Jana Sangh

The Jana Sangh took its place as the major competitor of the Congress party in the Madhya Bharat region.The Jana Sangh also performed relatively well in Rajasthan in 1957 and 1962.35 Despite the fact that the party’s percentage of the parliamentary vote increased from 3.67 in 1952 to 11.10 in 1957, the Jana Sangh could win no seats there.It did manage to win one parliamentary seat in 1962, though its percentage of the vote declined slightly.The party’s percentage of the assembly vote almost doubled in 1962 and it won 15 seats.After the 1962 elections, the Parishad ceased to be a viable political force in the state.Its role as the major opposition party passed in 1962 to another conservative party, the newly formed Swatantra Party.The leadership of both the Parishad and the Swatantra Party rested on the Rajput aristocracy.Punjab was something of a disappointment to the Jana Sangh.The party won no seats in Punjab’s state assembly or parliamentary constituencies in 1952.37 In the 1957 assembly elections, it won five seats, all urban, and increased its percentage of the vote from 4.01 to 7.47 per cent.While the party’s percentage of the assembly vote increased slightly in 1962, its representation dropped to four, in an 86 member assembly.Emotional policy issues hampered the Jana Sangh’s efforts to expand beyond the Hindu community.But this policy alienated the Sikh voters who wanted Punjabi to be placed on at least an equal status with Hindi.For example, while on tour of Punjab in 1960, Golwalkar appealed to the Hindus in the state to accept Punjabi as their mother tongue.It won two of the 60 assembly seats in 1952 and received 6.12 per cent of the total vote there.Almost doubling its percentage of the vote in 1957, the Jana Sangh picked up two additional assembly seats.In 1962, it further increased its percentage of the assembly vote and won four seats.While the party received greater rural support in Haryana, it was a largely urban party in both parts of undivided Punjab.In 1962 the party won three of the 20 parliamentary seats from Punjab, all three from the Haryana region.The Jana Sangh performed consistently well in Delhi, where it was able to gain the allegiance of a substantial part of the large Hindu refugee population from Pakistan.While it won no parliamentary seats in the first three general elections, the party accumulated between a fifth and a third of the vote in each election.43 It also did well in the Delhi Municipal elections, and, despite the 1954 party revolt, won about a quarter of the vote in both the 1958 and 1962 municipal Corporation elections.The Congress, its only serious political rival in the Union territory, was weakened by factional strife in 1958, enabling the Jana Sangh to win 25 of the 80 corporation seats.Bakshi gave greater representation to the Jammu region in the National Conference.His popularity was in no small part assisted by the massive flow of financial aid from New Delhi, and by the resulting improvement in the state’s standard of living.In both elections, the National Conference polled over twice as many votes as the Parishad in Jammu.46 The Parishad’s support base remained largely caste Hindu, and it was unable to win any appreciable following from Muslim backward castes and from the Scheduled Caste Hindu voters.Moreover, Bihar had a small Hindu refugee population.After Mookerjee’s death, the Jana Sangh was never to attract much support in Bengal.The Jana Sangh contested few assembly seats and accumulated less than 1 per cent of the vote in the 1957 and 1962 assembly elections.The Congress, which took an ambiguous stand on this emotional issue, lost considerable support, and the Jana Sangh won four of the eighteen Maharashtra assembly seats allotted to it by the Samiti.As in Jammu and Kashmir, the Jana Sangh was unable to mobilize any appreciable support outside caste Hindu groups.His daughter, Indira Gandhi, became prime minister in 1966, and found herself under attack from dissident factions on both the left and the right for deviating from her father’s policies.49Jana Sangh leaders believed that the public mood might be shifting in ways they could exploit to strengthen the party’s support base.They were confident that the party’s support of a tough approach towards China and Pakistan would evoke a favourable response.These three favoured a tougher Indian response to the Chinese occupation of the Aksai Chin area of Kashmir.The losing candidate was Deendayal Upadhyaya, who fought his only parliamentary contest from Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh.In 1963 Balraj Madhok, who had served as a Jana Sangh member of parliament from Delhi in 1961–62, even proposed that the Jana Sangh unite with the conservative Swatantra Party to form a new party.While the Swatantra Party may have agreed, General Secretary Upadhyaya did not want the Jana Sangh to become transformed into a party of the right.The Jana Sangh working committee rejected the notion ostensibly because of the ambiguous attitude of the Swatantra towards Indian control of Jammu and Kashmir.He introduced the concept at the January 1965 meeting of the party’s