CHALLENGE TO CONGRESS DOMINANCE: FROM 1967 to 1977
In 1967 elections, the Congress party’s performance dipped ever further. The steady decline that the party saw over the past three elections continued to haunt them and this time it challenged the party’s supremacy in the state. The Congress could only win 199 seats in the state assembly elections and for the first time their seat share from Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha dropped below 50. The Congress won 48 seats from Uttar Pradesh. There were many reasons behind this bad performance. To begin with, the death of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri, two of the biggest Congress figures of that time had a major part to play in their decline. Moreover, both of them belonged to Uttar Pradesh and with them gone, the party had an internal crisis with both Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi wanting to become the Prime Minister. The other causes for Congress’ poor performance in 1967 included the failure of the monsoons in 1965 and 1966 and the subsequent hardship throughout northern and eastern India. It was also due to the currency devaluation in 1966 which was quite unpopular.
In the state, Congress was able to gain a bare majority in the State Assembly but Charan Singh who was one of the most popular leaders of the state decided to leave the Congress with his supporters. He formed another party called the Bhartiya Kranti Dal in 1967. In 1967, Charan Singh became the Chief Minister of the state through the help of the opposition parties. However, Charan Singh became the successor to C. B. Gupta who was the Chief Minister for a brief one-month period. Charan Singh, an open critic of Jawahar Lal Nehru’s Soviet Union like policies with the help of Raj Narain and Ram Manohar Lohia, became the Chief Minister. His tenure only lasted for less than a year before presidential rule was applied to the state. After president’s rule, C. B. Gupta again became the Chief Minister of the state as Congress won 211 seats in the the 1969 elections. Charan Singh whose party had won 98 seats in the 1969 elections formed another coalition government with the help of the opposition parties in 1970 and ended C. B. Gupta’s third and final tenure as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
This was also the time when the electorate in Uttar Pradesh was also growing rapidly. A lot of new voters emerged during this time. These new voters had only seen the last few years of India’s independence struggle. They were less grateful to the INC for its part in the independence struggle as compared to those who voted for INC on those lines.
Various social and economic issues produced several political movements in the state and these political movements resulted in the formation of several factions across the electorate of the state as well. New political interests led to the formation of new political parties who found support from various factions of the voters. There was constant in-fighting among the party members. These...