aver person
who would be able to manage things better. He mentioned that the military always replaced a
defeated general. That, however, did not apply to his case; because no one was trying to replace
him. Also, he forgot to mention the naval tradition which requires the captain of a ship to go down
with it and not abandon it!

After lunch, before the session began, I approached him, and told him point blank that the grounds
he had given for his resignation had carried no conviction to me. He was frank and explained that
there were many other reasons which he had withheld. He was fed up with the state of indiscipline
in the party. He was particularly bitter against the Orissa Rajas for not having accepted his advice to
sit in the opposition since they could not form a government by themselves. That way, the
Swatantra would have maintained parliamentary traditions and escaped association with party
leaders of dubious political reputation. Later developments proved the correctness of Masanis
advice. The ministry broke up because of defections. All that the Orissa Swatantra had to show was
the smudge of a tendu leave enquiry.

When the meeting started after lunch, I was requested by Raju to move the resolution accepting
Masanis resignation. I saw in this an attempt to shut my mouth. But it was not realised by Raju that
one could move such a resolution without commending it! I agreed. In any case, I knew there was no
chance of the resolution being defeated; so many hungry wolves were waiting with their tongues
hanging out. In moving the resolution, I marshalled arguments against Masanis justifications, and
expressed surprise that he should be leaving the Party in the lurch at a crucial time. I reminded him
that Mr. Churchill did not resign the leadership of his party after being defeated in the first post War-
II elections. He won later and became the Prime Minister of Great Britain. While putting the
resolution to vote, I made it quite clear that l did not commend the resolution. Each member must
decide for himself to support or oppose the resolution. All I had done was to place the facts before
them. The acceptance of the resolution was a foregone conclusion. Masani himself had declared in
his speech that there was no chance of his changing his mind. It was carried, and there followed a
mad scramble to rush in where angels feared to tread. One of the suggestions was that Ranga be
brought back. It did not seem to find much favour. Piloo Mody who had his eye on the chair for a
long time was dying to get himself hoisted in the presidential chair. Most of us felt, that that would
be disaster on disaster for the party. His image in the public eye was that of a Peter Pan. A sigh of
relief went up when Dandeker agreed to accept the responsibility on a pro-tern basis for a period of
six months. A catastrophe had been averted for the time being.

Nevertheless, the prospect for the future was very bleak and discouraging. As already stated, R. C.
Cooper, who had been general secretary during Masanis tenure as president, displayed amazing
foresight and political sagacity in advising the dissolution of the party there and then. Had this been
acceptable to the majority then, it would have saved the triumvirate of Mody, Amersey and Mehta a
great deal of sordid manoeuvring to dissolve the party. However, the idea did not find favour with
the majority. One argument advanced against the immediate dissolution was that members did not
like to face their followers to explain the indecent haste in dissolving the party. Ironically enough,
when the dissolution was manoeuvred by Mody , the same members forgot to advance the old
argument and hastily lined up behind Mody. How did they manage to face their followers this time?

71
Six months later, when Dandekers pro-tem presidency drew to its end, the General Council was
summoned at Bangalore to elect the new National Executive and its office-bearers. Now the
triumvirate had its long awaited opportunity to capture the party. The events that led to the election
of Mr. H. M. Patel as Party President have been narrated earlier.

We heaved a sigh of relief a second time when H. M. Patel was elected; we had obtained a reprieve
for the party. Meanwhile we earnestly hoped that Patel would bring his extensive service experience
to bear upon the partys affairs and put new life into it by re-organising it on sound lines.

It proved to be a pipe dream; Patel proved to be a big disappointment. He spared little time for party
work, much less, bring in any new ideas to give the party fresh impetus.

On 6th November 1971, Patel called a meeting of the General Council at Baroda. During the
proceedings, the question of contesting the impending State Assembly elections came up. I warned
him that there was no point in fighting elections without committed workers of our own. I drew his
attention in this connection to my letter to the Central office of the party concerning training of
workers. That letter had been collecting dust there. I do not think he had even seen my letter. I
made bold to tell him that unless he paid full attention to the training of workers, the party will keep
going downhill and he would go the way of his predecessors. He agreed with my premise, but, he
said, the impending elections were more important and urgent. Like Dandekar in Haryana, he too
wanted to contest elections without the help of trained workers and, in many cases, hardly any
organisation.

Before the elections were actually held, many important events took place: the Bangladesh
campaign was successfully concluded; Mujib was released; he flew back to Dacca via Delhi where he
received a heros welcome and Mrs. Gandhi paid a return visit to Dacca. All these events caught the
public imagination and evoked admiration. The Indira Gandhi wave now reached towering heights.
Assembly elections were held in the midst of a mad euphoria. Their results were a foregone
conclusion. The sorry tale of the March elections was repeated: Swatantra lost all along the line,
even in States where it had been fairly strong before.

The scene now shifts to the next General Council meeting which was held on 8th and 9th April 1972.
Some important developments took place. Dr. Cooper sent in a long paper repeating his previous
advice of winding up the party. Dandeker declared his intention to resign from the National
Executive to make room for younger people. Masani sat silently in the wings in masterful inactivity
watching the fun unfold. It looked like an ill-concealed conspiracy to hang the presidency round the
neck of Piloo Mody and let him sink with it. At the time, motivations were obscure, but it transpired
later that an important consideration was the allegation that pressure was being exerted by
Amerseys reluctance to find money for the Central Office. His aim was to force Mody on the. Party
by these exceptionable means. Anyway, the scheme did not work. Patel successfully resisted all
pressures. He proposed that the decision be postponed to the next meeting of the General Council
which was planned to be held at Madras so that Rajajis advice would be available.

Meanwhile, the previous plan of mass resignations was not abandoned by the initiators of the plan,
for pressure and persuasion were being employed to get the resignations of the members of the
National Executive. For example, a special camp was arranged at Khandala to which only a selected
few were invited. Arya, Delhis Party Secretary, revealed on his return, how attempts were made to

72
persuade him to resign. The aim of all this manoeuvring was to help Mody into the presidential chair
without the formality of elections. Having been defeated once, he could not have been very keen on
.another trial of strength.

The projected meeting to decide about the presidency was held at Madras on 24th June 1972. As
mentioned before, Rajaji was informed about the difficult situation created by Amerseys policy of
financial strangulation of the Central office. Patel had a meeting with Rajaji, who must have put him
wise about the situation. Patel announced his resignation without any further ado. Rajaji blessed
him for his self-sacrifice and approved of Mody as his successor. Actually, there was no other taker.
That is how Mody came by the office of the president of the party. In a way, he was the parting gift
of Rajaji to the party. I have a lurking suspicion in my mind that Rajaji, with his prescience, had
already come to the conclusion that the Party was played out. He gave it to Mody to enable him to
show his extraordinary powers of organisation and political skill qualities which existed only in his
over-inflated opinion of himself. This became evident from the way he tried to build the party
through elections in U.P. But of that later.

Mody started his tenure of office, not in a healthy spirit of comradeship but in a spirit of
vengefulness. He must have decided to get even with those who had obstructed his rise to power, if
power it was he had secured and not his own self-destruction and that of the party. The Delhi party
was his target. His self confidence helped to convince him that he was powerful enough to get rid of
duly elected office-bearers of the Delhi party, lock, stock and barrel. I have it from Arya that he tried
to persuade him to get rid of me as the president of the party. Arya had to inform him that it would
not be possible to get enough votes for that purpose. This gave us a preview of the methods Mody
was prepared to employ to strengthen the party which had already sustained near mortal blows and
needed everyones support.

As soon as he found his presidential legs in Delhi, he went into action to strengthen the party by
trying to demolish the Delhi party. To that end, he introduced a couple of his agents into the party to
create trouble. To his bitter anguish and chagrin, the Delhi party held together and refused to dance
to his tune. I was informed by a senior office bearer of the U.P. party that Mody tried the same tricks
there also, but without success. Modys modus operandi, we now realised, was to demolish the
remaining bits of the party before rebuilding the party according to his hearts desire.

With the seating of Mody in the presidential chair, the triumvirate was complete. It set about
enthusiastically assuring us that things were going to be managed much better than Masani and
others were able to do. Soon it came to light that the triumvirate was really only a duumvirate.
Madhu Mehta, though General Secretary, was only a marginal figure with hardly any say in the
policy and management of the partys affairs. Poor Mehta cut a very figure at the Council or National
Executive meetings, occupying the chair next to the President, without any clue to what was really
going or). All the speaking was done by either Mody or Amersey. He turned out to be a poor fish
with no two ideas in his head about party organisation. In his initial burst of enthusiasm, he brought
out a couple of stunts from his bag of tricks. He asked the Delhi party to arrange a Dharna to protest
against the purchase of Mercedes 600 for the President of India. We thought it was a case of
straining at gnats when so many camels had been swallowed by the country. Nevertheless, the Delhi
party made the arrangements dutifully and Mehta was greatly gratified by having himself
photographed against the outer railing of the Presidential Palace. Next time, he led a protest march

73
of Delhi workers and a few members of Parliament to the Russian Embassy to protest against the
persecution of the Nobel Prize winning writer Solzhenitsyn by the Russian government. After that,
his excursions to Delhi became infrequent. He confined his activities to the much larger field of
Bombay where, he said, he would organise a Hindustani Movement, whatever that may mean.

Amersey, the political alter ego of Mody, was bursting with anti-Masani feelings in the beginning
which he never tried to hide or tone down. On the contrary, he could not resist the temptation of
giving them loud expression before all and sundry. Like Mody, he too was full of self-confidence that
he was going to infuse new life into the party. However, his dynamic ideas about the improvements
he was going to bring about were never aired in the National Executive; he kept them to himself. In
fact, he never got time to elaborate them in public before the other members. In a few weeks time,
he decided to contest the parliamentary seat of Sabarkantha in Gujarat the old seat of C. C. Desai.
He was defeated, losing his deposit. The defeat took the wind out of his sails. All his enthusiasm for
the party melted away like snow on the face of a desert. He never showed up again at party
meetings. The chair of the Treasurer by the side of Mody remained unoccupied. The last meeting he
attended was the General Council meeting at Clark Shiraz Hotel at Agra. At that meeting, I
remember, Amersey was full of confidence about the oppositions chance of success in the pending
elections of U.P. Mody and Amersey had together laid plans to work a miracle there and
demonstrate their political skill.

I must confess I was very irreverent. When asked my opinion, I said, There is as much chance of
opposition coming to power in U.P. as of a snowball dropping through the roof of the hall in which
we are seated. Amersey had been expressing his optimism about the chances of the opposition
coming to power in U.P. Amersey then posed a question direct to me: What in my opinion would
happen if the opposition did not come to power? He asked. In that unlikely event, Presidential rule
and then , Congress government again.. After all, I added, what happened to Charan Singh
government, is only recent history.

Amersey was not taking any interest in the Party when Mody, under his direct personal
management, contested over two hundred and twenty Assembly seats and managed to win only
one, and that one was lost through defection soon after. To build the party through elections in U.P.
was the grand, conjoint plan of Mody and Amersey. It was now clear that the combined Mody-
Amersey ingenuity had not been able to produce any new idea; it had been treading the much
beaten, stereotyped path of building the party through elections. In criticising their predecessors, it
did not occur to them that they were only emulating their ways. The only explanation given by Mody
for contesting the large number of seats was that by doing so, he had laid the foundation of the
party in most of the districts of U.P. The explanation was ingenious, but devoid of common sense. It
was March hare madness to contest elections on a vast scale with hardly any organisation worth the
name in U.P. in the hope of building the party.

