June 4 and August 4 are two important dates in Indian political history. They mark the birth and death of a party for which there is a growing nostalgia among people who were familiar with it; a growing curiosity among young people who have only heard about it; and, interestingly, a growing yearning for something similar among people who are completely ignorant of it.
The Swatantra Party was born on June 4, 1959, and put to death on August 4, 1974. In those 15 years, it blazed a memorable trail across the Indian political firmament, daring to be the voice of a liberal-democratic order in a political and intellectual climate overwhelmingly socialist. It was not the only right-wing voice; there was the Jan Sangh (the precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party), older to it by eight years, but that had a more conservative-nationalist pitch. There was a smattering of other right-wing political formations, but these two were the only ones with a significant presence.