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Posted at: Nov 13, 2016, 1:51 AM; last updated: Nov 13, 2016, 12:55 PM (IST)PUNJAB ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS — 1962

Kairon retains his hold on Punjab

The Akali Dal emerged as an independent entity this time, contesting on the issue of formation of a Punjabi Suba. While the Congress was still successful but the seeds of its decline had been sown
Kairon retains his  hold on Punjab
From The Tribune archives

Chandigarh, November 13. 2016

By the time of the1962 Assembly battle, the electoral chess board had been redone. The Akali Dal, which had subsumed itself under the Indian National Congress during the 1957 polls, was now a contestant and was fighting on the plank of a Punjabi Suba, contesting 47 seats. Nehru, predictably, led the Congress charge.  During his campaign speeches made during these elections in January 1962 while a three-day visit to the state, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru reiterated his vision of "building a new India of our dreams, both economically and socially." Like in the previous elections, the Congress had fielded candidates in each of the 154 Assembly seats. The number of candidates put up by the Communist Party decreased from 67 to 47, but for the Jan Sangh, the candidates increased from 62 to 80.  The Republicans fielded 26 and the Praja-Socialist Party 10. 

Click here for a larger view of The Tribune Page 1 published on February 27, 1962

Speaking at Basic Training College, Chandigarh, Congress leader and Planning Commission member Shriman Narain sounded prophetic when he said: "if we fail to link our educational programme with developmental schemes in different sectors of national economy, we shall be sowing the seeds of friction and even disaster in our social and economic life."

Developmental high notes aside, Punjabi language and Punjabi Suba dominated the loudspeakers at the state level. In order to assuage those who blamed his government for not implementing the 'Regional Formula', Jawaharlal Nehru appointed a Commission of inquiry headed by S R Das, a former Chief Justice, to ascertain if there was any injustice in the delay in implementing the formula. In his election speeches, we find him defending the Commission he had set up. As for the Akalis, two leaders — Sant Fateh Singh and Master Tara Singh — continued to push for the Punjabi Suba movement. Many SAD workers courted arrest and these leaders undertook "fast-unto-death" but broke the fast after they got some assurances. This eventually cost them and the movement its sheen. 

Part I Election series:  Punjab Assembly Elections 1951-52

Part II Election series: Punjab Assembly Elections — 1957

Part III Read More: Punjab Assembly Elections — 1962

Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon was still in the saddle, but somewhat uneasy. He had not been able to sort out the Punjabi Suba movement. His confrontational attitude during the Punjabi Suba agitations had caused much heartburn, and he faced dissent from fellow Congressmen. His personal popularity was reflected in that he won his seat with a dubiously low margin of 34 votes. He did form his Cabinet, but Prabodh Chandra, a dissident, became Speaker. Moreover, a tussle erupted between him and his erstwhile ally, Darbara Singh, president of the state party unit. 

The Akali Dal's debut in this poll was impressive. It became the largest Opposition party with 19 seats. Other parties did not even touch the double-digit mark. With 90 seats in the bag, it was advantage Congress all the way.


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