NCERT Textbook - Challenges to and Restoration of Congress System Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

NCERT Textbooks (Class 6 to Class 12)

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Challenges to and Restoration of Congress System Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


In this chapter…
In chapter two we read about the emergence of the congress 
system. t his system was first challenged during the 1960s. As political 
competition became more intense, the congress found it difficult to 
retain its dominance. It faced challenges from the opposition that was 
more powerful and less divided than before. t he c ongress also faced 
challenges from within, as the party could no longer accommodate all 
kinds of differences. In this chapter we pick the story from where we left 
it in c hapter t wo, in order to  
•	 understand	how	the	political	transition 	took	place	after	Nehru;
•	 describe 	 how	 the	 opposition	 unity	 and	 the	 Congres s	 split	 posed	 a	
challenge	to	Congress	 dominance;
•	 explain 	 how	 a	 new 	 Cong ress	 led	 by	 Indira 	 Gandhi	 overcame	 these 	
challenges;	 and
•	 analyse	 how 	 new 	 policies	 and 	 ideologies	 facilitated 	 the	 restoration	
of the c ongress system.
 
Originally the election 
symbol of the congress 
was a pair of bullocks. 
This famous cartoon 
depicts the changes 
within the congress 
leading to a head-
on confrontation in 
the 22nd year after 
Independence.
c redit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 2


In this chapter…
In chapter two we read about the emergence of the congress 
system. t his system was first challenged during the 1960s. As political 
competition became more intense, the congress found it difficult to 
retain its dominance. It faced challenges from the opposition that was 
more powerful and less divided than before. t he c ongress also faced 
challenges from within, as the party could no longer accommodate all 
kinds of differences. In this chapter we pick the story from where we left 
it in c hapter t wo, in order to  
•	 understand	how	the	political	transition 	took	place	after	Nehru;
•	 describe 	 how	 the	 opposition	 unity	 and	 the	 Congres s	 split	 posed	 a	
challenge	to	Congress	 dominance;
•	 explain 	 how	 a	 new 	 Cong ress	 led	 by	 Indira 	 Gandhi	 overcame	 these 	
challenges;	 and
•	 analyse	 how 	 new 	 policies	 and 	 ideologies	 facilitated 	 the	 restoration	
of the c ongress system.
 
Originally the election 
symbol of the congress 
was a pair of bullocks. 
This famous cartoon 
depicts the changes 
within the congress 
leading to a head-
on confrontation in 
the 22nd year after 
Independence.
c redit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Challenge of Political Succession 
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru passed away in May 1964. He 
had been unwell for more than a year. This had generated a lot of 
speculation about the usual question of succession: after Nehru, 
who? But in a newly independent country like India, this situation 
gave rise to a more serious question: after Nehru, what?
The second question arose from the serious doubts that many 
outsiders had about whether India’s democratic experiment will 
survive after Nehru. It was feared that like so many other newly 
independent countries, India too would not be able to manage a 
democratic succession. A failure to do so, it was feared, could lead 
to a political role for the army. Besides, there were doubts if the new 
leadership would be able to handle the multiple crises that awaited 
a solution. The 1960s were labelled as the ‘dangerous decade’ when 
When 
France 
or c anada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 3


In this chapter…
In chapter two we read about the emergence of the congress 
system. t his system was first challenged during the 1960s. As political 
competition became more intense, the congress found it difficult to 
retain its dominance. It faced challenges from the opposition that was 
more powerful and less divided than before. t he c ongress also faced 
challenges from within, as the party could no longer accommodate all 
kinds of differences. In this chapter we pick the story from where we left 
it in c hapter t wo, in order to  
•	 understand	how	the	political	transition 	took	place	after	Nehru;
•	 describe 	 how	 the	 opposition	 unity	 and	 the	 Congres s	 split	 posed	 a	
challenge	to	Congress	 dominance;
•	 explain 	 how	 a	 new 	 Cong ress	 led	 by	 Indira 	 Gandhi	 overcame	 these 	
challenges;	 and
•	 analyse	 how 	 new 	 policies	 and 	 ideologies	 facilitated 	 the	 restoration	
of the c ongress system.
 
