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

NCERT Textbooks (Class 6 to Class 12)

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

 Page 1


I t€?s ch‚ptƒr…
In Chapter Two we read about the emergence of the Congress 
system. This 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. The Congress 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 Chapter Two, in order to  
• understand how the political transition took place after Nehru;
• describe how the opposition unity and the Congress split posed a 
challenge to Congress dominance;
• explain how a new Congress led by Indira Gandhi overcame these 
challenges; and
• analyse how new policies and ideologies facilitated the restoration 
of the Congress 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.
Credit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2020-21
Page 2


I t€?s ch‚ptƒr…
In Chapter Two we read about the emergence of the Congress 
system. This 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. The Congress 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 Chapter Two, in order to  
• understand how the political transition took place after Nehru;
• describe how the opposition unity and the Congress split posed a 
challenge to Congress dominance;
• explain how a new Congress led by Indira Gandhi overcame these 
challenges; and
• analyse how new policies and ideologies facilitated the restoration 
of the Congress 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.
Credit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2020-21
Challenge of Political Succession 
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 Canada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
2020-21
Page 3


I t€?s ch‚ptƒr…
In Chapter Two we read about the emergence of the Congress 
system. This 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. The Congress 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 Chapter Two, in order to  
• understand how the political transition took place after Nehru;
• describe how the opposition unity and the Congress split posed a 
challenge to Congress dominance;
• explain how a new Congress led by Indira Gandhi overcame these 
challenges; and
• analyse how new policies and ideologies facilitated the restoration 
of the Congress 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.
Credit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2020-21
Challenge of Political Succession 
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 Canada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
2020-21
84                                                                   P!"#$%&s #' In(i) *#nc+ Ind,p,nd,nc+
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 Congress party consulted party leaders and Congress 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 
Congress 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 Congress 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 Chief 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 Congress 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.
                  …-,. P/#m+ 
M#0%? ,r 2  In(i), #' s5#t+ 
2  6"7 9:r;<o(#ngs, ha= <>,' 
-6me= ?#t@ A:r+ (%*p6tc@, 
6n= Buc@ A:r+ (ig0#ty, 
th6' CDs tE+ -,. P/#m+ 
M#0%? ,r 2  B/#t6#'.
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 
Cabinet 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’.
“
“
2020-21
Page 4


I t€?s ch‚ptƒr…
In Chapter Two we read about the emergence of the Congress 
system. This 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. The Congress 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 Chapter Two, in order to  
• understand how the political transition took place after Nehru;
• describe how the opposition unity and the Congress split posed a 
challenge to Congress dominance;
• explain how a new Congress led by Indira Gandhi overcame these 
challenges; and
• analyse how new policies and ideologies facilitated the restoration 
of the Congress 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.
Credit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2020-21
Challenge of Political Succession 
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 Canada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
2020-21
84                                                                   P!"#$%&s #' In(i) *#nc+ Ind,p,nd,nc+
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 Congress party consulted party leaders and Congress 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 
Congress 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 Congress 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 Chief 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 Congress 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.
                  …-,. P/#m+ 
M#0%? ,r 2  In(i), #' s5#t+ 
2  6"7 9:r;<o(#ngs, ha= <>,' 
-6me= ?#t@ A:r+ (%*p6tc@, 
6n= Buc@ A:r+ (ig0#ty, 
th6' CDs tE+ -,. P/#m+ 
M#0%? ,r 2  B/#t6#'.
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 
Cabinet 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’.
“
“
2020-21
Ch€l?ng‚  tƒ n„ R‚ t…r†i…‡ ˆ  t‰Š C…ngr‹   SyŒt??                                           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 Congress 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; daughter 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.   
Credit: R. K. Laxman in The Times of India, 18 January 1966
2020-21
Page 5


I t€?s ch‚ptƒr…
In Chapter Two we read about the emergence of the Congress 
system. This 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. The Congress 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 Chapter Two, in order to  
• understand how the political transition took place after Nehru;
• describe how the opposition unity and the Congress split posed a 
challenge to Congress dominance;
• explain how a new Congress led by Indira Gandhi overcame these 
challenges; and
• analyse how new policies and ideologies facilitated the restoration 
of the Congress 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.
Credit: R. K. Laxman in the Times of India
2020-21
Challenge of Political Succession 
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 Canada have 
similar problems, no 
one talks about failure 
or disintegration. Why are 
we under this constant 
suspicion?
5
chapter
challenges to and 
restoration of the 
congress system
2020-21
84                                                                   P!"#$%&s #' In(i) *#nc+ Ind,p,nd,nc+
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 Congress party consulted party leaders and Congress 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 
Congress 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 Congress 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 Chief 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 Congress 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.
                  …-,. P/#m+ 
M#0%? ,r 2  In(i), #' s5#t+ 
2  6"7 9:r;<o(#ngs, ha= <>,' 
-6me= ?#t@ A:r+ (%*p6tc@, 
6n= Buc@ A:r+ (ig0#ty, 
th6' CDs tE+ -,. P/#m+ 
M#0%? ,r 2  B/#t6#'.
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 
Cabinet 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’.
“
“
2020-21
Ch€l?ng‚  tƒ n„ R‚ t…r†i…‡ ˆ  t‰Š C…ngr‹   SyŒt??                                           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 Congress 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; daughter 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.   
Credit: R. K. Laxman in The Times of India, 18 January 1966
2020-21
86                                                                   P!"#$%&s #' In(i) *#nc+ Ind,p,nd,nc+
F-.rt/ G,n,r01 Ele2 i-3s, 1967 
The year 1967 is considered a landmark year in India’s political and 
electoral history. In Chapter Two you read about how the Congress 
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 Chapter 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?
Credit: Raghu Rai
2020-21
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