Amersey met his Waterloo too early in his reign to be able to unfold and display his profound
wisdom in rebuilding the party. Mody did present to the party, with great ostentation, a brochure on
how to organise a primary unit of the party. It was received with respectful silence, no one pointing
out that that particular job had been successfully carried on for over twelve years. Nor did anyone
suggest to Mody that it would be more instructive to those for whom the brochure was meant, if he

74
pointed out the special points of difference from the methods already followed or the ones that
made his instructions more apt and appropriate.

After that brilliant performance, his genius for party organisations abated a good deal, for we were
not favoured with another profundity on the subject of party organisation.

At Agra, Mody opened a chink to let us have a fleeting view of the planning for the future in his
mind. He explained that there was a move afoot in Delhi to persuade all the non-communist
opposition parties to unite together and form a united opposition to the Congress party. To that
end, he explained, a meeting of various opposition groups was held at Delhi under the chairmanship
of Acharya Kriplani. Mody explained that he asked the leaders present if they were willing to drop
their separate party names, and creeds and merge their individualities into an absolutely new party.
He felt that only if that condition was fulfilled was there any point in continuing this effort at union.
No one expressed his willingness to do so, and, consequently, the meeting came to an end after the
usual glib talk.

Considering the gaping chasm between the opposition party creeds, anything else was really too
much to expect. I concluded in my own mind that that was the end of those efforts. Actually, as
things turned out later, that was only an inkling of more radical developments which followed and
which were to end in the dissolution of the party at the national level. Mody proved to be quite an
expert at presenting his schemes in bits and pieces in order not to burden the digestion of his party
colleagues.

Election of Piloo Mody

The next meeting of the newly elected General Council was an election meeting. It was held at
Lucknow in December 1973. Mody was elected President with nary a nay, there being no
contestants. As soon as he was declared elected, he moved to the rostrum and began to direct the
proceedings, more or less displacing the Returning Officer. The election of a General secretary
proved to be problem, onerous, because none of the proposed names was acceptable to Mody. He
made an extraordinary request to the members to postpone the election of a General Secretary.
Hevxplained that he had one or two persons in view, one of whom he might prevail upon to accept
the onerous post. Actually everyone understood that really there was only one person in his mind
and not two. He wanted the door kept open for Amersey who had stopped taking interest in party
affairs after his crushing defeat in Sabarkantha bye election. Mody further proposed that in the
interregnum, Madhu Mehta, who had been elected Vice President, would officiate as General
Secretary in addition to his own duties. As things turned out, Mody was never able to persuade
Amersey to come back and take up active work for the party and Mehta kept officiating to ,he end.
Mody had no difficulty in getting his proposal accepted by the Council, because there was, by that
time, hardly any enthusiasm for party posts. Every one was more keen to find out how Mody was
going to resurrect the tottering party, what magic wand he was going to wave to make the party
jump out of its moribund state. Did he have any trick up his sleeve to infuse new life into the party?
The Rajasthan and Orissa crowds alone were evincing some keenness in the proceedings. Orissa was
expecting elections and some money could still be milked out of the party and the Rajasthan rajas
had to support their tribal comrades of Orissa.

75
As mentioned before, Modys optimism about his ability to persuade Amersey to return to active
work in the party never materialised. Amersey never put in an appearance again at party meetings,
much less accept the post kept open for him by Mody. He did, however, show up at the terminal
convention which accepted, or, more correctly, was manoeuvred to accept the dissolution of the
party. He sat silent at the back, taking no part in the proceedings. What actually dragged him to this
terminal meeting of the party was difficult to guess. I wondered if he was there to watch the party
breath its last the party he had vowed to resurrect. Was he regretting or was he deriving an
immense vicarious pleasure watching the President and the party commit humiliating hara-kiri
the party which had been responsible for reducing his self-esteem to a lemon. Probably, his thoughts
and motivations were much more complicated and much more difficult to unravel. Sabarkantha
election which laid Amersey low was the first election contested by the party under the dumvirate.
The result thereof, humiliating for Amersey, was disastrous for the party. Later, worse was to follow
from Modys heroic efforts to resurrect the party. But I anticipate.

In the later part of the proceedings, Mody in a long and labourious explanation of the Sabarkantha
diaster, had the fairness to absolve Amersey from much of the blame attached to his defeat. Instead,
he took the blame upon himself, since he felt that he had pushed a rather diffident Amersey into the
fray too late.

To offset the extremely discouraging result of the first election contested under his aegis and divert
members attention, he enlarged on the very encouraging prospects for the party in the approaching
elections in U.P. He claimed that he had taken personal charge of the entire campaign; travelled
thousands of miles up and down U.P. and organised hundreds of new primary units for the party.
According is4.im, he had discovered great and wide support for the party in the four corners of U.P.
His personal conclusion was that the Party was going to do remarkably well in the coming elections.
These grandiose claims might have gulled a few, but to me, it was all so much twaddle, because I
knew the crowd he relied upon for his success in U.P. included some rank opportunists,
untrustworthy customers who I had discovered during my previous sojourns in U.P. I felt certain that
they had no great commitment to the party; they were there to see what they could get out of the
party. I also knew that they were such old and practised hands at the game that Mody would have to
get up very early in the morning to see through their game. With the help of their followers, they
had, no doubt, wiped out the previous indolent crowd; but they still had to prove themselves and
win their spurs. The new office-bearers were elected under my chairmanship as Election Officer,
and, I think, I had come to see through them to a certain extent. I could not make up my mind
whether Mody was deliberately misleading the party giving them an over-painted, rosy picture of
election prospects in U.P. or was he so nave that he was being taken for a ride by the opportunistic
crowd. Probably, it was a bit of both. After all, Indian politicians surrounded by opportunists,
careerists, money-grubbers, and tricksters of all sorts, have yet to acquire the faculty of seeing
through the man he is dealing with; guess his game and not allow himself to be bamboozled.

Strange things were happening in the matter of election preparations. The elections were scheduled
for February (two months hence) and so far the U.P. party had not handed over to Mody the list of
candidates. Mody complained about this inexplicable delay. In the hearing, of all of us present, a
promise was made by the U.P. party secretary that the list would be handed over the next day
without fail; Actually, Mody was not to get the list until he had been manoeuvred to agree to put up
two hundred and twenty candidates. This was brought about by a clever sleight of hand. The list was

76
released to the Press and handed over to Mody almost simultaneously, leaving no opportunity for
Mody to contradict it since it had been presented to the Press as the official list. Later, elaborate and
involved explanations were invented by Mody and others to explain why the initially agreed number
of fifty two was inflated to two hundred and twenty. One of the ingenious explanations was that
actually the real candidates were only fifty or so, the rest were given party labels for
encouragement, otherwise they would have left the party. This was an oblique admission of the
dubious quality of the new members recruited by Mody during his much boasted million mile
scouring of U.P. Probably, they had to be offered such inducements to attract them to the party.

This inflation of the number of contesting candidates in a state in which, according to Modys own
admission, there was hardly any party organisation, was remarkable topsy-turvydom; it was putting
the cart before the horse. The game of the local party was as plain as a pikestaff -- put up as large a
number of candidates as possible without any consideration of their chances of success; squeeze the
maximum amount of aid from the Central Party, and then Bobs your uncle.

Another ingenious explanation offered by Mody was that the large number of candidates put up
would give a fresh impetus to the party in their own districts. What effect would a large number of
failures have on the image of the party and the credibility of the defeated candidates themselves,
and how long these birds of passage stay with the party were considerations beyond the ken of
Mody.

When I heard of the decision to put up the fantastic number of candidates above mentioned, my
mind had grave misgivings. I concluded that poor Mody was squelching knee deep in the mire of U.P.
and was bound to come to grief. I had a kind of sympathy for him, too. He was no match for the
crowd that was leading him by the nose. He was like a lamb among wolves. Long before the Lucknow
meeting, I had written him a long letter warning him of the grave perils that beset his path in U.P.
(Appendix V).

In that letter, I explained at some length, how each successive leader of the party had concentrated
all energies and such funds as were available on parliamentary elections, neglecting the much more
important tasks of carrying the Swatantra creed to the masses. After Masan, Dandeker, Patel and
not forgetting Ranga, you have the fate of the party in your hands. Permit me to say, however, that
you have built your house of cards on the same quicksands as your predecessors. Instead of finding a
new path, you are treading the old, well-beaten trail. I am sure, you are going to meet your
Waterloo in U.P, and with that the party shall have taken another staggering blow which will
probably prove to be the last straw on the camels back. I did not realise at the time of writing how
prophetic those words were going to prove.

Copies of the letter abovementioned were sent to Masani, Dandeker and Patel since their names
were mentioned in the letter, and it was only fair that they should know the contents. I did not
expect a reply, but Dandeker sent one, in which he asked: Have you a specific plan for U.P.
Assembly elections such as would avoid all the pitfalls and make up for the absence of a leader with
personal charisma? If so, let us have it.

Apparently, Dandeker had taken umbrage, or he would not have written such an inane letter. This is
a familiar, old trick to invite specific suggestions from the critic, which, if not forthcoming, would,
ipso facto, condemn the person as a mere carping critic with no practical ideas on the subject. My

77
reply to him (Appendix VI) made the point that the central theme of my letter was much more
fundamental than plans for electoral campaigns. I had addressed three letters to the National
Headquarters, I informed him, during the last two years, pointing out the hazards of the path the
Swatantra had followed so far. Our complete engrossment in parliamentary work to the exclusion of
the much more important organisational work was harmful to the party and would prove to be its
undoing in the end. Instead of going to the people, we went to Parliament. Seats in Parliament
follow public support and not vice-versa. It was now too late in the day, I pointed out, for him to ask
me for plans of electoral success. No one could, at this later hour, cook a formula that would convert
thirteen years of neglect of essential organisation work into a resounding electoral success. There
are no magic wands to command success. Laws of cause and effect are inexorable; neglect of
essential work must lead to failure.

All these irksome details have an important bearing on the story told in these pages, because they
highlight the type and the ways of the leadership with which the Swatantra Party was blessed.

Pragati Party

This was a new name that suddenly appeared on the Indian political horizon, but its roots were deep
in the national soil. In India, new political parties arise with new names, but the helmsmen remain
the same like the musical programme of All India Radio which carry different names every fifteen
minutes but the contents remain unaltered. In 1972, the Orissa Maharajas decided it was time to say
farewell to the Swatantra Party. Their line of conduct was the same as when they decided to say
farewell to the Congress Party and walk out of the Congress Government with which they were in
coalition. The leader of the then Congress government of Orissa was none other than Biju Patnaik
who would change many garbs. Then the Orissa Maharajas started secret negotiations with the
Swatantra Party behind the back of their leader. Now, having decided that there was not much more
to be got out of the Swatantra Party, they started confabulating with their erstwhile colleague, Biju
Patnaik, who had meanwhile walked out of the Congress party and was leading a party of his own,
the Utkal Congress.

