fifty years ago August 21, 1969 Archives

From the Archives (August 21, 1969): Giri elected new President of India

The independent candidate, Mr. V. V. Giri, who became the non-official Congress nominee of the Prime Minister in the wake of her current power struggle with the Syndicate, was to-day [August 20] declared elected the fourth President of India, defeating his official Congress rival, Mr. N. Sanjiva Reddi, in the most bitterly contested election since Independence, which might well alter the course of history in this country. Though Mr. Giri had a clear lead of 35,551 votes – having secured a total of 401,515 against the 313,548 polled by Mr. Sanjiva Reddi and 112,769 by C.D. Deshmukh – he fell short of 16,659 votes for an absolute majority in the first count under the system of proportional representation prescribed for the Presidential election. But Mr. Giri managed to meet this requirement in the second count which gave him a margin of 14,650 votes over his nearest rival, Mr. Sanjiva Reddi. The President-elect got in the second count 420,077 votes as against 405,427 secured by the official Congress candidate. Mr. S. L. Shakdher, Returning Officer, announced at 10-33 p.m., “I declare Mr. V. V. Giri duly elected President.” An analysis of the voting patterns both at the Centre and in the States clearly established that there had been large-scale defections from the Congress side in favour of Mr. Giri following the Prime Minister’s fateful decision to openly campaign against the party’s official candidate. While Mr. Sanjiva Reddi received solid backing from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Mysore – the home States of Mr. Chavan, Mr. Morarji Desai and Mr. Nijalingappa – and he did equally well in Assam and Rajasthan, Mr. Giri got good support from the Congress-ruled States of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as well as the non-Congress States of Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala. The Syndicate suffered the biggest debacle in U.P. which was considered by Mr. Sanjiva Reddi’s supporters as a safe haven. Mrs. Gandhi carried the war into this citadel of the old guard to fight Mr. C. B. Gupta on his home ground with the help of his Deputy Chief Minister and old-time rival, Mr. Kamalapathi Tripathi, and tilt the scales heavily against the official Congress candidate. In the bargain Mr. Giri made a very substantial gain from both the Congress and the Swatantra, Jan Sangh and B.K.D. coalition backing Mr. Deshmukh’s candidature.

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