Chapter 5 - Challenges to the Congress System : Important Questions and Answers

List of Questions and Answers

1.How Presidential Election of 1969 was responsible for the split in the Congress Party ?


  • The factional rivalry between the Syndicate and Indira Gandhi came in the open in 1969.
  • Despite Mrs Gandhi's reservations the "syndicate" managed to nominate her long time opponent and then speaker of the Lok Sabha, N. Sanjeeva Reddy, as the official Congress candidate for the ensuing Presidential elections.
  • Indira Gandhi in response to that encouraged the then Vice-President, V.V. Giri, to file his nomination as an independent candidate.
  • She also announced several big and popular policy measures like the nationalisation of fourteen leading private banks and the abolition of the ‘privy purse’ or the special privileges given to former princes. Morarji Desai was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.This decisions led to differences between Desai and the Prime Minister resulting in Desai leaving the government.
  • S. Nijalingappa issued a "whip" asking all the Congress MPs and MLAs to vote in favour of Sanjeeva Reddy, the official candidate of the party.
  • The Prime Minister supported V.V. Giri and openly called for a "conscience vote" which meant that the MPs and MLAs from the Congress should be free to vote the way they want.
  • The election ultimately resulted in the victory of V.V. Giri, the independent candidate, and the defeat of Sanjeeva Reddy, the official Congress candidate.
  • The defeat of the official Congress candidate formalised the split in the party.

2.Examine the challenge of political succession after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru.


  • After Jawaharlal Nehru's death in 1960 there were doubts about whether India’s democratic experiment will survive or not.
  • The 1960s was labelled as the "dangerous decade" when 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.
  • When Nehru passed away, K. Kamraj, the president of the Congress party consulted party leaders and Congress members of Parliament and found a leader in 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 passed away on 10 January 1966, and again the challenge of political succession occurred.This time there was intense competition between Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi.
  • Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, had been Congress President in the past and had also been Union Minister for Information in the Shastri cabinet.
  • 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.