The Swatantra Party in Orissa had conspicuous success in the 1967 elections. Though not in majority,
it had been able to form a government in coalition with the Jan Congress Party of Mehtab. This
lasted till 1970. Defections then occurred. The Assembly was dissolved, and in the ensuing elections,
the Swatantra lost more seats. It, therefore, decided to join forces with Patnaik. Maharajas
confabulations with Patnaik were brought to the notice of the party at the General Council Meeting
at Madras (24th/25th June 1972) by Makani. It was suspected that the Maharajas had actually joined
with Patnaik in the new party, Pragati Party. R. N. Singh Deo and P. K. Deo gave solemn assurances
that the arrangement with Patnaik was merely for the sake of elections and the Swatantra Party in
Orissa was determined to maintain its identity. However, the election manifesto issued for the
election purpose was in the name of the Pragati Party and there was no mention of the Swatantra
anywhere. The election was contested in the name of the Pragati Party and not Swatantra. In other
words, with princely straightforwardness and honour, the Orissa Maharajas had their legs in two
boats, stoutly maintaining loyalty to the Swatantra while strengthening their bonds with Patnaik.

Perhaps, it would not be out of place here to mention that it is the same Patnaik against whom R. N.
Singh Deo instituted an enquiry while he was Chief Minister of Orissa in coalition with Mehtab.
Strange are the coincidences of Orissa politics. R. N. Singh Deo instituted an enquiry against Patnaik,

78
his predecessor, but poetic justice overtook him when his successor instituted an enquiry against
him in the matter of contract of tendu leaves.

The tragic irony of the whole affair was that while charges against Patnaik were mitigated to mere
technical irregularities, R. N. Singh Deo was found guilty of financial irregularities. The only defence
Singh Deo could offer for himself was that the enquiry was politically motivated.

The curious conduct of the Orissa personages do not stop there. In the first week of November 1974,
big banner headlines in the Press announced that Patnaik was under investigation by Income-tax
authorities for evasion of Income tax and irregularities connected with Foreign Exchange. His offices
and residences and those of some of his relations were raided in Delhi, Calcutta and Bhubaneshwar.
He himself was subjected to a thorough search on landing at Palam after a trip abroad. Strange
coincidence that the explanation offered by Patnaik was precisely the same as that of R. N. Singh
Deo; the raids were politically motivated. Neither of them, however, uttered a word about the
factuality of the recoveries.

Finally, when the curious goings-on of the Orissa Maharajas vis--vis Patnaik could no longer be
concealed or prevaricated, they were made public. But the moral duplicity of the personages obliged
them to continue to attend Swatantra meetings to the end. One more achievement of distinction of
R. N. Singh Deo before we consign him to the oblivion he deserves because of his glorious conduct. It
was he, who, was selected by Mody together with Patodia, to arrange with Charan Singh a merger of
the Swatantra Party with the B.K.D. The projected merger having failed, the Swatantra party went
down the river.

U.P. and Orissa Elections

These elections proved to be Modys Waterloo. Millions of miles of jogging up and down U.P.,
hundred of new units raised for the party and thousands of new members enrolled notwithstanding.
He could get only one, solitary member elected out of two hundred and twenty he put up. That one,
solitary success also could not be considered a feather in Modys cap; because the successful
candidate (Raja of Badhawar), a rich zamindar, owed his success to his own influence. In order not to
give Mody any chance of gloating over his success, Badhawar joined the B.K.D. party soon after the
election.

The National Executive was summoned to Delhi on 6th April 1974 to take stock of Modys electoral
muscle-flexing. Singh started the ball rolling with his explanations of the Orissa defeats. There was a
good deal of beating about the bush to cover up the glaring fact that, despite union with the Pragati
Party, Orissa Swatantra had managed to win only twenty out of the fifty six seats contested. Even
liberal gone financial aid from Mody for which the Orissa personages had kept one leg in the
Swatantra after joining Pragati Party, had been of no great avail. Mody complained bitterly that he
had provided more money to each contesting candidate in Orissa than any previous administration.
Singh Deo alleged there had been large scale purchasing of votes and even tampering with the ballot
boxes. He was careful to add that the tampering had been done in such a scientific manner that it
was difficult to prove or detect . Usual explanations of defeated candidates!

The real burden of Modys conscience was the U.P. debacle.

Deo sta

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The results provided a lie direct to the rosy picture about the Swatantras chances he had painted to
bdguile the members; his own strenuous efforts and the wild claims of enormous support he had
discovered. If all the cohorts he claimed to have raised by his muscle-flexing in U.P. had exerted
themselves, half as much as Mody claimed to have done, some more successes should not have
difficult to come by. In the case of U.P., Singh Deos stock excuses would not pass muster because
Charan Singh and the socialists had managed to register an impressive number of successes. The real
causes of the disaster Mody had brought upon himself and the part were quite different from those
he trotted out. Utter lack of organisational experience; inability to see through the motives and
intentions of the human material he was dealing with; unscrupulous opportunism of that material
and his own preposterously inflated self-esteem and wild optimism inspired by ambition these
were the real causes.

S. Harbhajan Singh, President of the U.P. party, while admitting the disgraceful results, sought to
justify the fantastic number of candidates put up. According to him, the aim of fielding the ridiculous
number of candidates was to popularise the party a rather original and expensive way I must
say. They went in for popularity and all they got was notoriety.

Srivastava, U.P. Partys General Secretary, the real manager of the election campaign, reinforced his
chiefs arguments, particularly the explanation about the fantastic number of candidates fielded. By
contesting a large number of seats, he explained, he had been able to build party organisations in
forty districts of the state which would constitute a big force for the party.

Mody further reinforced these arguments by declaring that if he had not contested all those seats,
all the workers whom he had enrolled would have walked away to other parties. In simple language,
these new swatantrtes who, according to Srivastava, were going to constitute a sizeable force for the
party, had no real attachment to the party. For them, one party was as good as another. Suspicion
was unavoidable that they had been tempted by the prospects of a Swatantra ticket and financial
support. That probably was as far as their attachment to the party went. They were out to make hay
while the election sun was shining a very natural human desire in the circumstances. It was also
quite possible that such temptations had been held out to them.

At no time, during the meeting, any details of voting constituency by constituency were revealed to
prove the local influence of the new force in the forty districts mentioned by Srivastava.

Now, we are approaching the closing scenes of the party at the national level and Modys plot to
ditch the party will slowly be revealed and thicken. He was now desperately looking for a way of
escape out of the tight corner in which he found himself. The responsibility he had eagerly taken
upon himself in the fond belief that he had expertise to rejuvenate the party and, as a result, hoist
himself to the upper level of politics, had now to be shed. The party had become a millstone round
his neck which he could carry no more. It had to be shed, but that must be done in a manner, which
instead of bringing obloquy on him, would add lustre to his name. The party must be ditched, and, in
the process, he must acquire new guide ropes to hoist himself into the higher levels of politics. There
was already a move to bring the non-communist opposition parties together. That was a ready-made
alibi. So he refurbished an old slogan national alternative to the Congress party. For that noble
purpose, the Swatantra party must be dissolved.

80
On 4th June, two months and a few days later, without any qualms of conscience; any regard for his
own word and the assurances he had given to the party, Mody brazenly declared that the party was
moribund. According to him, it could not be revived, and, therefore, must be dissolved. He did not
take the trouble of explaining what had happened to the innumerable new organisations he and.
Srivastava had labouriously built in forty district of U.P. How had they melted away so soon? He did
not say if any fresh development in the party had made those young hopefuls disappear into thin air.
Nor did he say if any fresh developments in the country had taken place to make the freshly raised
forces to melt away like snow on the face of a desert. But again this is anticipation.

To get back to the proceedings of the National Executive meeting. The entire next morning was
spent in discussing five official resolutions. After lunch, instead of continuing with the agenda, for
which there was plenty of time, Mody decided on a ruse. It did not suit his carefully laid plans to
allow the full meeting to discuss the important items of the future of the party. His plan was to while
away time till some members, not in the know of his plan, had left, as usually happens towards the
end of the last day. Therefore, he very cleverly and with great show of generosity announced that he
wanted to spend the better part of the afternoon talking to the workers of the Delhi party in order
to know them better. He said, he wanted to establish rapport with them. The meaning and
significance of this show of goodwill and generosity became clear later. He spent hours, in fact till six
oclock in the evening, listening to piffle. Then, when he saw members leaving the meeting out of
boredom, he opened his bag of tricks and pulled out the most important resolution which he had
kept up his sleeve till the very last moments of the meeting. All the discerning members who could
smelt a rat in his plan had left leaving behind his own sympathisers who knew the plan. He had little
difficulty in getting the resolution passed. The resolution is repeated below, word for word, as it
appeared in the proceedings of the meeting:

The Party will continue to explore all possibilities to bring about a two-party
system in India with a view to remove the chaos prevailing in our political life and
the confusion created in the minds of the electorate. In this connection, the
Swatantra party urges all political parties and politicians to co-operate in this
endeavour and to work for the common good.

The resolution was worded so craftily that while it did not seem to invest the President with powers
to dissolve the party, the same could be construed out of it. At least, that is what Mody did. The
resolution was to be later quoted by him as his mandate from the party to take the extreme step of
dissolving it. The sly, cunningness of the manner in which such an important resolution concerning
the very life of the party was delayed and presented at the very end of the session of the National
Executive was a clear indication of the craftiness of the saboteurs of the party. And the Swatantra
was supposed to be a party of gentlemen. Later, Mody would introduce more guile and jugglery into
the party affairs.

The resolution which Mody took as his mandate from the party was contrived by craftiness and plain
trickery. Such a vital resolution should have come much earlier on the agenda. Its place, logically,
was soon after the discussion on Orissa and U.P. elections; because consideration of the future of
the party flowed from the situation created by the electoral disasters sustained by the party since
the parliamentary elections of 1971 the Grand Alliance election. Instead, the resolution was kept
back till a good many members, not Mody supporters, had left when it was sprung on the meeting

81
and passed. Strictly speaking, it was not a free and straightforward decision of the National
Executive; it was a decision of a clique of the party.

Having obtained the sanction of the National Executive by means outlined above, the next step for
Mody was to secure the concurrence of the General Council of the party. The Council met at.Delhi
on 9th June 1974. Meanwhile, propaganda in favour of the National Alternative and dissolution of
the party had been carried on furiously in the press. Members were beginning to lose interest. Only
fifty five members out of one hundred and thirty attended the meeting. Members had seen
statements in the press that Patodia and Singh Deo had already agreed to dissolve the Swatantra
Party and merge with Charan Singhs BKD. Nevertheless, there was a good deal of opposition from
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu, the last being the strongest. It was pointed out that
Mody had no authority to dissolve the party, and it was totally wrong of two members in league with
Mody to negotiate with Charan Singh and others and agree to dissolve the party. That decision was
the prerogative of the Party Convention. At this stage, Mody declared that the publication of
negotiations with Charan Singh was not authoritative, whatever that meant.

Mody spoke eloquently and volubly in favour of the proposal to dissolve the party and join others to
form a national alternative to the Congress party. He stated emphatically that the new party was not
going to be different from the Swatantra party; it was going to incorporate all the fundamental
Swatantra principles in its creed. To bamboozle the members and lend some kind of verisimilitude to
his claims, he had printed and distributed to the members a voluminous brochure entitled The
National Alternative: Indias. Only Hope It had a subtitle, Draft Statement of Policy, presumably of
the new party being hatched. He did not reveal to the members the fact, which some of us knew,
that Raj Narain, the stormy petrel of Indian politics, had equally emphatically assured his followers
that the new party was going to be socialist. Mody pleaded eloquently for his new companions,
assuring the members by telling them that Raj Narain, himself had assured him that he had
forgotten all about socialism. A fib like that was hardly believable: as if Raj Narain could ever forget
socialism. If Raj Narain had actually given such an assurance to Mody, then he must have had a very
poor opinion of Modys understanding. Also, Mody must have taken us for half-wits to imagine that
we would believe such a story. Anticipating criticism about the murky pasts of his new companions,
he forestalled by appealing to the members to overlook their pasts. In the midst of his illogical
eloqugriCe, he quite forgot that men can be judged by their pasts only; the future is unproven. They
still have to prove by their actions that they have changed, and until then they must accept others
opinions of them based on their past deeds. Apart from empty words of Mody, there was no
evidence of any expiation.

