Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Posted at: Oct 30, 2016, 1:08 AM; last updated: Oct 30, 2016, 11:46 AM (IST)PUNJAB ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS — 1951-1952

Revisiting past elections...

Starting with the state’s first Assembly elections, we will share with our readers glimpses of previous polls. Representative news reports and an editorial are being reproduced here from The Tribune archives

Chandigarh, Oct. 30, 2016

Free India was governed by Indian leaders elected before Independence. Indian citizens exercised their franchise for the first time in Independent India in 1951-1952. At that time, Punjab had been bifurcated but it also now included an entity called Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) comprising former princely states of Patiala, Nabha, Kapurthala, Jind, Faridkot, Materkotla, Nalagarh and Kalsia. Before the next elections, it would be merged into Punjab (in 1956).  

The electoral process got going in the latter half of 1951 and by November 6, The Tribune could declare that nomination papers had been filed for 144 seats in Punjab. The number of candidates ran into thousands, which was a baffling situation for both the parties and the voters. 

Click here for full image of First Stage in Punjab Elections

The electoral battle was waged by some redoubtable yodhas. Dr Gopichand Bhargava, who had the distinction of being the first Chief Minister of Punjab, was engaged in a tussle with fellow Congressman Bhim Sen Sachar. Partap Singh Kairon was an important leader. 

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the most popular mass leader in the country, toured the state, addressing six rallies during his two-and-a-half day visit. "The main theme of the speeches by the Congress President was a complete and unsparing criticism of the communal organisations," The Tribune reports. He also criticised Bhargava. On the other hand, Socialist leader Jaya Prakash Narayan (JP) called the Nehru regime a "complete failure" while addressing a rally in Jalandhar. 

Read more stories related to Punjab Assembly Elections — 1951-1952

As we look at the pages of The Tribune, we come across many riveting news items, Lala Jagat Narain declaring "Corruption and nepotism to go,"; Vijay Lakshmi Pandit decrying "False Cry of 'Panth' in Danger" and asking Sikhs to vote for Congress; Sardar Hukam Singh asserting that "the Akali Dal does not want any special treatment by way of concessions, weightage or reservation of seats. All that it demands is equal right of citizenship for the Sikhs, protection of Punjabi as the mother tongue of the State"; Nehru arguing that the Akali Dal had "polluted Punjab politics; and Jathedar Udham Singh Nagoke, President of the SGPC, warning "all Gurdwara employees against their participation in party politics." Political meetings within the premises of Gurdwaras were banned. Most of the pictures show various candidates and leaders, but there are striking photographs of voters exercising their franchise. 

An editorial after the polls says: "The leaders who have been returned have stood against communalism and corruption and against groupings and factions." We present here that and news items that give a flavour of those times. 

The Internet Edition will have more. The sound and fury of the present electoral race finds its echoes in the past, so many issues are similar: political machinations development, corruption, nepotism, voter's quest for tangible benefits to their lives....we will see many a reflection of the present as we explore the past.


All readers are invited to post comments responsibly. Any messages with foul language or inciting hatred will be deleted. Comments with all capital letters will also be deleted. Readers are encouraged to flag the comments they feel are inappropriate.
The views expressed in the Comments section are of the individuals writing the post. The Tribune does not endorse or support the views in these posts in any manner.
Share On