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Image Source: The Hindu

Rajaji frequently interacted with his visitors from different walks of life and news appearing in the press had kept him informed of political developments both at national and international levels. He had also realized that Congress had become the largest monolithic party and Nehru its unquestioned leader. There was no one in Congress to criticize him. Even if there was criticism, Nehru resented and silenced the critics.

Rajaji had always been emphasising the importance and the need for an effective opposition in a democracy. To use his own phrase, a democracy “without a strong opposition is a motor car without a break and is liable to get involved in an accident at any time.”

Probably the most significant contribution which he had made- and which none else could have- to the Indian political life was the founding of the Swatantra Party and thus proving that an alternative to Congress was possible. If there is a fairly stable non-Congress Government functioning in Centre and States, its seeds were sown by Rajaji in 1959.

This is an excerpt from the book Profiles in Courage: Dissent in Indian Socialism, a compilation on the lone voices of liberalism and economic freedom, including those of Rajaji, Minoo Masani , N G Ranga, B R Shenoy, Piloo Mody, Khasa Subba Rau and A D Shroff during the era of socialist command. You can access this book for free on our website.

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The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.