I remember getting up waving the brochure and saying, This voluminous bumf is not worth the
paper it is written on; because it bears no marks of authority and has not been discussed or adopted
by any party. For its ultimate adoption by the new party, we have only the word of Mody for
whatever it is worth.

Subsequent events have shown how empty were the words of Mody. Today, six months after
Modys assurances, the new party has not held a convention and its future policies are still in thin
air. Even the constitution of the new party has not been decided upon. I wonder to what use Mody is
putting his much lauded brochure.

82
In his indecent hurry to get rid of the millstone round his neck, he had overlooked the Party
Constitution. He thought all he had to do was to push his plans through the General Council and the
party would be dissolved. It was pointed out to him that amendments to the Constitution could be
made only by a convention of the party. A conventibn would have to be held before his plans
become binding on the party. H. M. Patel presented a resolution to that effect which was adopted. It
had a big sting in its tail. The last para stated: The General Council also authorises the President to
fix the date and venue of the National Convention at the earliest after giving due notice. I pointed
out to Patel that his resolution put everything in the hands of Mody. He would fix Delhi as the venue
of the Convention so that he could get a large number of delegates from U.P. where he alleged he
had raised more than twenty thousand new members. These members, I pointed out, had not had
their membership verified by an independent person as was the practice of the party. Patel gave an
evasive reply and left me standing. It was clear that Patel had, by virtue of his resolution, assisted
Mody to get the decision he wanted.

A Rigged Party Convention

Before the Convention met on 4th August 1974, certain developments took place. Delhi had already
declared its opposition to the dissolution of the party, even before the meeting of the General
Council. Now Maharasthra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala also came out in opposition to Modys plans.
They gave notice that they intended to carry on the party as before, Modys manoeuvrings
notwithstanding. Masani addressed a letter to all members of the General Council opposing
dissolution. That letter, incidentally, Mody did not have the courage to distribute to the members of
the General Council, but it was privately distributed.

More important, however, were the machinations of Mody. He was by now desperate, and,
therefore, must have decided to ensure the acceptance of his proposal by the Convention by hook or
by crook. He devised means to manipulate a majority in the Convention by the very means. He
manipulated the number of delegates from each state in such a manner that U.P. alone was allotted
enough number of delegates to swamp all the rest put together. On all previous occasions, a
maximum limit was laid to the number of delegates each state party could send. By merely dropping
that restriction, he enabled the U.P. party to bring nearly two hundred and fifty delegates on the
basis of unconfirmed membership amounting to twenty five thousand. All the rest of the state
parties put together could not muster a matching number of delegates. Delhi was chosen as the
venue so that it would be cheaper for Mody to bring his cohorts from U.P. whereas it was much
more expensive for delegates to travel from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and other southern states. In short,
Mody had so gerrymandered the number of delegates that by vote counting, there was no defeating
him in his fell designs against the party. The Central Office issued a letter to all members of the
National Executive requesting them to say yes or `no to the new proportions fixed for each
delegation by Mody. It said there was not time enough to summon a meeting of the National
Executive. In my reply to the Headquarters, I wrote that, in fairness, an upper limit to the numbers of
each delegation must be fixed to avoid the suspicion that the present leadership was bent upon
swamping the Convention with a preponderatingly large number of yesmen from one state. I
suggested that an upper limit of one hundred for each delegation as fair and just. I got a reply from
Madhu Mehta, the officiating secretary, saying that it was too late to change the arrangements as
they had been accepted by a majority of the members of the National Executive. Mody, later, gave
the figure twenty three in favour and three against. Names and states were never supplied. Mody

83
and his clique forgot that by Convention, even one dissenting voice required to be discussed at a
meeting of the National Executive.

Among the massive delegation of U.P., there were some objectionable characters. Cheer leaders led
their morons to stand up and shout slogans for Mody at the slightest excuse. At one stage, a group
of these hirelings rushed on to the dais threatening to beat up the President of the Delhi party,
Mohan Lal Jatav. His crime for such indignity was his daring to ask that if U.P. party had really
become as strong as Mody had made it out to be, why was it not able to get a few MLAs elected in
the last election? This kind of hooliganism had never before been witnessed at Swatantra meetings;
business had always been conducted in a dignified manner. This unprecedented exhibition of
hooliganism must be looked upon as an outstandingly deplorable smudge on the name and
reputation of the party inflicted by the U.P. crowd. U.R, had in fact, given Delhi an exhibition of its
populist politics and strange manners. No doubt, Mody quickly hoisted himself to his feet and threw
his hands up in holy horror at such exhibition of U.P. manners, but it is not easy to dismiss the
impression that these outbursts were not accidental manifestation of U.P. exuberance, but part of
the plan.

During the actual discussion, it was brought out quite clearly that there was no difference of opinion
about the necessity of evolving a National Alternative to the Congress party. It was extremely
desirable that the different opposition parties come together and present a united front to the one-
party Congress rule. The difference of opinion arose only over the personalities we were supposed
to cast our lot with in the new combination the new bedfellows Mody had selected. In his letter
to Mody dated 1st July 1974, Masani put these considerations very succinctly:

What is more relevant is the record of those with whom you propose to
associate. Mr. Biju Patnaik was found guilty of improprieties when in office by a
quasi-judicial tribunal by our government in Orissa.

Dr. Ram Subhag Singh was the main obstacle, from June 1970 till the end of the
year, to the formation, of a united block in Parliament which could have provided
an alternative government to the country and, perhaps, changed the course of
subsequent history.

Raj Narain was one of the demolition squad who came to Delhi on 3rd January
1971 and turned Rajajis dream of a grand alliance based on a common
programme into Indira Hatao hotch-potch, against which our Party protested.

As far as Charan Singh, I have always had great regard for him as a farmers man,
and he and I have fought many battles together in our opposition to joint co-
operative or collective farming. Unfortunately he has proved to be an
undependeable ally. We were badly let down4zy him when we agreed to join his
SVD government in U.P. What was worse was that during the presidential election
of 1969, his party the BKD cooperated in installing Giri as President. But for his
support, Mr. Girl would not have been elected, and, for this Charan Singh bears a
heavy responsibility.

84
You might argue that peoples part sins should be overlooked. I would agree, if
they had publicly expressed regret for their behaviour, but not one of them has
done this so far, and, one is therefore entitled to judge them by our experience of
them.

In addition, Masani pointed out that a national alternative in which all non-communist opposition
parties joined would be welcomed by him. He was afraid, however, that the public image of the
proposed new party will be a very poor one. That was one more reason, quite apart from its puny
size, the new combination would not be taken seriously by the public as a national alternative.

In his final peroration, Mody waxed eloquent about the necessity of winding up the party with his
flailing arms furiously churning the air above him. Piteously, he appealed again and again that there
should be no negative vote. That gave rise to suspicion that he had held out false prospects to his
new companions in the same way he had beguiled his own party members. In any case, he wanted
to carry the entire party with him to strengthen his position vis--vis the new bedfellows he was
going to lie with. His fervent appeals notwithstanding, fifty two stalwarts stood firm and did not
budge. They were the real core of the Swatantra party. Modys resolution was carried with the
weight of riff-raff whose standing in the party was not much longer than a few weeks.

The loyalty of the Rajas to the party had always been dubious, as already explained. They were keen
more in their own interests than those of the party. Their purblindness did not permit them to see
the vast advantages of a mass party. However, once they were convinced that the party was no
longer in a position to serve their purpose, their determination to destroy the party remained
steadfast to the end. There is no gainsaying that all of them stood by Mody lending him full support
till the closing moments. The Dowager Rani undertook the trying journey from Jaipur to utter a few
lachrymose words to bury the party.

Dandeker, one of the original proponents of the plan to seat Mody in the presidential chair, also
stood by him to the last. Mody had apparently performed eminently satisfactorily. He had played the
part he was expected to.

H. M. Patel, calculating the odds astutely, gravitated by inches from his initial ambiguous, non-
committal position to one of support to Mody. But he was not present when the voting actually took
place.

In retrospect, one cannot help being struck by some of the absurdly fatuous actions of Mody from
the time he assumed the office of the President of the party, actions which no one with any political
sagacity would have even dreamt of. By the time he took over, quite a number of prominent
Swatantra personalities had slowly drifted away from the party. Common sense dictates that it was
time to conserve what was left and not to destroy. No radical surgery would have been devoid of the
risk of further depleting the party ranks. Yet no sooner had he taken over than he initiated crazy
actions to disrupt atleast two functioning state parties, Delhi and U.R, without first ascertaining the
strength of the local leaders and their following. These could not be actions of a mature political
leader. His goings on with Bhutto of Pakistan so brazenly flung against the prevailing public feeling
against Bhutto could not have failed to create an undercurrent of hostility in the public mind. Modys
visit to Simla to see his old friend, and, later his visit to Pakistan to further strengthen his links with
Bhutto, and lastly, his book about Bhutto were all irritants to the public mind. Even today, Bhutto is

85
regarded as the spirit behind the rape and butchery in Bangladesh, and his rabid anti-Indian
attitudes and pronouncements only add to the bitterness against him. Associating with such a
character when public memories of Bangladesh and Pakistans attack on India were still fresh in the
peoples mind was tantamount to flinging oneself against public opinion. That at a time when he
needed badly to build his own image as a mature political leader in the public eye.

Suspicions were unavoidable, on account of his modes and methods, that probably there was some
deep motivation impelling him to seemingly senseless acts. Why, for example, did he go to the
lengths he did in defending the C.I.A., when the Congress Government was inclined to see its hands
in everything that happened in the country? He had a medallion marked C.I.A. struck and went
about proudly wearing it round his neck. These could not be styled thoughtful acts of a mature
political leader. These might have been his clumsy ways of drawing public notice to himself713cit the
outcome was not popularity; it was notoriety.

86
EPITAPH
The decline of the Swatantra party suited the Congress party. It was a challenge to the continued
monopoly of power enjoyed by the Congress party. It had reason to be afraid. Its so-called
progressive policies were not yielding dividends; money value was declining and the poor getting
poor. The ignorant masses could be fed on slogans for sometime, but not forever. They had to have
something in their empty bellies. And, the population was increasing by leaps and bounds. Jobbery,
graft, nepotism, corruption of diverse kinds had penetrated deep into every sphere of society
encouraged by the example set by the political leaders. The Congress government and the party
were, in fact, sitting on a volcano that could erupt at any time. A party with practical policies and not
mere rhetoric was a menace to them.

The defeat of the Swatantra also suited Mody, Amersey, Mehta and the Rajas, but its impact on *the
political state of the country could not but be harmful. The Swatantra was the only party in the
country that did not cling to any ism or ideology. Its only ideal was progress of the country and any
pragmatic, sensible policies were acceptable to it. Its creed was liberal and secular. In fact, the
Swatantra could be described as the young burgeoning seed of liberalism in the country. Had the
Congress party not been blinded by its self-interest; had it been truly patriotic, it would have
tolerated, even encouraged, the growth of the Swatantra Party. Instead, it did everything to thwart
the Swatantra.

