. Of all the political parties that emerged immediately after independence the Socialist Party held the greatest promise. In Jayaprakash Narayan it had a leader next only to Jawaharlal Nehru in mass popularity. It had also several other brilliant leaders, for example, Acharya Narendra Dev, Achyut Patwardhan, Asoka Mehta, Dr Rammanohar Lohia and S.M. Joshi. However, the first problem the Socialists faced—and this was a problem they continued to face to the end—was that of their relationship with Congress. The Socialist Party had been born in 1934 and had remained since then a part of Congress, though it had its own separate constitution, membership, discipline and ideology.
The Socialists had assumed that with the achievement of independence, there no longer existed any common task to unite them with the non-Socialists in Congress. But, in fact, this was not so, as the material, social and political foundations of a socialist India still needed to be laid through economic development with equity, secular democracy and consolidation of national unity. And Congress was still the main organization that could fulfil this task. As Hariharnath Shastri, a member of the National Executive of the Socialist Party and a former president of the All India Trade Union Congress, put it when resigning from the party for its refusal to join the Congress- sponsored Indian National Trade Union Congress: ‘The unfinished task of national revolution demands the full-fledged allegiance of all sections of the people and every progressive group in the country, including the Socialists and the Congress.
The Socialists’ departure from Congress seriously weakened the left inside Congress and led to Nehru being hemmed in by conservative forces in his party. It, thus, did incalculable harm to the left trend in Indian politics. On the other hand, it initiated the process of the self-destruction of the Socialist Party, leading to repeated splits within it.