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Unofficial talks took place in March and April 1969 between leaders of the Jana Sangh, the Bharatiya Kranti Dal, the Swatantra Party, and the Praja Socialist party, at a meeting convened by Prakash Vir Shastri, a member of parliament from Uttar Pradesh.In those talks, Vajpayee, who had become party president following Upadhyaya’s death in early 1968, insisted that any merger or electoral alliance must be preceded by a commonly accepted set of principles.78 The mysterious circumstances surrounding Upadhyaya’s death on 11 February 1968 led many Jana Sanghis to conclude that he had been murdered.Vajpayee had already become the party’s parliamentary leader and its most articulate orator and public spokesman.Following Upadhyaya’s death, he had considerable freedom to formulate policy and, as the opposition parties manoeuvred for alliance partners in the late 1960s, Vajpayee’s preference was to avoid a relationship unless there had been a prior agreement on principles.After the Jana Sangh’s 1969 annual session at Bombay, the leaders of the Jana Sangh, Swatantra Party, and Bharatiya Kranti Dal resumed their talks.Because the Jana Sangh representatives ruled out the option of merger, and because they continued to insist on a consensus regarding principles, the Swatantra Party and the Bharatiya Kranti Dal leaders decided to continue their talks without the Jana Sangh.79 While Vajpayee and most of the working committee members were moving away from participation in any ‘grand alliances’, Madhok and his supporters argued for a merger with other conservative parties.Political polarization was, in their view, the wave of the future.The Jana Sangh, being neither ‘fish nor fowl’, would became isolated from the voters unless it committed itself to one or the other of the developing ideological configurations.Madhok was infuriated by the leadership’s refusal to heed his advice.In public speeches, he insinuated that the leftward tilt was due to some kind of collusion between the leadership and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.He compared his differences inside the Jana Sangh to the disagreements between Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel.The Jana Sangh parliamentary board met in Delhi in September 1969 and censured Madhok for his remarks.80Despite pressure from the right, Vajpayee was reluctant to change the ground rules for negotiations on political alliances.On 3 January party leaders announced that they were considering a national electoral alliance.The state units of the four parties were instructed to set up committees to allocate the seats among candidates of the four parties.This approach was opposed by a conservative section led by Balraj Madhok.The results of the 1971 parliamentary election seemed to add substance to the fears of the cadre, though the Jana Sangh did make some scattered gains.In Bihar, it continued to do well and won one additional parliamentary seat.Maharajkumar Brij Raj Singh and Raja Homendra Singh, members of the Kota and Udaipur princely families respectively, won 2 of the party’s 4 seats in Udaipur division.The party also did quite well in Rajasthan’s city elections which were held several months before the general elections.It ran 803 candidates in 103 towns where it won 252 seats, not counting the 33 independents backed by the Jana Sangh.It won a majority of the seats in 12 towns and emerged as the largest single party in Jaipur, the state’s capital city.83Everywhere else, the results were a disappointment.The Jana Sangh lost its seats in Punjab and Chandigarh, and barely managed to retain one seat in Haryana.With 22 seats in the parliament, the Jana Sangh still remained one of the larger opposition parties.When the general council of the Jana Sangh met at Jaipur, the leadership came in for severe criticism from the party cadre.Many delegates blamed the losses on the party’s unreliable coalition partners and on the rightist tarring it received from its association with the ‘grand alliance’.They demanded that the party stay out of future national electoral alliances, and proposed that the party contest the 1972 state assembly elections on its own.The party leadership was forced to reverse its alliance policy in the face of mass discontent from the cadre.85Such open friction between the leadership and the cadre was rare, because the Jana Sangh leadership usually solicited the opinion of the cadre at the local level before reaching a final decision.The local units met at least once a month and were required to discuss issues brought to them by a higher unit.In the case of an electoral alliance to fight the 1971 elections, the Jana Sangh leadership did not have much time to canvass the local units, and it made a decision that the cadre strongly opposed.In the face of the criticism, Vajpayee concurred with the majority opinion that the party must more effectively portray itself as committed to social and economic justice.86The Jana Sangh’s performance