working committee, which adopted Integral Humanism as the Jana Sangh’s official statement of fundamental principles.Capitalism and socialism in his view were flawed because they stimulated greed, class antagonism, exploitation and social anarchy.He argued that each nation creates institutions to satisfy these needs, and that such institutions must be reshaped to sustain group solidarity under changing circumstances.They might even have to be discarded for something new if they undermine the unity of a people.For example, if the caste system divides society, as he argued it did, it should be scrapped and replaced by something else.Indian tradition, he asserted, stresses the social nature of people and obligates them to create institutions designed to enhance social solidarity.On the economic front, he proposed worker control of the means of production and cooperative ownership over larger, more complex industries.In the political arena, he advocated democracy.However, he believed that political democracy is a sham unless accompanied by social and economic democracy, and vice versa.Upadhyaya did not try to describe in any specific detail what an ideal society would look like.In his 1967 presidential address, Upadhyaya defended the call to activism alluded to in his exposition of Integral Humanism.He statedWe should also be cautious about people who see in every popular agitation the hidden hand of communism and [who] suggest that agitation must be crushed.In the changing situation at present, public agitations are natural and even essential.In fact, they are the medium of expression of social awakening.It is of course necessary that these agitations should be made instruments of constructive revolution and not allowed to become violent and adventurist.Therefore, we must actively participate in popular movements and try to guide then.Those who are keen to preserve the status quo in economic and social spheres feel threatened by these movements and are wont to create an atmosphere of pessimism.We are sorry we cannot cooperate with them.We think these sections are trying in vain to halt the wheels of progress and avert the destiny of the country.53Upadhyaya thus legitimized agitation as a technique, and the party’s increasing resort to it was to drive out some prominent conservative elements.To prepare for the 1967 elections, the Jana Sangh’s working committee met at Vijayawada in early 1965 to establish policy guidelines.Sensing the rising nationalist mood triggered by India’s defeat in the 1962 war with China, the leadership concentrated on foreign policy questions.To back up this tough stand, it called for the compulsory military training of all young men and for the development of nuclear weapons.54 Resolutions were passed opposing India’s agreement to withdraw from those parts of Jammu and Kashmir which it had occupied during the 1965 war with Pakistan,55 encouraging the government to support the separatist movements among the Pakhtoons in West Pakistan and the Bengalis in East Pakistan,56 and calling for the establishment of military settlements along the ceasefire line in Jammu and Kashmir.57One year before the 1967 general elections, the Jana Sangh elected Balraj Madhok president, breaking the precedent established in 1955 of figurehead presidents.The general secretary reported in April 1966 that the party membership had increased from about 600,000 in 1956 to 1,300,000 in early 1966, and that it had party units in 268 districts.59Corruption, factionalism and economic hardship had undermined the Congress’s popularity.It was returned to power at the centre in 1967 but with a much reduced majority.Moreover, the Congress failed to win an absolute majority in eight of the state assemblies.The Jana Sangh for its part performed far better than even its leaders expected.The Jana Sangh’s most impressive gains in the 1967 elections were in Bihar and Delhi.The Jana Sangh performance in the parliamentary contests in Bihar was even more impressive.This work may have helped the Jana Sangh.The Jana Sangh won a major triumph in Delhi, winning 52 of the 100 seats in the Delhi Municipal Corporation, 33 of the 56 seats in the Metropolitan Council, and 6 of Delhi’s 7 parliamentary seats, losing only outer Delhi to Brahm Parkash, the leader of the Delhi Congress organization.Regarding Punjab, the Jana Sangh reconciled itself to the division of Punjab into two states.In his presidential address to the 1966 annual session of the party, Madhok called upon the Hindus in Punjab to learn Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script.Despite this announced shift in policy, the Hindus in Punjab voted for the Jana Sangh in even greater numbers than before.Many Hindus blamed the Congress for the division of the state.Its support in Haryana was rather widespread, and it won assembly seats in six of the state’s seven districts.Its parliamentary candidate in Chandigarh, capital of both Punjab and Haryana, campaigning on a platform to keep the city the joint capital of the two states, won with 48.70 per cent of the vote.The Punjab and Haryana units of the party had each resolved that Chandigarh