Originally the election 
symbol of the congress 
was a pair of bullocks. 
This famous cartoon 
depicts the changes 
within the congress 
leading to a head-
on confrontation in 
the 22nd year after 
Independence.
c redit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Challenge of Political Succession 
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru passed away in May 1964. He 
had been unwell for more than a year. This had generated a lot of 
speculation about the usual question of succession: after Nehru, 
who? But in a newly independent country like India, this situation 
gave rise to a more serious question: after Nehru, what?
The second question arose from the serious doubts that many 
outsiders had about whether India’s democratic experiment will 
survive after Nehru. It was feared that like so many other newly 
independent countries, India too would not be able to manage a 
democratic succession. A failure to do so, it was feared, could lead 
to a political role for the army. Besides, there were doubts if the new 
leadership would be able to handle the multiple crises that awaited 
a solution. The 1960s were labelled as the ‘dangerous decade’ when 
When 
France 
or c anada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
2015-16(21/01/2015)
84                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
unresolved problems like poverty, inequality, communal and regional 
divisions etc. could lead to a failure of the democratic project or even 
the disintegration of the country.
From Nehru to Shastri
The ease with which the succession after Nehru took place proved all 
the critics wrong. When Nehru passed away, K. Kamraj, the president 
of the c ongress party consulted party leaders and c ongress members 
of Parliament and found that there was a consensus in favour of Lal 
Bahadur Shastri. He was unanimously chosen as the leader of the 
c ongress parliamentary party and thus  became the country’s next 
Prime Minister.  Shastri was a non-controversial leader from Uttar 
Pradesh who had been a Minister in Nehru’s cabinet for many years. 
Nehru had come to depend a lot on him in his last year. He was 
known for his simplicity and his commitment to  principles. Earlier 
he had resigned from the position of Railway Minister accepting moral 
responsibility for a major railway accident. 
Shastri was the country’s Prime Minister from 1964 to 1966. 
During Shastri’s brief Prime Ministership, the country faced two 
major challenges.  While India was still recovering from the economic 
implications of the war with china, failed monsoons, drought and 
serious food crisis presented a grave challenge. As discussed in the 
previous chapter, the country also faced a war with Pakistan in 
1965. Shastri’s famous slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, symbolised the 
country’s resolve to face both these challenges. 
Shastri’s Prime Ministership came to an abrupt end on 10 January 
1966, when he suddenly expired in Tashkent, then in USSR and  
currently the capital of Uzbekistan. He was there to discuss and sign 
an agreement with Muhammad Ayub Khan, the then President of 
Pakistan, to end the war. 
From Shastri to Indira Gandhi
Thus the c ongress faced the challenge of political succession for the 
second time in two years.  This time there was an intense competition 
between Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi. Morarji Desai had earlier 
served as c hief Minister of Bombay state (today’s Maharashtra and 
Gujarat) and also as a Minister at the centre.  Indira Gandhi, the 
daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, had been c ongress President in the 
past and had also been Union Minister for Information in the Shastri 
cabinet. This time the senior leaders in the party decided to back 
Indira Gandhi, but the decision was not unanimous.  The contest 
was resolved through a secret ballot among congress MPs.  Indira 
Gandhi defeated Morarji Desai by securing the support of more than 
two-thirds of the party’s MPs.  A peaceful transition of power, despite 
intense competition for leadership, was seen as a sign of maturity of 
India’s democracy.
                  …new Prime 
Minister of India, in spite 
of all forebodings, had been 
named with more dispatch, 
and much more dignity, 
than was the new Prime 
Minister of Britain.
Editorial in The Guardian, 
London, 3 June 1964, 
comparing the political 
succession after Nehru 
with the succession drama 
after Harold Macmillan in 
Britain.  
Lal Bahadur 
Shastri  
(1904-1966):  
Prime Minister of 
India; 	 participated	
in the freedom 
movement since 
1930; 	 minister	
in 	 UP 	 cabinet;	
General 	 Secretary	
of 	 Congress;	
Minister in Union 
c abinet from  
1951 to 1956 when 
he resigned taking 
responsibility for 
the railway accident 
and later from 1957 
to 	 1964; 	 coined 	 the	
famous slogan ‘Jai 
Jawan-Jai Kisan’.
“
“
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 4


In this chapter…
In chapter two we read about the emergence of the congress 
system. t his system was first challenged during the 1960s. As political 
competition became more intense, the congress found it difficult to 
retain its dominance. It faced challenges from the opposition that was 
more powerful and less divided than before. t he c ongress also faced 
challenges from within, as the party could no longer accommodate all 
kinds of differences. In this chapter we pick the story from where we left 
it in c hapter t wo, in order to  
•	 understand	how	the	political	transition 	took	place	after	Nehru;
•	 describe 	 how	 the	 opposition	 unity	 and	 the	 Congres s	 split	 posed	 a	
challenge	to	Congress	 dominance;
•	 explain 	 how	 a	 new 	 Cong ress	 led	 by	 Indira 	 Gandhi	 overcame	 these 	
challenges;	 and
•	 analyse	 how 	 new 	 policies	 and 	 ideologies	 facilitated 	 the	 restoration	
of the c ongress system.
 