in the 1972 state assembly elections was also disappointing.For the first time, the party did not improve upon its performance in previous elections.Prime Minister Gandhi’s Congress party strengthened its position in the sixteen states and two Union territories in which assembly elections were held.In Punjab, without the support from the Akali Dal, the Jana Sangh lost every assembly seat.It also drew a blank in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and West Bengal.Its representation dropped from 12 to 2 in Haryana, 33 to 5 in Delhi Metropolitan Council, and 22 to 8 in the Rajasthan assembly.The Congress had reached an agreement with the former ruler of Kota, and it won all 16 seats in Kota division, a region which had given the Jana Sangh 11 seats in 1967.87 However, the Jana Sangh was only 1 seat down in the Bihar assembly.The leadership called the general council together to discuss the elections, and the delegates’ criticism of the leadership matched that of the Jaipur meeting the previous year.Their criticism centred on the party’s conservative image and its weak support base among the poor.Many delegates charged that the leadership had done little to dispel the popular conception of the Jana Sangh as a party of the rich.To cite a specific example, they blamed the leadership for not formulating a clear land ceiling policy.They passed a resolution proposing that rural land holdings should not exceed a size which could provide a Rs 1500 per month income for a family of five.They also passed a resolution limiting a family’s expendable income to Rs 2000 per month, with the excess income invested to generate greater production and higher employment.To mobilize additional support, they decided to establish front organizations among youth, women and the Scheduled Castes.They also decided to step up efforts among Sikhs and Muslims.90The party leadership did not take much convincing to make the Jana Sangh a party ‘of the common man’.In line with Upadhyaya’s earlier justification of agitation as a tactic, Vajpayee informed the delegates that ‘we extend Jana Sangh’s activities beyond the confines of parliamentary politics.It is essential that our approach should not be merely reformist.At that session, Lal Krishna Advani, former Jana Sangh speaker in the Delhi Metropolitan Council, was selected to replace Vajpayee, who was placed in charge of the campaign for the important 1974 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.92 Advani’s presidential address to the delegates focused on the nation’s economy.He advocated an income policy which would permit the highest salaries to be no more than 20 times the lowest.93 Resolutions were passed directing the party leadership to speak out publicly for the dispossessed and to organize mass demonstrations on their behalf.Conferences of women, farmers, and youth met concurrently with the eighteenth annual session.The women’s conference proposed that men and women receive equal pay for comparable work and that nurseries be established for the children of working mothers.In a speech in Bombay on 23 April 1973 Vajpayee told his audience that the party would not hesitate to encourage people to break those laws which, in its view, tended to keep basic commodities scarce.Following the working committee’s deliberations at Kanpur in February 1972, Madhok left for Delhi without participating in the plenary session of the party.Regarding party rules, he advocated changes which would give more power to the lower units of the party hierarchy.Besides proposing the abolition of the position of organizing secretary, Madhok suggested that the delegates to the plenary session themselves elect half of the party’s working committee and that they nominate presidential candidates.Under Jana Sangh rules, the president selected the working committee, and the state working committees nominated presidential candidates.In a letter to Madhok, Advani detailed Madhok’s ‘indiscipline’.He pointed out that Madhok had opposed the Central government employees’ strike even when the party had officially backed the workers’ demands.He reminded Madhok of his circulation of a pamphlet at the 1969 Patna plenary session which criticized the party’s policies.He pointed out that Madhok had bestowed respectability on groups of expelled Jana Sangh members in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh by addressing their meetings.To demonstrate how isolated he was from the other party leaders, Advani reminded Madhok that the general council was unanimous in its opposition to his activities.Not only did Advani question Madhok’s ‘character’, but he refused to submit Madhok’s case to Golwalkar, as Madhok had earlier suggested.He informed Madhok that Golwalkar ‘would also emphasize the importance of discipline and collective functioning in any organization’.On a matter as important as this, Advani very likely had already conferred with Golwalkar before writing to Madhok.Madhok refused to apologize for his ‘indiscipline’ and asked for