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The Swatantra Party (swatantra meaning 'free' or 'independent' in Sanskrit) was a political party in Indiamarker founded by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari and N. G. Ranga in August, 1959. The party opposed the Nehruvian socialist outlook of the Congress Party by advocating free enterprise, opposing the so-called licence-permit Raj, and ending India's economic autarky by courting Western investment. In 1960 Rajaji and other Swatantra leaders wrote about why Swatantra Party had to be formed despite having worked closely with Nehru to obtain independence for India:

The 21 principles of the Swatantra Party manifesto were on broadly classical liberal lines .

Swatantra Party did not fare badly in the first general elections after its formation. It received 6.8% of the total votes and 18 seats in the third Lok Sabha (1962-67). It emerged as the main opposition in four states - Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Orissa. It became a significant force in some regions of India and became the single largest opposition party in the mid-1960s in Parliament with 8.7% of the total votes and 44 seats in the Fourth Lok Sabha (1967-71). In 1971, it secured only 8 seats in the Lok Sabha with 3% of the votes. After Rajaji's death in 1972, it declined rapidly. It was also associated in the public mind with wealthy industrialists and former maharajas. The Swatantra experiment of liberalism ended in 1974 by merging with Bharatiya Kranti Dal led by Charan Singh an omnibus of left-wing, right-wing, and Hindu nationalist opponents of Congress Party rule.

See also


  1. The 21 Principles of the Swatantra Party (1959)
  2. Chandra, Bipan & others (2000). India after Independence 1947-2000, New Delhi:Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-027825-7, p.214


  • H.R.Pasricha. The Swatantra Party—Victory in Defeat. The Rajaji Foundation. 2002.
  • Howard L. Erdman. India’s Swatantra Party. Public Affairs Vol 36, Issue 4, Winter 1963-1964, pp. 394-410.

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