The third in our series looking at the Lok Sabha polls of the past.
The end of the 1950s had seen much political rumbling. Though the Congress was ahead electorally by a long shot, the election of Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter as Congress president led to the beginning of intense factionalism between the old guard and those who backed Indira Gandhi. India saw the birth of its first openly pro-market party, Swatantra Party, while the Communist Party grew numerically and emerged the single largest opposition group once again. This was a phase when the Congress’s state leaders too consolidated their positions. State elections were held simultaneously except in Kerala and Orissa, where mid-term polls had been held in 1960 and 1961. The DMK emerged a solid block in state elections in Tamil Nadu.
The number of independents dropped steeply, to 20; the socialists too took a knock.
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Parties formed on religious identity, such as the Akali Dal, the Muslim League, the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha and the Ram Rajya Parishad, lost heavily.
C Rajagopalachari led the Swatantra Party of free-market conservatives to a strong showing in its first outing; it secured 7.9% of the vote share, more than the Hindu right.
It was to be Jawaharlal Nehru’s last election from Phulpur, near Allahabad; he won impressively, getting over 33% more votes than the closest opponent.
Also read: Second Lok Sabha Elections