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Posted at: Nov 6, 2016, 2:15 AM; last updated: Nov 6, 2016, 10:35 AM (IST)PUNJAB ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS — 1957

When Punjab & PEPSU merged

As the state went for its second polls in 1957, both its politics and its leaders became acrimonious. The Pratap Singh Kairon faction emerged as the clear winner

Chandigarh, Nov. 6. 2016

The 1957 elections were held soon after the merger of Patiala & East Punjab States Union with Punjab, which led to an increase in the number of Assembly constituencies, and thus seats — from 105 constituencies with 126 seats in 1952 to 121 constituencies with 154 seats (33 constituencies were two-member each). By this time, infighting in the Congress had resulted in Bhim Sen Sachar being replaced by Partap Singh Kairon as Chief Minister. 

The issue of status of the Punjabi language dominated politics at the time. After much discussion between representatives of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress, a compromise was reached and the 1956 Regional Formula arrived at. It delineated the Hindi and Punjabi-dominated areas and made the provision for teaching of Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script. 

Click here for a larger view of The Tribune Page 1 published on February 11, 1957

The Akali Dal subsequently merged with the Congress. However, this was a union not destined to be smooth. Within the Congress, there was scepticism over this. The Tribune correspondent in Amritsar reported: “Congress circles are greatly worried over this half-hearted Akali support and are still doubtful if this Akali-Congress alliance will prove beneficial to the state Congress in the long run, as the opposition parties, particularly Jan Sangh and Communists, are fully exploiting this rift.”

Part 1 Election series:  Punjab Assembly Elections 1951-52

Part 2 Read more:

When Punjab & PEPSU merged

Akalis To Honour Pact In General

The Punjab Cabinet

8 Triangular Contests In Punjab

Polling In Punjab Concludes

For Safety Of India's Freedom Vote For Congress

Congress Wins First 8 Seats In Punjab

Kairon Elected Congress Party Leader

Akali Dal never gave up politics

Jan Sangh & P.S.P. Criticise Nehru Govt.’s “Blunders”

Prominent Players

While the Gian Singh Rarewala-led group of the Akali Dal had merged with the Congress, Master Tara Singh kept some options open even as he declared “that he stood by his word to support all Congress candidates, except about eight or 10 against whom he had furnished documentary proof of corruption and doubtful integrity.”

Both Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri campaigned. Shastri asked Master Tara Singh, on behalf of the AICC not to oppose Congress candidates on “frivolous charges of corruption”. He maintained that the Congress had been generous in accommodating Akali candidates. He accused Master Tara Singh of jeopardising Hindu-Sikh unity by violating the Congress-Akali agreement. 

The acrimonious exchanges continued but Shiromani Akali Dal was out of the fray in this particular election. The Congress returned with a huge majority — 120 seats out of a total of 154. Partap Singh Kairon formed a new Cabinet and among the ministers were two erstwhile Akali leaders — Gian Singh Rarewala and Giani Kartar Singh. 


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