The Swatantra did not aim at beguiling the people with Socialist slogans to win their votes. It aimed
at clean, honest to goodness politics. Perhaps, that was its weakness.

Now that realisation is growing that ideologies solve no economic problems, on,lureate more and
the socialist experiment has brought the country to a sorry state of affairs; the need for sane
political policies free from the shackles of ideology must be clear to the thinking. As happened in the
U.S.A., during the prohibition days, smuggling has become a thriving trade, allegedly encouraged by
political bosses. MISA arrests have revealed how the impecunious become millionaires in no time
and bought security by contributing large sums to the election funds of the Congress party.

The Swatantra was stigmatised for supporting capitalists. It did not support all capitalists; it
supported honest industrial activity because it knew that the country needed production and not
strangulation of private enterprise. It was against the confluence of political and money power since
it always leads to an irreplaceable government. It opposed the Permit and Licence system invented
by the Congress government to favour its own favourites and squeeze money out of others. The
corrupting, corroding influence of this vicious system was brought into glaring limelight when,
recently, Parliament spent days over the alleged sale of permits by Tulmohan Ram, an M.P. Actually,
that was a matter of straining at gnats. Thousands of similar sales must have gone undetected.
Tulmohan was the unfortunate one to be caught.

Long ago, a British allusion to the Indian genius for corruption, jobber and nepotism raised
vociferous protests all over the country. Today, successive Congress governments and the people
working in collaboration have lent authenticity to those British allusions by perfecting their genius
into a statutory system of exploitation of the people and the country. That, in fact, has been
accepted tradition for hundred of years. During British rule, this strong under-current was kept in

87
check to an extent, but with the removal of the constraining influence, the under-current rose to the
surface with the fury of suppression of years.

Corruption started by the political bosses and emulated by the bureaucracy has now set new
standards of honesty and morality. The old conceptions of both have been discarded as effete, carry-
overs of a decadent past. Mrs. Gandhi declared in a recent speech that the Congress party was
bringing about a revolution in the country. Modesty forbade her from referring to the one great
revolution already brought about by the Congress party and its successive governments. In that
revolution, brought about by the Congress leaders by example and precept, Dharma and morality
have become fatal casualties, things to laugh at. What a tremendous achievement in this morality-
spouting country!

Corruption is now so rampant and widespread that it is complacently and, in utter helplessness,
accepted by all and sundry as a dominant fact of life. The nouveau riche class to which it has given
birth has given up any pretence to morality or scruples and occupies itself with the garnering of
wealth by all means, fair or foul.

Money power, black money power, has converted elections into a farce, the result of which is a
foregone conclusion. That is the reason why the Congress leaders continually harp on peoples voice
and democracy and advise the opposition not to be impatient and wait for the elections and the
peoples verdict. They are sure, it is in their pockets.

The country is now back to the bad, old days of tyrannical autocrats with the only difference that, in
place of one individual tyrant, it has to submit to a whole class of exploiters and tyrants the
Congress ,party. In the olden days, there was a way out of tyranny; get rid of the tyrant. That ancient
remedy, however, is no longer available to the present democratic society. There cant be a rebellion
against a whole class. If one person is got rid off, another, equally predatory, steps into his place.
Such ancient remedies do not work against irremoveable majorities. When then is deliverance to be
sought and found?

A victimised society, following peaceful means of redress can only look towards the class that
provides leadership the intelligentsia. That is precisely where the misfortune lies. Over the last
two decades, the dedicated leadership has slowly died giving place to a new class which has proved
to be completely unscrupulous, corrupt and brazenly predatory. The country is now in a situation
where an honest man is at a disadvantage all along the line. The good ones are pushed out of
circulation by the bad coins.

A study of the Indian educated class raises grave doubts if it deserves that name at all. After all,
mere passing in examinations and acquisition of a university degree does not entitle one to belong
to the Intelligentsia. Education is not meant to produce half-educated babus. It aims at producing an
enlightened, emancipated man with broad vision and capacity to think for himself. In general, the
so-called educated person these days is an ignoramus, especially in political matters. His greatest
ambition is to4.9,1 into a job, and settle down to a life of complacent routine, unwilling and
incapable of sustained mental activity except such as is connected with his livelihood. Official files
absorb all his time and effort. For recreation, he relies mainly on ill-informed gossip. His limited
conversational capacity remains confined within the limits of service matters or problems of his daily
existence. In such matters, he is surpassed only by his wife, who is several steps ahead of him. The

88
pair usually, along with others of the same class, produce an atmosphere of deadly boredom at
social gatherings. The family lives in an atmosphere of mental starvation like a vegetable and
reproduces vegetables at an astounding rate. His main avocation is peculation if his official position
affords such possibilities. Failing that, he loves intrigue and courting the powerful to get on in life.
Seeking progress through honest hard work is now considered an idiotic way of achieving success.
He takes to politics with great avidity, especially if the rich soil of U.P. gave him birth, In politics, he
does not allow empty principles of rectitude or morality to stand in the way of his advancement. He
moulds himself to the prevailing ideology with great aptitude. In these days of socialist rhetoric, he
spouts loud socialist talk in public, but prefers to act right in private. The latter is more profitable.
Centuries-old heritage of hypocrisy has helped him to perfect a system of double think. Orwell
thought about it much later. Our man not only double thinks, he double acts and even double
worships, the Golden Calf most of the time, and God occasionally.

The industrialist, whose interest it was to help the Swatantra, because it stood for the removal of
pseudo-socialist oriented shackles on production imposed by the government, did not rise to the
occasion. He did not help generously. He gave too little and too late. The lure of immediate profits
proved to be more attractive than the perils of creeping nationalisation. In simple language, he
would rather have his wealth expropriated than give half of it in his own cause. But very few Indian
industrialists and businessmen take a long term view of things.

Drawn to despair, people talk about revolution. It is a catchy word that appeals to the Indian mind,
particularly, if its implications are kept vague and undefined to allow each one to pick up the kind of
revolution that suits him. Also, it suits him because he fondly imagines that revolution would be
brought about by others; and he would be left alone to enjoy the fruits thereof. Gains for himself
and suffering for others, that is his idea of the revolution.

Communists talk about revolution; socialists advertise their own kind and Mrs. Gandhi insists that
she is engineering a revolution of her own. The picture of a communist revolution is too well-known
to need early clarification. Briefly, it means death to those who believes in the freedom of the
individual, wholesale dispossession and expropriation and finally complete serfdom of the individual.
Commissars bossing over everybody through secret police and incarceration without any trial or only
shams of trials in peoples courts.

Socialists revolution has never been clarified, its limits never defined. Bluntly put, theirs is a game of
bamboozling the public with the socialist utopia hanging like a carrot before a donkey. It helps the
wretch to forget his miserable present in the contemplation of a distant socialist heaven. My own
conviction is that a socialist revolution would either ruin a country economically, as is happening in
the United Kingdom, or it would end in a gradual slide to full-fledged statism.

Only one and one kind of revolution can solve the complicated problems that beset India; a
revolution of personal character. It would, in fact, be devastating to bring about a revolution in the
prevailing type of Indian character. Horrors of Stalinism would pale into insignificance before those
perpetrated by the Indian revolutionary. Indians who would prove to be much more cruel than
Stalin.

Any revolution that does not instil into the people the fundamental value of good character would
not only be of no avail, but positively harmful. Unfortunately, in India, character implies only sex.

89
Dishonesty, disloyalty, lying and cheating, giving false evidence do not enter into the purview of
character. The kind of revolution required is the one that would give precedence to the neglected
virtues of truth, honesty, loyalty and straightforwardness over the emphasis now laid on sex. A
revolution of attitudes and values is the crying necessity. People must acquire strength of character
to shun black marketing, selling and buying of licences and permits as immoral and unpatriotic
practices, below their dignity. They must acquire moral courage to look down on those who indulge
in such practices and make it known to them. The practice of fawning on corrupt ministers, inviting
them to opening and closing ceremonies, puts a premium on corruption. By their behaviour, the
people must make the corrupt feel degraded. A corrupt father should be afraid of the silent scorn of
his own family. Revolution must start at the family level.

A revolution of destruction would solve no problems. What is required is a revolution of reforms of


character penetrating right down to each family if any permanent solution is to be obtained. All
other revolutions would be illusory. The Indian genius for corruption would find ways round the
rigours of a revolution. In fact, they would discover ways of destroying the good and honest ones so
that evil ones continue to prosper as before.

A revolution of character, if it comes, would automatically exclude the present corrupt and immoral
leadership. Until this leadership, whether of the Congress or the opposition parties is got rid of, I do
not visualise any improvement in the condition of the country.

The career of a protestant party facing strongly entrenched interests of power, such as-the
Swatantra facing the Congress party, cannot run a smooth and predictable course. Its course is
usually zig-zag and up and down with more downs than ups, in the beginning at least. People who
seek easy and rapid success should give a wide berth to such parties. In fact, easy success is no great
achievement. No success is worth having which is easily obtained. People who seek confrontation
with entrenched interests must be capable of great fortitude and perseverance; possess an
indomitable will and great dedication to their cause. All these virtues are required to surmount the
difficulties encountered. It is against human nature to give up easily the fountains of power and
money. The entrenched interests would fight tooth and nail, use all measures, fair or foul, to
preserve their prerogative. Also, there will always be more people willing to follow the entrenched
interests than a party of protest. Power of money is almost irresistible. Therefore, in such a
confrontation with vested interests, there are bound to be periods of prolonged adversity when
nothing seems to come right and the future is dark and dismal without even a suggestion of the
proverbial silver lining.

Leaders of a nascent protestant party must be prepared to wander in the wilderness for long
periods. Unfortunately, Indian political leaders, of the Congress, or Swatantra breed have an
inveterate aversion to being caught in the arid area of no power. Power or the prospects of power is
the breath of their nostrils. If not in power, he must see before him the prospects of achieving power
soon. All his political plans and manoeuvres are geared to that goal. For that compelling aim, he is
prepared to go .to any lengths, defect any number of times from any number of parties and, in
general, accept any stigma. Principles, according to him, are arid, but power is remunerative.
Therefore also, the oft-repeated maxim of4tie Congress party: politics is plain and simple fight for
power by all means at ones disposal. The implication is that such a flight for power should not be

90
soiled by any consideration of moral principles. The latter are empty shells, totally un-rewarding
while power rewards. It can be converted into cash easily.

The Swatantra leadership was baked of the same earth as the Congress leadership, chips of the same
block. It could not be basically any different. It was also power-oriented. It was also getting on in
years: it needed success in its lifetime. Therefore, any long term plan to lay the firm foundations of
the party were out of question. It lacked perseverance also a failing of advancing age. As long as
there was some prospect of success, the leadership persevered. But with the first squall of adversity,
one big electoral defeat, barring a small minority, the majority gave up the ghost. It was not
prepared to wander in the wilderness, to go on a long march. A little vision should have convinced
the leadership that, in the prevailing conditions, it was impossible to crack the solid phalanx of the
Congress party reinforced by the cement of self-interest. He should have explained this to his
followers, many of whom would have faltered and dropped along the road. The genuine ones would
have stuck on; as a few did. It would have proved to be an effective process of weeding out trash. He
should have concentrated on building public following. That was what Mahatma Gandhi used to do
after each Civil Disobedience movement. That is what Mao advocated: retreat to come back again.
Such a process would have been long and tedious, needing immense patience and self-abnegation.
Dissolution of the Party was no solution; it was an option of defeat.