the ‘trust’ and ‘confidence’ of his colleagues.Advani expelled him from primary membership in the party for three years.He identified Vajpayee as the leader of the forces which were subverting the party’s traditional ideological orientation.In early November 1973 the Jana Sangh leadership called upon its members to agitate against mounting inflation.In March 1975 the four opposition parties participating in the National Coordination Committee formed the Janata Morcha to contest the June state assembly elections in Gujarat.The Jana Sangh itself won 18 of the 40 seats it contested.The revolts against the Jana Sangh leadership between 1972 and 1974 could not elicit much support from the organizational cadre.The party organization gave its organizing secretaries sufficient power to enforce compliance with party directives.For them to break loose from the party would mean separating themselves from comrades with whom they had worked for many years.The organizing secretaries, many without families or other social or economic commitments, orchestrated the party’s more populist orientation, as Madhok and other dissident conservatives recognized.By and large, pracharaks appeared to take seriously the social and economic implications of reformist advaita vedanta.The organizers, in turn, also had to translate the belief system into strategies and policies capable of mobilizing support.Consequently, the advancement of those swayamsevaks who have demonstrated leadership capacity is conducive to maintaining support for the goals of the party.At all levels of the party, the cadre commented that they were content to remain mere ‘soldiers’ in the cause, satisfied to serve in whatever capacity party leaders deemed them best suited.Whatever the accuracy of such statements, the data reveals that the cadre tended to hold their positions for rather long periods of time.Over half of the sample held only one position in the party.Almost 60 per cent held their current position for at least four years,108 and slightly more than 40 per cent for at least six years.Given the extended time the Jana Sangh members remained in their positions and interacted with a common peer group, it was likely that the cadre in an organization unit had a high degree of loyalty to each other.Selective recruitment of the cadre promoted organizational cohesion, but it also placed limits on the party’s mobilizing capacity.Income variations should be narrowed.Cow slaughter must be prohibited.Class identification weakens nationalloyalty.The state has responsibility for maintaining minimum living standards.Workers should share in ownership and management of industry.Strike is a legitimate technique for workers to employ.Foreign aid and assistance would help India to overcome its economic problems.The powers of the Central government should be strengthened.Caste loyalty should disappear.The major industries should be nationalized.The government should take control of all educational and social welfare activities.A democratic form of government cannot generate the strong leadership required for national progress.Agriculture should be organized on cooperative basis.English should be retained as a link language.Since creation of Pakistan, Muslims have been loyal to India.The former assumes a certain measure of class consciousness, and the latter goes against the corporatist nature of the belief system.Strike was considered one of the more effective forms of protest against entrenched interest and an unresponsive government.Cooperative agriculture was opposed on the grounds that it would provide bureaucrats and politicians more opportunities to exploit the farmer.Rather, it had advocated stricter enforcement of land ceiling legislation and the distribution of land to the actual tiller of the soil.On the one hand, there is support for a unitary state strong enough to defend the country from external foes and from internal challenges.Nonetheless, the Jana Sangh cadre did not oppose government interference in the economy or society generally.Two considerations might explain the favourable response to the issue.One is the fear that centrifugal forces are a real threat to the unity of India and that Central government must have more police power to deal with the growing politicization of regional and linguistic demands and sectarian loyalties.The cadre in this sample, on the whole, supported substantial changes in India’s social and economic systems.While they backed proposals that would result in a wider dispersal of economic and political power, they did not, in principle, support a more restricted role for the government in the country’s development.The affiliates are responsible for applying the broad ideological principles to their own specific areas of interest, and they have considerable freedom of manoeuvre on this matter.They used political campaigns to mobilize electoral support.Starting in the 1970s, the party began to employ agitation on a wide scale to tap the discontent against inadequate government