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The most thrilling Presidential Election

The crucial meeting of Congress concluded at Bangalore in the year 1969. Indira Gandhi the then Prime Minister was cornered by the largest contingent of old guards in the party. Seething with anger Indira Gandhi came out and declared that she cannot assure that she would vote for her party’s candidate Neelam Sanjeev Reddy for Presidential post. Conscience vote became a buzzword for quite a few Congress leaders though Congress bigwigs cautioned anybody going against party’s nominee. S Nijalingappa, Morarji Desai, Atulya Ghosh and K Kamraj tried to stem rebellion.

There were three major contestants in the fray. All were stalwarts in their own right. It became evident as days passed by that Indira Gandhi’s choice as V V Giri the then Vice President. Soon the entire left bloc which had considerable strength in Bengal and Kerala and to some extent in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu put their weight behind Giri.

The counting continued till midnight. As in the first preference votes nobody secured majority. This was the first time in history that necessity of counting second preference votes arose which began at 10 pm. Everybody kept their radio on and waited to get final results with bated breath. Just past after midnight the final result was declared. V V Giri, independent candidate defeated albeit with a narrow margin, Neelam Sanjeev Reddy the candidate of Congress Party. Indira Gandhi was the first person to visit Giri’s residence for congratulating him. This election was a milestone in the history of India. The Congress expelled Indira Gandhi from the party for gross anti party activities. This one election changed the course of political process.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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