The few businessmen and industrialists who were courageous enough to help the Swatantra should
have taken into account all the handicaps mentioned above. Political parties are not joint stock
companies. Even they require long periods of gestation before they produce any dividends. Political
parties in opposition need nurturing for much longer periods. They have to be succoured for long
periods like Research Departments in the hope of getting a good result one day. But such vision and
understanding has not been associated with the Indian business community. It is notoriously short-
sighted, wanting quick returns on investment.

Finally, let us consider the outcome of the march hare madness which resulted in the dissolution of
the Swatantra party at the national level, in such an indecent haste. A National Alternative to the
Congress party, which was so much talked about, is nowhere in sight. In fact, the shoe appears to be
on the other leg. The Bharatiya Lok Dal, the new party, is still in a state of flux from which it is
unlikely to emerge. It has not defined its policy officially. No convention of the party has been held
to produce a Constitution for the party. Chaudhary Charan Singh appears to be the only
Constitution. Probably, there is a great deal of wisdom in this deliberate confusion. In this inchoate
state, it can be different things to different people, and Mody can lie with Raj Narain.

Partly because of the uncertainty of its policies and its future, but also because of the dubious
reputation of some of its leaders, no creditable support has accrued to the party yet. It has not been
able to raise any units in the country outside of U.P., where it is mainly the old BKD. The few units
raised have paper existence only. Others are hastily got together groups of careerists and notorious
money grabbers in search of a fast buck.

Conscious of their internal weakness, and discouraged by the lack of response from the public, the
party has climbed on to the bandwagon of Jayaprakash Narayan. It is in search of political credibility
and the support of a personality of unimpeachable reputation. They would bring J.P. down with
them.

91
A word of praise is due to those who are heroically trying to keep the Swatantra alive even though
notionally. One bold declaration by a few leaders of imagination that they would keep the Swatantra
Party alive, come what may, would have prevented many workers from gravitating to Mody. At the
time when Mody was up to his mischief, at the National Executive meeting at Delhi, we were hoping
for such a courageous move, but it did not come. Vision and courage were lacking.

The Swatantra party may have failed in the eyes of its opponents, in the eyes of the Congress party
which saw in it a challenge to its power. It may have failed in the eyes of the ill-informed. But it took
up and persevered in a great cause. And, as Erasmus said, In great things it is enough to have tried.

92
EPILOGUE
Dr. Pasricha ends his story with an epitaph. An epitaph, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary,
is a funeral oration. Perhaps the use of this word is somewhat premature. The Swatantra Party is
indeed critically ill and under artificial respiration. But it is not yet clinically dead to qualify for an
epitaph, at least not yet. That pronouncement, at the time of writing, depends on the Mumbai High
Court.

Dr. Pasricha wrote his account between 1971 and 1975 and updated parts of it in 1978 as references
in his account to the infamous Emergency suggest. He died in February 1981. In the penultimate
paragraph (pp.167) of the Chapter entitled Epitaph there is a reference to some of us trying to
keep the Swatantra Party flag flying. He writes inter alia: A word of praise is due to those who are
heroically trying too keep the Swatantra Party alive even though notionally.

This effort needs to be recorded here to complete Dr. Pasrichas story.

To protest the rigging of the Swatantra Party convention on August 4, 1974, 53 genuine delegates
led by the Partys founder Minoo Masani, after voting against a resolution which virtually killed the
Swatantra Party, announced at a press conference that even if the party at the Centre ceased they
would continue to function as the Swatantra Party in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra,
Haryana, Kerala and Delhi.16

On their return to their respective states capitals, the delegates from these states carried on their
party activities until 1977 when they responded to Jayaprakash Narayans call to all parties in the
opposition other than the communist parties, to merge and form a single party - The Janata Party.
The Swatantra Party units in all the states mentioned above responded barring the Maharashtra unit
of the Party. Members of the Swatantra Party in Maharashtra were skeptical about the durability of
the Janata Party. So they decided to meet JPs call half way. They announced that while they would
not merge with the Janata Party, they would not contest the 1977 Lok Sabha elections but would
permit their members to stand as or work for, candidates of the Janata Party. Meanwhile, the
Swatantra Party in Maharashtra would carry on SS a service organisation in keeping with the a draft
resolution suggested by Mr. Masani at the Convention but not moved.17

The Partys skepticism was unfortunately proved right when the Janata Party splintered in 1979 and
the residual party was all but obliterated from Indias political map.

In 1989 the fall of the Berlin Wall signalled the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most nations including
communist China were moving away from statist policies and in the direction of a market economy.
There was a general acceptance of the inevitability of globalisation and India was hurtling towards
economic bankruptcy. For the first time in free India, socialist and statist economic policies began to
be questioned. There was recognition by both ruling and opposition parties that the virus plaguing
the economy, identified twenty five years earlier by the Swatantra Party as the permit licence quota
raj, had to be contained, if not eradicated altogether. The economic policies that the Swatantra
Party had championed over 25 years earlier were no longer considered reactionary.

16
For a detailed account of what transpired read The Notional Alternative, S. V. Raju, Freedom First, No.268,
September 1974.
17
The Compromise that Failed in the article The Notional Alternative, S. V. Raju, Freedom First, No.268,
September 1974.

93
The tragedy was that while the Swatantra Partys policies were being vindicated the party itself at
the national level did not exist thanks to three stupid men who scuttled the Party for short-term
political gains which never materialised. At the national level the Party that had been pushing for
economic reforms out of conviction was absent. And those in power and outside who were
supporting reforms lacked conviction.

At the state level, the Swatantra Party, Maharashtra was leading a tenuous existence. The Party
therefore decided that the time was opportune to get back into electoral politics and sought
registration with the Election Commission. And here it ran into a roadblock. The roadblock was an
amendment to the Representation of the People Act, passed by Parliament in 1989 making it
mandatory for political parties seeking registration to swear allegiance to the principles of socialism,
secularism and democracy.

We had no difficulty in swearing allegiance to secularism and democracy, but not, in good
conscience to socialism. We replied accordingly. The Election Commission of India rejected our
application for registration. On December 15 1994 we filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court
asking the Courts intervention to instruct the Election Commission to register our Party as the law
was discriminatory. The petition was admitted. However, at the time of writing, (8 years and six
months later) hearings have yet to begin!18

And here the matter rests.

Hence the term Epitaph is not quite appropriate. The final word has yet to be said.

S. V. Raju

18
For details of the writ petition read Making a Mockery of Indian Democracy, S. V. Raju, Freedom First,
No.424, January-March 1995.

94
Appendix 1: The 21 Principles of the Swatantra Party
1. The Swatantra party is pledged to social justice and equality of opportunity for all people Ivithout
distinction of religion, caste, occupation or political affiliation.

2. The party holds that progress, welfare and happiness of the people depend on individual initiative,
enterprise and energy. The party stands for the principle of maximum freedom for the individual and
minimum interference by the state consistent with the obligation to prevent and punish anti-social
activities, to protect the weaker elements of society, and to create the conditions in which individual
initiative will thrive and be fruitful. The party is, therefore opposed to increasing state interference
of the kind now being pursued.

3. The party holds that the state would foster and utilities the sense of moral obligation, the pride,
satisfaction, and fulfillment felt by individual in serving others which are inherent in our tradition,
instead of adopting legislative or other forms of compulsion which commence with want of faith in
the people and are consummated in the serfdom of the governed under the official machine, in an
omnipotent state controlled by a political party voted to power., The party, therefore, adheres to
the principle of trusteeship adumbrated by Gandhiji.

4. The Party holds that the policies of government should be founded on faith in the people and not
on state compulsion and the encouragement of hatred and conflict between class and class,
expropriation, repudiation of obligations and the conferment of more and more powers on the
officials of government at the expense of the freedom of the citizens.

5. The party stands for every effort being made to foster and maintain spiritual values a.)preserve
what is good in our culture and tradition, and avoid the dominance of a purely materialist
philosophy of life which things only in terms of the standard of life without any reference to its
content or quality.

6. The party holds that steps should be taken to remove the pervading sense of uncertainty that has
been created by the present policies of the government and its varying forecasts of future plans,
leading to the drying up of initiative and enterprise in land, shop and factory alike. The party holds
that a sense of stability and incentive for individual effort can be restored only by strict adherence to
the fundamental rights and guarantee specified in the Constitution as originally adopted in respect
of freedom of property, trade and occupation and just compensation for any property compulsory
acquired by the state for public purposes.

7. The party holds that in the policies adopted for national development, priority must be assigned
to the basic needs of the people, namely, food, water, housing and clothing.

8. The party believes that every citizen has a fundamental right to educate his children according to
his choice and in a free atmosphere untrammelled by official directives and that the state should
afford facilities for such education without discrimination.

9. The party holds that the paramount need is for increasing food production and that this is best
attainted through the self-employed peasant proprietor who is interested in obtaining the highest
yield from his land. The party believes in an intensive program of agricultural improvement by
promoting the material and psychological inducements for greater production without disturbing

95
the harmony of rural life. The party holds that there should be no disturbance of ownership,
management and cultivation of land, but believe in a more effective programme than is being
followed at present in respect of irrigation and the supply of material, implements, credit and
marketing facilities.

The party believes in the need for giving every kind of help to agriculture but is opposed to
cultivation through organizations which reduce price ownership to an empty paper-title and which
bring into being a loose kind of multiple ownership which is certain to sap the incentive of the
farmer and his family, reduce output, and take us to a collective economy with official management.
It is firmly opposed to collectivization and bureaucratic management of the rural economy.

The Party takes note of the dissatisfaction amongst the rural population that adequate attention has
not been paid to their needs. It holds that the level of life of the rural people should be improved by
removing all such impediments as are likely to stand in the way of their attaining a high standard of
life and by taking all steps necessary for the purpose in particular for maintaining a reasonable and
steady price for agricultural produce, which is parity with other prices.

10. In industry, the party believes in the incentives for higher production and expansion inherent in
competitive enterprise with adequate safeguards for the protection of labour and against
unreasonable profits, prices or where competition does not secure the necessary corrective. The
party stands for the restriction of state enterprise to heavy industries such as are necessary to
supplement private enterprise in that field, such national services as Railways and the starting of
new enterprises which are difficult for private initiative.

The party is opposed to the state entering the field of trade and disturbing free distribution and
introducing controls and official management with all its wastefulness and inefficiency.

The party believes that in the field of production, the free choice of the producer and the consumer
must be given basic place and importance.

11. The party stands for the preservation of the freedom of the email and self-employed artisans,
craftsmen and traders who are in danger of losing their occupational opportunities by reason of the
policy of statism. These persons perform a great, widespread and inexpensive function in our
society, and their gradual extinction will be a national misfortune and add to our unemployment
problem.

12. The party stands for great thrift in public expenditure. It holds that taxation should be kept at
such levels as will not interfere with reasonable living standard for the people, both rural and urban,
and which while being necessary and sufficient for the carrying on of administration and such social
and economic services as are taken up by the state, is yet not so high and exacting or so ubiquitous
as to prevent capital formation and private investment.

13. The party is opposed to a programme of development based on crippling taxation, abnormal
deficit financing and foreign loans which are beyond the capacity of the country to repay.

14. The party is opposed to all policies that lead to excessive inflation, high prices that reduce the
value of savings, endowments and fixed incomes, and which create undue hardships for the present
generation in the hope of a distant gain.