should go to their own state.In Rajasthan, the Jana Sangh formed an alliance with the conservative Swatantra Party, and the two parties won 70 assembly seats, 48 for the Swatantra and 22 for the Jana Sangh.The two parties polled 33.79 per cent of the vote, only about 7 percentage points less than the Congress, which won 89 seats.Two of its 3 parliamentary seats were also in this division.The impressive showing in this area, where it won 11 of the 16 assembly seats and both parliamentary seats, might be attributed in part to the support which the former royal families of Kota and Mewar extended to it during this election.It also contested 2 parliamentary seats from Jammu.The party still received its strongest support from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.In the former, the Jana Sangh increased its vote share by about 5 percentage points for both the assembly and parliamentary contests, winning 98 of the 425 assembly seats, and 12 of the 85 parliamentary seats.It was a participant in United Front governments in Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.Golwalkar himself advised the Jana Sangh leadership against working with communists.65 At the party’s general council meeting at Delhi in April 1967 the leadership was sharply questioned for four hours by the delegates on the issue.66 The delegates eventually voted their approval of United Front governments, but with no great enthusiasm.At the party’s working committee meeting in Vadodara on 15 September, the organizational wing of the party decided that Jana Sangh ministers could remain within the United Front governments.One month later, this decision was upheld by a meeting of the Jana Sangh ministers.The issue which caused the most debate was Jana Sangh participation in ministries which included communists.He wanted the party to adopt policies that would protect property and free enterprise.Cooperating so closely with various socialist and communist parties was, in his opinion, bad policy and bad politics.During this debate, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had been a party secretary at the national level since 1955 and was the leader of the parliamentary wing, emerged as the spokesman of the ‘left’ viewpoint in the party.He favoured continued cooperation with the communists and the parties of the ‘left’.He also proposed that the party make a more vigorous attempt to mobilize the underprivileged and discontented voters.69 Upadhyaya, while distrustful of the communists, tended to support Vajpayee.Upadhyaya’s assumption of the presidency in 1957 signified that the basic organizing phase of the Jana Sangh was completed and that it now intended to become a serious competitor for power on the national level.This reorientation of the party did not go unchallenged, and the party faced its most severe internal crisis since the 1954–55 purges.Madhok fiercely resisted the party’s leftward turn.He adamantly opposed any form of cooperation with the communists and socialists.During the central government employees’ strike in 1968, for example, he advised the party leaders not to support the workers on the grounds that the strike was being orchestrated by the communists.The party leadership was forced to respond to public statements about the strike because the Jana Sangh general council had earlier decided to support the workers’ cause.71 Vajpayee publicly informed the party cadre that the Jana Sangh sympathized with the workers’ demands.72 When Madhok filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court with Minoo Masani, a Swatantra Party member of parliament, in 1969, challenging the nationalization of banks that year, the Jana Sangh working committee cautioned him to consult his colleagues before taking any action that would portray the party as a defender of big business.He was told that the Jana Sangh would, in the future, approach social and economic problems from the ‘common man’s point of view’,73 and the cadre was told that they were to ‘steer clear of the prevalent impression that the Sangh is a party of the Right.’74 The working committee called upon the government to implement more forcefully the law on rural land ceilings.It decided to survey the cadre on their views regarding urban property ceiling.75 None of this pleased Madhok and the conservatives in the party.They were irritated by the party leadership’s intention to portray the party publicly and aggressively as a political representative of the poor and dispossessed.The conservatives were also disturbed by the leadership’s move to tighten party discipline over the local units.Legislators were required to report to the local party organization and to take their instructions from it.They all disintegrated.The Jana Sangh leadership was disappointed with the United Front experience and opted to fight alone in most places.Some senior figures in the Jana Sangh believed that the party could have done better had it worked out electoral agreements.The conservatives, who wanted the Jana Sangh to work more closely with parties of the ‘right’, put pressure on the party leadership to reconsider the Jana Sangh’s alliance strategy.