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Most controversial election which saw VV Giri win

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President Dr Zakir Hussain died of a heart attack on May 3, 1969 and the post became vacant. It is this election that is considered to be the most talked-about Presidential election in the country so far. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi went against her party and fielded her candidate in this election.

When Zakir Hussain died suddenly, it was certain that the Presidential elections would have to be held again. On July 14, 1969, the Election Commission announced the election. Nominations were to be held by July 24 and voting on August 16. 

Read | Presidential Election 1962: Dr Radhakrishnan won comfortably, know who may win in 2022

Congress nominated Neelam Sanjiva Reddy

The Congress party made Neelam Sanjiva Reddy its official candidate, who was a former speaker of the Lok Sabha. Popular labour union leader VV Giri decided to contest as an independent. Whereas, the Swatantra Party, Jana Sangh and other opposition candidate was Chintaman Dwarakanath Deshmukh, who had been the Finance Minister during the Nehru era.

Indira decides to support VV Giri

In violation of party tradition and discipline, Indira Gandhi decided that she would support VV Giri. However, this decision was not made public. But she had conveyed this message to her supporters and she had started persuading the young MPs of the country to support VV Giri.

The Congress party came to know what Indira was doing, so when party President S Nijalingappa pressured her to openly support the party’s candidate Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Indira Gandhi refused to do so.

Vote on the voice of conscience

On August 16, 1969, just four days before the Presidential election, Indira Gandhi made her first statement on the matter. Without naming she appealed to the party MPs and MLAs to vote on the voice of conscience. Everyone guessed what was hidden behind this message.

Her statement was clearly an open call to support the rival independent candidate by not voting against the party’s candidate Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. What Indira Gandhi wanted happened. A large number of party MPs and MLAs extended their support to VV Giri.

VV Giri got the victory by a little more than one percent of the votes. This was followed by a sharply charged correspondence between the Prime Minister and the party president.

How many votes did VV Giri get?

VV Giri got a total of 4,20,077 votes, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy got 4,05,427 votes, while the joint candidate of Swatantra Party and Jana Sangh, Chintaman Dwarakanath Deshmukh got 1,12,769 votes. Apart from this, freedom fighter Chandradutt fighter of Pratapgarh, Punjab politician Gurcharan Kaur, Bombay leader PN Rajbhog were also in the fray as an independent.

On the other hand, Chowdhry Hari Ram again contested and got 125 votes. Apart from this, Khubhi Ram, Krishna Kumar Chatterjee also contested again but could not get any vote.

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