Originally the election 
symbol of the congress 
was a pair of bullocks. 
This famous cartoon 
depicts the changes 
within the congress 
leading to a head-
on confrontation in 
the 22nd year after 
Independence.
c redit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Challenge of Political Succession 
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru passed away in May 1964. He 
had been unwell for more than a year. This had generated a lot of 
speculation about the usual question of succession: after Nehru, 
who? But in a newly independent country like India, this situation 
gave rise to a more serious question: after Nehru, what?
The second question arose from the serious doubts that many 
outsiders had about whether India’s democratic experiment will 
survive after Nehru. It was feared that like so many other newly 
independent countries, India too would not be able to manage a 
democratic succession. A failure to do so, it was feared, could lead 
to a political role for the army. Besides, there were doubts if the new 
leadership would be able to handle the multiple crises that awaited 
a solution. The 1960s were labelled as the ‘dangerous decade’ when 
When 
France 
or c anada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
2015-16(21/01/2015)
84                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
unresolved problems like poverty, inequality, communal and regional 
divisions etc. could lead to a failure of the democratic project or even 
the disintegration of the country.
From Nehru to Shastri
The ease with which the succession after Nehru took place proved all 
the critics wrong. When Nehru passed away, K. Kamraj, the president 
of the c ongress party consulted party leaders and c ongress members 
of Parliament and found that there was a consensus in favour of Lal 
Bahadur Shastri. He was unanimously chosen as the leader of the 
c ongress parliamentary party and thus  became the country’s next 
Prime Minister.  Shastri was a non-controversial leader from Uttar 
Pradesh who had been a Minister in Nehru’s cabinet for many years. 
Nehru had come to depend a lot on him in his last year. He was 
known for his simplicity and his commitment to  principles. Earlier 
he had resigned from the position of Railway Minister accepting moral 
responsibility for a major railway accident. 
Shastri was the country’s Prime Minister from 1964 to 1966. 
During Shastri’s brief Prime Ministership, the country faced two 
major challenges.  While India was still recovering from the economic 
implications of the war with china, failed monsoons, drought and 
serious food crisis presented a grave challenge. As discussed in the 
previous chapter, the country also faced a war with Pakistan in 
1965. Shastri’s famous slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, symbolised the 
country’s resolve to face both these challenges. 
Shastri’s Prime Ministership came to an abrupt end on 10 January 
1966, when he suddenly expired in Tashkent, then in USSR and  
currently the capital of Uzbekistan. He was there to discuss and sign 
an agreement with Muhammad Ayub Khan, the then President of 
Pakistan, to end the war. 
From Shastri to Indira Gandhi
Thus the c ongress faced the challenge of political succession for the 
second time in two years.  This time there was an intense competition 
between Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi. Morarji Desai had earlier 
served as c hief Minister of Bombay state (today’s Maharashtra and 
Gujarat) and also as a Minister at the centre.  Indira Gandhi, the 
daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, had been c ongress President in the 
past and had also been Union Minister for Information in the Shastri 
cabinet. This time the senior leaders in the party decided to back 
Indira Gandhi, but the decision was not unanimous.  The contest 
was resolved through a secret ballot among congress MPs.  Indira 
Gandhi defeated Morarji Desai by securing the support of more than 
two-thirds of the party’s MPs.  A peaceful transition of power, despite 
intense competition for leadership, was seen as a sign of maturity of 
India’s democracy.
                  …new Prime 
Minister of India, in spite 
of all forebodings, had been 
named with more dispatch, 
and much more dignity, 
than was the new Prime 
Minister of Britain.
Editorial in The Guardian, 
London, 3 June 1964, 
comparing the political 
succession after Nehru 
with the succession drama 
after Harold Macmillan in 
Britain.  
Lal Bahadur 
Shastri  
(1904-1966):  
Prime Minister of 
India; 	 participated	
in the freedom 
movement since 
1930; 	 minister	
in 	 UP 	 cabinet;	
General 	 Secretary	
of 	 Congress;	
Minister in Union 
c abinet from  
1951 to 1956 when 
he resigned taking 
responsibility for 
the railway accident 
and later from 1957 
to 	 1964; 	 coined 	 the	
famous slogan ‘Jai 
Jawan-Jai Kisan’.
“
“
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Challenges to and Restoration of the Congress System                                           85  
It took some time before the new Prime Minister could settle down. 
While Indira Gandhi had been politically active for very long, she had 
served as a minister under Lal Bahadur Shastri only for a short period. 
The senior c ongress leaders may have supported Indira Gandhi in the 
belief that her administrative and political inexperience would compel 
her to be dependent on them for support and guidance.  Within a 
year of becoming Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi had to lead the party 
in a Lok Sabha election. Around this time, the economic situation in 
the country had further deteriorated, adding to her problems. Faced 
with these difficulties, she set out to gain control over the party and 
to demonstrate her leadership skills. 
Indira Gandhi (1917-1984): Prime Minister of India from 1966 to 1977 
and	 1980	 to	 1984; 	 daughte r 	 of 	 Jawaharlal	 Nehru;	 participated	 in 	 the	
freedom	 struggle	 as	 a	 young	 Congress	 worker;	 Congress	 President	
in	 1958 ; 	 minister	 in 	 Shastri’s 	 cabinet 	 from	 1964-66;	 led	 the	 Congress 	
party	 to 	 victory	 in	 1967,	 1971	 and 	 1980 	 general	 elections;	 credited	 with	
the slogan ‘garibi hatao’, victory in 1971 war and for policy initiatives 
like abolition of Privy Purse, nationalisation of banks, nuclear test and 
environmental 	protection; 	assassinated	on	31	October 	1984.			
c redit: R. K. Laxman in The Times of India, 18 January 1966
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 5