96
15. The party believes that the cost of public administration should be reduced considerably. It
stands for integrity and efficiency in the services. It is against the expansion of the bureaucratic
machine, with a hierarchy of officials asked to do work which is best done by citizens and private
agencies, resulting in unproductive waste of national resources.

16. The party believes that the state will best serve the nation by encouraging and affording facilities
for a decentralised distribution of industry and by limiting its own regulatory function to the
prevention and punishment of anti-social activities wherever called for.

17. The party stands for the creation of opportunities for full and lasting employment in all sectors of
life. It stands for a programme of all-round industrialization with a view to developing national
resources and reducing unemployment. It believes in a balanced development of capital goods,
industries, organized consumer goods industries and rural industries that afford supplementary
employment in small scale processing of the products of agriculture.

18. The party stands for a fair deal for labour, whether in the field, factory or office and for
correlating to wages, increased productivity and for workers right to organize for the purpose of
collective bargaining. It stands for harmonizing the interests of capital and labour when they get into
conflict.

19. The party is opposed to any form of pressure being put on officials to deflect them from the
course of fair and just discharge of duties without discrimination. It stands for the rule of law, an
independent judiciary, and for the full play of powers of judicial review given to the courts by the
Constitution.

20. The party shall in all matters keep before itself the cardinal teaching of Gandhiji, maintaining
faith in the people and in the efficacy of truth non-violence.

21. The Swatantra party holds that democracy is best served if every political party allows freedom
of opinion to its members on all matters outside the fundamental principles of the party. It,
therefore, gives its members full liberty on all questions not falling within the scope of the principles
stated above.

97
Appendix II: Copy of Prof. Rangas Letter to Mr. Dahyabhai Patel
Prof. N. G. Ranga Nidubrolu (A.P.)
Camp. Oriental Building, 86/19, Janpath,
New Delhi.
Nov. 30, 1971

My dear Shri Dahyabhaijee,

I have already intimated the party in the course of my letter, offering my resignation from the
National Executive, that there is need for all democrats to reorient their attitudes, policies and
programmes in the light of and harmony with the decision of the electorate in March Election. I
consider that our people have staged a peaceful and democratic revolution in March.

I have all along been a democrat and Gandhian Socialist and so thought it fit to honour the social and
political content and import of the March Revolution. I resigned form the Congress in 1959 as a
protest against Jawaharlaljees insistence upon imposing one-sided ceilings upon agriculturalists.
Now that the present government wishes to remove that invidious discrimination, I cannot ask
peasants, in all conscience, to oppose it. The present 25th Amendment Bill, read with the official
amendments tabled by the Law Minister can only enable Parliament or State Legislatures to tamper
with all properties not merely agricultural properties by a special majority as in the case of
Constitutional amendments.

I worked for the abolition of zamindaris. We have had to accept the 17th Amendment, which applied
the same principles to Ryotwari peasants also. How can I now object to this extension of the same
treatment to non-agricultural properties also.

I feel that the time has come, in view of the failure of pre-March democracy to lessen the misery of
our masses and improve their basic living condition and employment opportunities, for enlivening
the relative directive principle embodied in Article 39 b and c and for that purpose, to condition the
privileges of non-agricultural properties and interests, in the same way as agricultural properties and
interests have been dealt with by the 17th Amendment. I cannot, therefore, advise our masses, to
oppose this Bill.

I request you to view this Bill and such proposals in the light of the March Revolution, which should
be respected by all genuine democrats.

Yours affectionately,

(Prof.) N. G. Ranga.

Shri Dayabhaijee V. Patel,


Chairman,
Swatantra Group in Parliament
New Delhi.

98
Appendix III: Copy of Mr. Dandekars Letter to Prof. Ranga
N. Dandekar Southlands
I.C.S. (Retd.) 177, Upper Colaba,
Bombay - 5.

Ref.: SP-P-712 4th January 1972.

Dear Prof. Ranga,

I have just seen a copy of your letter dated November, 30th, 1971, addressed to Dayabhai Patel. It
gives rise to some thoughts which I would like to share with you:

(1) The essential difference between land and other forms of property is this, that while the extent
of arable land is inherently limited by nature, all other forms of property (e.g. Buildings, whether
urban or rural) are not so limited because they are created by the efforts and enterprise of men.

Hence to put a ceiling on urban property would virtually put an end to the growth of the building
industry; and if the object is to provide more housing at low cost to the poor, I know of no better
way to defeat the object.

(2) Moreover, why do you single out from other property only urban buildings? Why not all other
forms of property, whether urban or rural, and whether in the form of buildings or any other?

(3) What do you think would happen in our (still) non-communist Republic of India if ceilings were
placed on what an individual may have by way of:

a) income?
b) Cash and bank balance?
c) Not only buildings, but also shares, loans and advances, plant and machinery, debentures,
government securities?
d) Everything, infact, that can be called income or property?

(4) The result would surely be that everyone will

a) endeavour to earn only the least he needs, i.e. the ceiling income;
b) undertake no other enterprise or endeavour or take no risks of any kind;
c) save little or nothing;
d) invest little or nothing.

(5) Except in a communist state, i.e. in our non-Communist state of India that is Bharat, all
economic progress will thus come to a grinding halt, if one were to extend to its logical conclusion
your argument that because one bad thing was done (i.e. land ceilings), therefore all bad things
should necessarily be done in order to remove invidious discrimination.

(6) However, let me for a moment ignore property altogether, as being something that has
suddenly become a dirty word, as a result of what you call the March Revolution and the
consequent 24th Constitutional Amendment.

99
Even so, are you seriously suggesting that the 25th Amendment does the right thing by placing in
jeopardy even my friend Professor Rangas rights -

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;


(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms?
(c) to form association of unions?
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India?
(e) to reside and settle in any part of India?
(f) to own (the dirty word) property .
(g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

(7) Are you really content to accept the potential deprivation of Rajaji, for instance, (or even of
myself) of any of the above rights, if the ruling party should consider this necessary at any time for
enlivening (as you put it) the directive principles of state policy?

In short, even as a genuine democrat, you are really accepting that we should, even in ordinary
times, have no more rights and liberties than those now permissible during the continuance of the
present Proclamation of Emergency relevant to a state of war?

I CANNOT BELIEVE IT.

You must be a different Prof. Ranga from the one who thundered and fought for freedom and liberty
for nearly half a century. You sound more like one who invents a grand phrase (the March
Revolution) merely to seek refuge from having otherwise to admit the collapse (even if it be
temporary ), not only of all that he stood for throughout his lifetime, but also of his endurance or
capacity to continue resistance against every encroachment against any fundamental freedom of
liberty of the citizen.

With gloomy forebodings for 1972 and in the years to follow,

Yours sorrowfully,

N. Dandekar

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Appendix IV: Copy of Letter Addressed by Col. Pasricha to The
National Headquarters in January 1970
1. Ten years is not a long period in the life of a nation, or a political party, but, for a comparatively
new party like Swatantra, it is necessary that a periodic check of its course should take place to
ascertain that it is keeping to the charted course, and, that by persevering alone, it would achieve
the objective it set for itself.

2. The enthusiasm generated at its inception was heartening, but very soon it began to wane. No
doubt all enthusiasm in this country is effervescent, but a good deal of damage was done to the
party by Mr. Nehrus slogan rich mans party and his government pressuring the industrialist
and businessman not to join or help the party. The Indian commercial community, known for its
shortsightedness, succumbed easily. Immediate gain was more luring and the ultimate threat too
distant. The weapon of permits and licences was effectively employed to queer the pitch for the
party. The party itself also did its best to encourage the commercial community to disregard it.

3. No one, unless he wishes to shut his eyes to facts, can deny that the party has not made the
progress it was expected to make. On the contrary, there has been a falling off of its strength. This
necessitates a search for the cause or causes thereof.

4. India is a traditionalist country where the appeal of religion is strong and the inclination to change
minimal. Violence of all sorts has been eschewed by most of the prevailing religions. Revolution is
not in the genius of the people, loud propaganda made by communists and so-called progressive
notwithstanding. Acceptance of poverty has been taught by the Hindu religion and was practiced by
Mahatma Gandhi. Paradoxically, attachment to property is deeply rooted in the Indian psyche.

5. The creed of Swatantra Party is liberal as well as traditional. It wishes to maintain and enlarge
individual liberty and freedom. It is against regimentation and dispossession of property. It visualizes
a liberal, democratic form of government. It opposes statism. A creed like that should appeal
naturally to the Indian mind. Therefore, we may conclude that there is nothing wrong with the
Swatantra gospel. If it has not attracted followers in large numbers, the failure must be human
ineffective proselytization.

6. The tactics followed by the party have been unimaginative. For instance:

Unqualified support to the business community:

(a) It was extremely unimaginative to give unqualified support to the commercial


community. The party should not have ignored the long standing tradition of the business
community of siding with the government of the day in complete disregard to its own long-
term interests. Also the party should, have taken into account the extremely sordid image of
Indian businessmen in the public eye.

(b) Recently, Mr. Masani publicly admonished the business community for dragging its feet
in supporting the only party that stands for and advocates free enterprise, but this could
have been done earlier. Not a shadow of doubt should have been left in the minds of this
community that the Swatantra Partys support was not automatic; it was not to be taken for
granted. It was conditional; it depended on a wide realization by the community that they

101
would not be doing any favour to anyone except themselves in supporting the party. It
should have been explained to them that the new party needed a lot of expense to nurture
it, and that it was good investment to help it. Also, it should have been made clear to them
that their public image needed a great deal of burnishing. It is not enough for one person
(Mr. Masani) to emphasis the facts; all the leaders should have seized opportunities to lay
emphasis on this important aspect of political reality.

(b) Parliamentary work

(i) Too much emphasis and reliance has been placed upon this aspect of Party activity.
Effective opposition in the countrys legislatures is essential; a parliamentary faade must be
maintained, but with a clear realization that it is not the raison detre of the party. It could
not help much in spreading the party gospel. Speeches in Parliament, no matter how
brilliant, cogent and eloquent, cannot raise a party from the grass roots.

(ii) Parliamentary activity, today, has become cramped and confined by the prevailing rigid
party system. Party whips control votes and members are not free to change their allegiance
even if so convinced. Innumerable defections in the country are not ideologically motivated.
Whom, then, are we trying to convert by our speeches in Parliament and other legislatures?
Communists, Socialists of the P.S.P. or the S.S.P. variety are not amenable to conversion. To
them ideology is more important that the country.

(iii) Are the speeches aimed at the public at large outside the House? How many of these
speeches are reported in full? How many people read them or reading them understand?

(iv) It should be realized that from the conversion point of view, parliamentary work is an
exercise in futility.

(v) There is a positive drawback also. The parliamentarian, having worked hard on his speech
and delivered it, considers it a great job done for the party and the country. Self-esteem
prevents him from realizing that the ultimate impact of the speech on public opinion, which
is what matters, is hardly adequate to lend him grounds for self-satisfaction. He lives and
labours under a delusion that parliamentary work is the end all and be all of party work. This
delusion must be considered.

(vi) Work in the legislature is essential, it cannot be neglected. We cannot allow our case to
go by default in the legislatures. Parliamentary work is a compulsion of parliamentary
democracy. But it is only one of the many fronts on which the party has to fight. It should
not absorb all the energies of the party. Our real front, where the ultimate battle would be
won or lost, lies outside the legislatures. It lies among the people.

(vii) It is the people who are sovereign; it is they who elect the legislatures, and it is they who
must be converted. It is among them that the seed of our gospel must be widely scattered.
Once the people have been won over, seats in legislatures would follow as a matter of
course.

