When Indira Gandhi Could Have Eliminated Defections: Case of First Defection in Madhya Pradesh

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The first defection took place in 1967. Through defection elected governments of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh were overthrown.  After the general elections, Congress came back to power in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress fought 1967 Vidhan Sabha election under the leadership of Pt. D. P. Mishra, who was regarded as an Ironman of the state. After the election, he again became chief minister. Before the elections, he earned the animosity of Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia. At that time Rajmata was in the Congress. Here’s a historical analysis, for Different Truths. 

Defection is the cancer of politics. It is the brutal of our system of parliamentary democracy.

The first defection took place in 1967. Through defection elected governments of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh were overthrown.  After the general elections, Congress came back to power in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress fought 1967 Vidhan Sabha election under the leadership of Pt. D. P. Mishra, who was regarded as an Ironman of the state. After the election, he again became chief minister. Before the elections, he earned the animosity of Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia. At that time Rajmata was in the Congress. Prior to elections, she met Mishra, who asked the purpose of her meeting. She said that she had come to discuss the names of Congress candidates who will contest from various Assembly constituencies from her Raj (kingdom). Which Raj? DP Mishra asked. Her reply was Gwalior Raj. Mishra said it has ceased to exist after India’s independence. “Leave that matter to Congress and me. If you want you can tell me the name of the constituency from which you will like to contest.”

Mishra’s behaviour, Rajmata felt was nothing but humiliating. She left the Congress and set up her candidates in all the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha constituencies which were part of former Scindia kingdom. In a bitterly fought election, almost all the Congress candidates from Gwalior region lost. Despite the defeat of Congress in Gwalior region, the Congress came back to power and Mishra became Chief Minister. Rajmata did not accept her defeat and decided to avenge her humiliation. She with the cooperation of the Jana Sangh managed to win over 36 elected Congress legislators. These 36 elected Congress defectors made Govind Narayan Singh their leader. Mishra refused to even to talk to these defectors. Meanwhile, he came out with the suggestion that he should be allowed to seek the dissolution of the Vidhan Sabha. That is the only way in which defectors should be penalised and should not be allowed to enjoy fruits of power by deserting the party on whose symbol and manifesto they were elected.

He said defection means betrayal of the voters who elected them because they were Congress candidates. Congress Working held an emergency meeting to consider Mishra’s suggestion. The meeting authorised Mishra to advise the Governor to recommend the dissolution of the Vidhan Sabha. After getting this authority Mishra left for Bhopal. But after his departure, the working continued its meeting. The finally decided to tell the Governor that in case Mishra recommends the dissolution he should not accept his advice. And thus the defectors were given to their actions. Untimely the 36 Congress MLAs left the party and voted against the Congress government.

The Mishra government was replaced by the government headed by Govind Narayan Singh and supported by Jana Sangh and Rajamata. The 36 defectors were taken to and were housed in a hotel. Nobody was allowed to meet the defector MLAs. There were allegations that defecting MLAs were bribed and were promised ministerial berths. The climate of the state underwent radical change. Congress was replaced by Samyukta Vidhaya Dal (SVD). Though Rajmata was elected leader of the SVD she decided to hand over Chief Ministerial Gaddy to Govind Narayan Singh who came from the family of freedom fighters. His Kaptan Avdesh Pratap Singh was the Chief Minister of class C state of Vindhya Pradesh.

SVD government could hardly complete two years. All the defectors came back to the Congress. After Congress came back to power Mishra should have become the Chief Minister. But destiny took such a turn that he could not occupy the ministry. He could not do so because his election to the Vidhan Sabha in the year 1963 was declared null and void. Because of this S. C. Shukla was installed as Chief Minister. The SVD period was marked by corruption, maladministration and almost total anarchy and opportunism. S. C. Shukla was also not allowed to function as the Chief Minister. His government was described as “Ali and Chalis Chor”.

If Indira , who was the , would have authorised D P Mishra to seek the dissolution of the Vidhan Sabha disease of defection would have been totally eradicated from the body politics of our country. Thus if you desert the party on whose ticket you reached assembly you will not be allowed to enjoy the fruits of power by defection.

In fact, Mishra suggestion should have been incorporated in the Constitution and also in the People’s Representatives Act.

L.S. Herdenia
©IPA Service 

Photo from the Internet

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