In this chapter…
In chapter two we read about the emergence of the congress 
system. t his system was first challenged during the 1960s. As political 
competition became more intense, the congress found it difficult to 
retain its dominance. It faced challenges from the opposition that was 
more powerful and less divided than before. t he c ongress also faced 
challenges from within, as the party could no longer accommodate all 
kinds of differences. In this chapter we pick the story from where we left 
it in c hapter t wo, in order to  
•	 understand	how	the	political	transition 	took	place	after	Nehru;
•	 describe 	 how	 the	 opposition	 unity	 and	 the	 Congres s	 split	 posed	 a	
challenge	to	Congress	 dominance;
•	 explain 	 how	 a	 new 	 Cong ress	 led	 by	 Indira 	 Gandhi	 overcame	 these 	
challenges;	 and
•	 analyse	 how 	 new 	 policies	 and 	 ideologies	 facilitated 	 the	 restoration	
of the c ongress system.
 
Originally the election 
symbol of the congress 
was a pair of bullocks. 
This famous cartoon 
depicts the changes 
within the congress 
leading to a head-
on confrontation in 
the 22nd year after 
Independence.
c redit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Challenge of Political Succession 
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru passed away in May 1964. He 
had been unwell for more than a year. This had generated a lot of 
speculation about the usual question of succession: after Nehru, 
who? But in a newly independent country like India, this situation 
gave rise to a more serious question: after Nehru, what?
The second question arose from the serious doubts that many 
outsiders had about whether India’s democratic experiment will 
survive after Nehru. It was feared that like so many other newly 
independent countries, India too would not be able to manage a 
democratic succession. A failure to do so, it was feared, could lead 
to a political role for the army. Besides, there were doubts if the new 
leadership would be able to handle the multiple crises that awaited 
a solution. The 1960s were labelled as the ‘dangerous decade’ when 
When 
France 
or c anada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
2015-16(21/01/2015)
84                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
unresolved problems like poverty, inequality, communal and regional 
divisions etc. could lead to a failure of the democratic project or even 
the disintegration of the country.
From Nehru to Shastri
The ease with which the succession after Nehru took place proved all 
the critics wrong. When Nehru passed away, K. Kamraj, the president 
of the c ongress party consulted party leaders and c ongress members 
of Parliament and found that there was a consensus in favour of Lal 
Bahadur Shastri. He was unanimously chosen as the leader of the 
c ongress parliamentary party and thus  became the country’s next 
Prime Minister.  Shastri was a non-controversial leader from Uttar 
Pradesh who had been a Minister in Nehru’s cabinet for many years. 
Nehru had come to depend a lot on him in his last year. He was 
known for his simplicity and his commitment to  principles. Earlier 
he had resigned from the position of Railway Minister accepting moral 
responsibility for a major railway accident. 
Shastri was the country’s Prime Minister from 1964 to 1966. 
During Shastri’s brief Prime Ministership, the country faced two 
major challenges.  While India was still recovering from the economic 
implications of the war with china, failed monsoons, drought and 
serious food crisis presented a grave challenge. As discussed in the 
previous chapter, the country also faced a war with Pakistan in 
1965. Shastri’s famous slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, symbolised the 
country’s resolve to face both these challenges. 
Shastri’s Prime Ministership came to an abrupt end on 10 January 
1966, when he suddenly expired in Tashkent, then in USSR and  
currently the capital of Uzbekistan. He was there to discuss and sign 
an agreement with Muhammad Ayub Khan, the then President of 
Pakistan, to end the war. 
From Shastri to Indira Gandhi
Thus the c ongress faced the challenge of political succession for the 
second time in two years.  This time there was an intense competition 
between Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi. Morarji Desai had earlier 
served as c hief Minister of Bombay state (today’s Maharashtra and 
Gujarat) and also as a Minister at the centre.  Indira Gandhi, the 
daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, had been c ongress President in the 
past and had also been Union Minister for Information in the Shastri 
cabinet. This time the senior leaders in the party decided to back 
Indira Gandhi, but the decision was not unanimous.  The contest 
was resolved through a secret ballot among congress MPs.  Indira 
Gandhi defeated Morarji Desai by securing the support of more than 
two-thirds of the party’s MPs.  A peaceful transition of power, despite 
intense competition for leadership, was seen as a sign of maturity of 
India’s democracy.
                  …new Prime 
Minister of India, in spite 
of all forebodings, had been 
named with more dispatch, 
and much more dignity, 
than was the new Prime 
Minister of Britain.
Editorial in The Guardian, 
London, 3 June 1964, 
comparing the political 
succession after Nehru 
with the succession drama 
after Harold Macmillan in 
Britain.  
Lal Bahadur 
Shastri  
(1904-1966):  
Prime Minister of 
India; 	 participated	
in the freedom 
movement since 
1930; 	 minister	
in 	 UP 	 cabinet;	
General 	 Secretary	
of 	 Congress;	
Minister in Union 
c abinet from  
1951 to 1956 when 
he resigned taking 
responsibility for 
the railway accident 
and later from 1957 
to 	 1964; 	 coined 	 the	
famous slogan ‘Jai 
Jawan-Jai Kisan’.
“
“
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Challenges to and Restoration of the Congress System                                           85  
It took some time before the new Prime Minister could settle down. 
While Indira Gandhi had been politically active for very long, she had 
served as a minister under Lal Bahadur Shastri only for a short period. 
The senior c ongress leaders may have supported Indira Gandhi in the 
belief that her administrative and political inexperience would compel 
her to be dependent on them for support and guidance.  Within a 
year of becoming Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi had to lead the party 
in a Lok Sabha election. Around this time, the economic situation in 
the country had further deteriorated, adding to her problems. Faced 
with these difficulties, she set out to gain control over the party and 
to demonstrate her leadership skills. 
Indira Gandhi (1917-1984): Prime Minister of India from 1966 to 1977 
and	 1980	 to	 1984; 	 daughte r 	 of 	 Jawaharlal	 Nehru;	 participated	 in 	 the	
freedom	 struggle	 as	 a	 young	 Congress	 worker;	 Congress	 President	
in	 1958 ; 	 minister	 in 	 Shastri’s 	 cabinet 	 from	 1964-66;	 led	 the	 Congress 	
party	 to 	 victory	 in	 1967,	 1971	 and 	 1980 	 general	 elections;	 credited	 with	
the slogan ‘garibi hatao’, victory in 1971 war and for policy initiatives 
like abolition of Privy Purse, nationalisation of banks, nuclear test and 
environmental 	protection; 	assassinated	on	31	October 	1984.			
c redit: R. K. Laxman in The Times of India, 18 January 1966
2015-16(21/01/2015)
86                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
Fourth General Elections, 1967 
The year 1967 is considered a landmark year in India’s political and 
electoral history. In c hapter Two you read about how the c ongress 
party was the dominant political force throughout the country from 
1952 onwards. This trend was to undergo significant changes with 
the 1967 elections. 
Context of the elections
In the years leading up to the fourth general elections, the country 
witnessed major changes. Two Prime Ministers had died in quick 
succession, and the new Prime Minister, who was being seen as a 
political novice, had been in office for less than a year.  You will recall 
from the discussion in c hapter Three and in the previous section of 
this chapter that the period was fraught with grave economic crisis 
resulting from successive failure of monsoons, widespread drought, 
It must have 
been difficult for  
her – one woman in a 
world dominated by men. 
Why don’t we have more 
women in positions 
like that?
c redit: Raghu Rai
2015-16(21/01/2015)
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