(viii) Parliamentary work, or rather our preoccupation with it, has side-tracked our workers
energies from the work of paramount importance. There is money in elections, and the lure

102
of filthy lucre has won them. There is a mistaken notion that the party is stinking with
money.

(ix) In a frantic effort to fill the legislatures with Swatantra members in order to quickly
capture power, we have ignored old and tried workers and lent support to all kinds of
unscrupulous scoundrels and other nondescripts without conscience or character who, once
elected, shamelessly deserted the party heaping obloquy and ignominy on us. This
shortcoming can be squarely nailed to the door of the leadership its lack of
perceptiveness and understanding of human beings.

(x)In my contact with some of the state parties, I have come to form the opinion that some
of the party chiefs are, or have become, deeply interested in keeping the party confined to
their own supporters so that their authority is never challenged. At election time, they set
up their own candidates who have no chance of being elected but who bring money to the
chief. Misappropriation of election funds collected in the name of the party is another
gimmick.

(xi) To recapitulate, over-emphasis on parliamentary work, while not doing us much good,
has brought in its train a good deal of corruption and disloyalty to the Party. Lure of money
has won the workers, while the legislators have developed a superior class mentality. It has
not helped us win much support in or outside the legislatures. In fact, it can be stated that
from the proselytizing point of view, parliamentary work has been an exercise in futility.

Workers Cadre: I am sure, everyone belonging to the party feels the lack of a body of workers
devoted to the party. It is the greatest need of the party. This deficiency must be made up by
devoting special attention to this aspect of party work.

This task should be specially entrusted to the personal care of each provincial chief. It should be his
special anxiety to see that each district raises and maintains a small body of workers, while a larger
body is raised at the state capital. Their training and indoctrination should be his special
responsibility.

These workers must be produced before the touring officers, who must check their party cards and
their careers in the corps. This is necessary because it is a common trick to get together a few non-
descripts who have no interest in the party and pass them off as workers to impress the visiting
dignitary.

I have seen this trick played on the new president (Masani).

General Remarks: These have nothing to do with the party directly, but indirectly, they have a great
deal of bearing and importance.

12. Inertia is a natural element of human psychological make-up. The human mind is lazy and would
preferably not act. In India, this natural element is large and is reinforced greatly by a hot sapping
climate. There is general malaise, action is difficult to obtain, but empty talk is abundant. To
illustrate, criticism of the ruling party is widespread, but the desire to take practical action minimal.
Quite often, disconcertingly often, people who criticize loudly do not even take the trouble to
exercise their right of vote. Whenever confronted with this kind of criticism, I always ask if the

103
person voted in the last general election. More often than not, he did not. I advise such people to
take practical steps to chose the government they like rather than just criticize.

13. One outcome of inertia is utter lack of the faculty of organization, since that requires both
thinking and acting. The Indian is incapable of building a good organization. Efforts to do so are
unnecessary fuss to him. Despite eighty years of existence, twenty of them in power, the Congress
Party has not built an efficient organization. At the time of elections, large number of so-called
workers tempted by money or other rewards later, come forward to work for the Congress Party,
but there are no organized bodies constituency wise constituting a permanent skeleton
structure functioning all the year round. Our commercial organizations suffer from the same malady.
No doubt, there are some well organized commercial undertakings, but, generally, organizations of
most commercial houses are little more than a group of close or family relations well-versed in the
art of sordid manipulations and manoeuvrings. In fact, it can be stated that quite a number of large
industrial house do not know how to make profit by honest and straightforward means.

14. The people are sorely disenchanted by the behaviour of the ruling class and they are not wrong.
All the idealism generated by Mahatma Gandhi evaporated soon after independence leaving behind
nothing but brazen rapaciousness. The public seem to have lost faith in politicians. However, the loss
of faith has to be properly interpreted and explained to the public; disillusionment must be nailed
squarely to the corruption of the ruling party. General and sweeping condemnation of all and sundry
comes easily to inertia-oriented minds in vicarious replacement of action.

15. India has always lacked an elite class, although it has produced outstanding men from time to
time. A large body of cultured, patriotic men of integrity has never come into existence. There never
have been a large number of outstanding personalities to stand as beacons to the rest. Some years
ago, I asked the ambassador of a neutral western country who seemed to have studied India and
Indian society a good deal, what, in his opinion, was wrong with India. His answer was very
revealing. He said: India has produced some very remarkable men, but it has never produced
enough of them at one true and at all levels of society to set a good example to the rest.

16. It is true that it is not possible to create an elite class at short notice; it needs generations of
culture to do so, nor can a young party like Swatantra adopt such an ambitious programme.
However, let all political leaders who find their hats getting too big for them bear this in mind that
they cannot lay claim to the prestige due to the elite without producing actions to match. The
utmost they can do is to so model their actions that the people do not hesitate to offer them respect
and honour. A Man of Honour is infinitely better than the richest man in the land or the greatest
political leader

H. R. Pasricha

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Appendix V: Copy of letter addressed by Col. H. R. Pasricha to Mr. Piloo
Mody through the General Secretary of the Party, dated April 25,
1973.
Sir,

I take the liberty of addressing you at this important junction in the larger interest of the party.

A tragic streak of fate prevents human beings profiting from History. To take only one example: If
Czar Nicholas had taken a lesson from the fate of Louis XIV of France in 1792, he might have escaped
the nemesis that overtook him in 1918.

Coming down to our own little world and the smaller world of our party, it can be stated that the
same tragic streak of relentless fate has trailed it from the very beginning. Each successive leader In-
charge of the party has stubbornly refused to take a lesson form the failures of his predecessor.

To quote a few facts:

1. Mr. M. R. Masani, with a singleness of purpose and aim, relied mainly upon parliamentary activity
to build the party a decision which, ipso-facto, obliged him to rely upon hand-picked careerists of
influence but little stake in the party and less belief in its principles and even less in integrity. Little
wonder, they abandoned the party when it suited them, e.g. the circus show put in Rajasthan with
the help of Kumba Ram Arya, who instead of hoisting the party to power, abandoned it as soon as he
found his gamble had failed.

2. All this, despite repeated warnings to Mr. Masani against such shortsighted hurry.

3. Mr. Masanis Waterloo came, when at the behest and guidance of Rajaji and your support, he
made the National Executive agree to the forging of the Grand Alliance. He may have forgotten, but

I distinctly remember the words in which I warned him of the approaching disaster. I said to him
while he sat in Rajajis cottage along with Dahyabhai Patel, I hope, Masani, you do not have to shed
bitter tears of sorrow as a result of the decision you have taken today. The rest of the story is too
well known to need .repetition.

4. The Masani era was followed by a short interlude of Mr. Dandekers leadership. Completely
disregarding the fatal weakness of the Masani plan, he sought to achieve a miracle in Haryana. For
this he took to his bosom a rank opportunist, careerist and a confirmed defector and entrusted the
entire campaign to him who played the well-known Indian rope-trick of putting up his own stooges
who had not a hope in hell of winning but who helped him to vast sums of money placed at his
disposal. The solitary seat that was won was soon lost through prompt defection. What a marvellous
piece of perceptive judgement!

5. Then followed the tragic-comedy of Mr. H.M. Patels stewardship. I warned him at Baroda to take
heed and not walk the plank to self-destruction (political) like his predecessors but to try and lay
secure and strong foundations for the party. He agreed with me in the need for the same, but
added: Assembly elections are impending, and they are more important. Disaster at these
electoral elections on which he pinned his faith was a foregone conclusion.

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And, now, sir, the fate of the party is in your hands and, permit me to say, that you have built your
house of cards on the same, old quicksands. Friends who tell the bitter are never appreciated in
this country; because, in place of modesty, the Indian has been blessed with a plentiful supply of
self-esteem very tender and easily upbraided. However, there must be somebody who, in the
larger interests of the party would be prepared to tell the truth and brave the consequences.

I am sure, today, that you are going to meet your Waterloo in U.P. and with that the party shall have
taken another knock which might prove the last straw. I say this in no spirit of personal antagonism.
A military officer is trained more rigorously than any civilian in India. He is taught to respect the chair
irrespective of the person occupying it for the time being. It is very difficult for him to get out of that
habit inoculated over the years. Therefore, let me assure you that my person loyalty to you or to
anyone occupying the chair would always remain above suspicion despite wide differences of
opinion.

In that spirit of true loyalty to you and the party, permit me to make an appeal to you. Please realize
that there is no one in our party, or, for that matter, in any other Indian political party, who can raise
or charm a large following of people through his personal charisma. There is not much of that rare
commodity in present day political personalities.

With that realization uppermost in the mind, and in a spirit of complete and total self-denial, burying
all considerations of self-advancement, let us evolve a realistic scheme to lay down strong and
secure foundations for the party and raise the structure from below upwards.

H. R. Pasricha.

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Appendix VI: Copy of Letter from Mr. N. Dandeker to Col. H. R.
Pasricha dated 5th May 1973.
Dear Col. Pasricha,

I have received the copy you sent me of your letter of 25th April addressed to the General Secretary
of Swatantra Party (National Headquarters) for onward transmission to the President (Piloo Mody).

Have you a specific plan for the U.P. Assembly Elections of 1973 such as will avoid all the pitfalls and
make up for the absence of a leader with a personaroWsma? If you have, let us have it.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Sd/- N. Dandeker.

Col. Pasrichas Reply

Dear Mr. Dandeker.

Your letter dated 5th May makes very interesting reading. I thought the central theme of my letter
was something more fundamental than plans for election campaigns. For years, I have been saying
that our total preoccupation with parliamentary activity was bound to be our undoing. Instead of
going to the people, we went to parliament. Seats in Parliament follow public support and not` vice-
versa.

To that effect, I must have addressed atleast three letters to the National HQ. complete with a
detailed scheme for training workers who would go among the people to spread our gospel. At one
of the Executive meetings, at the bidding of Mr. Madhu Mehta, I produced even a detailed syllabus
for such a training. But the General Secretary had no real intention of accepting such an idea; he was
merely testing me, I suppose. We have hoards of educated unemployed who could be utilized for
the purpose of spreading our gospel.

When resources were available, they were poured into election campaigns leaving nothing behind
for building a hard core of dedicated workers.

It is too late now to ask for plans for electoral success. Dedicated workers cannot be trained in a few
months or even a year. We talked a great deal about cadres, but did not do anything to raise or train
them. Your aim in asking me for plans for U.P. elections must be to prove that I have no practical
plans and I am talking through my hat. It is an old service trick with which I am quite familiar.

Let me assure you that no one can cook a magic formula to convert thirteen years of neglect of
basic, fundamental work of a political party into a resounding success. There are no magic wands to
be waved. Laws of cause and effect are inexorable; neglect must lead to failure.

Our party is a party of leaders with hardly any following. Everyone chides us with that, and there is
no answer. We have seen and unconcernedly watched the slow death of the party in the whole of
North India without doing any radical thinking. We have had leaders in the National Executive who
told lies unashamedly; who made false promises they knew they could not fulfill. I particularly refer

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to a brazen promise made by one eminent gentlemen of raising five thousand workers when he
knew he had not raised even fifty in the past.

Let it not be said in history that the Swatantra party started with noble principles, but was not able
to produce one apt leader with imagination and a spirit of self-denial to devote himself
singlemindedly to raising of the party in a natural way in complete disregard of personal
advancement. It is a tall order, but without such an outstanding personality, there is not a hope in
hell for the party, much less a Bright Future.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

H. R. Pasricha

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