performance.These challenges buttressed the position of activist leaders who wanted to make their organizations more relevant to the practical problems faced by the people, and who were more willing to employ confrontational tactics to do so.Direct involvement in politics would also again make it a likely target of political attack.The need for political protection again become salient.The most dramatic example of such militancy was the increasing politicization of the Vidyarthi Parishad, which became involved in movements directed against the Congress party governments of Bihar and Gujarat during this period.In Bihar, the Vidyarthi Parishad participated in a statewide protest that accepted the Total Revolution concept of Jaya Prakash Narayan, a respected social reformer.Narayan advocated the replacement of a political system dominated by professional politicians with a form of participatory democracy.He initially directed his criticism at the Bihar state government, but in late 1974 concluded that no fundamental changes could take place unless the Total Revolution was broadened to include the centre on the grounds that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi controlled the policies of the state governments dominated by her Congress party.On 25 and 26 November 1974, Jana Sangh leaders met in Delhi with their counterparts from other opposition parties to establish a national coordination committee that would back Narayan’s movement of Total Revolution.Several opposition parties, including the Jana Sangh, formed the Janata Morcha, an electoral alliance, which won a majority in the June assembly elections there.On 5 June, the Allahabad High Court declared Prime Minister Gandhi’s 1971 election to parliament invalid due to violations of the election law.The opposition immediately called for her resignation.On the evening of 25 June, Narayan gave a speech in New Delhi appealing to the military not to obey an ‘illegal order’.The next morning, Prime Minister Gandhi declared a state of Emergency, ordered the arrest of political opponents and imposed a censorship on the press.In November 1976 the Friends of India Society, International, was formed in England to mobilize overseas swayamsevaks for the same purpose.Whatever the extent of the cadre’s role, no one doubts that it was significant.They are now functioning in an organized underground manner.The Janata Party, in contrast, swept this area and won 298 out of 542 seats nationally.The Janata Party from the start was a fragile coalition.Party leaders battled against each other to improve their own standing and that of their group.For example, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, its labour affiliate, claimed that it had grown from about 1.2 million members in 1977 to about 1.8 million in 1980, making it the second largest national union after the Indian National Trade Union Congress.30 The Vidyarthi Parishad, its student affiliate, grew from 170,000 to 250,000 members between 1977 and 1982,31 further strengthening the Vidyarthi Parishad’s position as the largest student group in India.But this apparent success had its costs.Indeed, it became an even more strident and divisive problem.The persistence of the issue underscored the fragile nature of the Janata Party, more a governing coalition than a party.It was used both to gain leverage against the Jana Sangh group and to damage the Jana Sangh group’s capacity to mobilize additional support within the party.The issue reflected the fear that the relatively cohesive Jana Sangh group would use its organizational strength to take over the party.This fear was a major reason the Janata Party was never able to hold organizational elections, forcing the party to function on an ad hoc basis at all levels.This development at the national level in turn exacerbated the relations of the two groups at the state level.As part of their strategy, the Jana Sangh and the socialist groups unsuccessfully requested Desai to step down in favour of Jagjivan Ram, a respected Scheduled Caste politician who might have brought support from other parties.By this move, the Jana Sangh group could also erode the popular image of itself as a representative of the interests of traders and brahmins.Symbolism was very important.They had a good case.Many in the activist school were also prepared to pull away from politics since their own high expectations regarding cooperation with the new government had been dashed.The Jana Sangh group acted as a unit,50 and this capability enhanced its potential to assert power because the other groups were not nearly so united.But proposals to hold organizational elections were continually shelved because the various partners, with the prominent exception of the Jana Sangh group, feared that their relative standing would suffer.There was historical precedent.A Jana Sangh bid to take over the Janata Party, however, would have been much more difficult than the earlier bid to take over the young Jana Sangh.

Last edited by William Jones