History

History

From Birth to 1966

The National Federation Party took root and grew out of the cane farmers’ associations which were formed particularly in the North Western Vitilevu in the thirties and forties, and which developed into politically con­scious socio-economic organizations by the late fifties and early sixties as the British colonial rule began to give way to a more representative form of government in the country by that time.

NFP-Leaders-AD-Patel,-SM-Koya-&-KC-Ramrakha-appearing-before-the-Denning-Commision,-1969

NFP Leaders AD Patel, SM Koya & KC Ramrakha
appearing before the Denning Commission, 1969

By 1959 as the signing of a ten year contract be­gan to draw near, responsible leaders like the late Hon. A.D. Patel; Hon. James Madhavan; Hon. S.M. Koya and Swami Rudranandaji began to float the idea amongst all farmers that in order to prevail against the Colonial Sugar Refinery Com­pany (CSR), an all united front had to be shown and maintained. The idea of unity was well received by the different leaders who then pledged to set aside their long standing differences and work for the good of the farmers under a united body which they called the Federation of Cane Farmers Association.

The NFP has on record that this very idea was mooted by Mr. Alparti Tataiya, a cane grower of Ra Province at a farmers meeting in Rakiraki, which was attended among others by the late messers A.D. Patel, J.V. Madhavan and S.M. Koya.

But how far had Mr. Tataiyas suggestion influenced the leaders and to what extent was it instrumental in the eventual establishment of the party are matters which have never been determined in any certain way by the party’s leaders or it’s erstwhile historians of later years.

Yet what is clearer is the term ‘Federation’ became a catch word symbolizing Indian unity in the cane farm­ing areas. And so, when the elections for the Legislative Council were to be held in 1963 the Federation of the Cane Growers was transformed into a Citizens Federation for the purpose of fighting the election.

The name change was significant of the political party image now being gradually assumed by the Federation and of its newly acquired vision of attracting votes on a country wide basis rather than its hitherto narrow stance of rep­resenting the interests of the cane farming community only.

The first members of the NFP Parliamentary Party were:
Hon. A.D. Patel: Member for South/ West Vitilevu.
Hon. S.M. Koya: Member for North / West Vitilevu.
Hon. J.V. Madhavan: Member for Vanualevu/ Lau/ Rotuma.
Hon. C.A. Shah: Nominated Member.

The 1964 saw steps being taken by the party to organize itself on more sound footing. It’s meeting in Ba got people like Mr. R.D. Patel and Mr. M.T. Khan, both lawyers, working on a draft constitution of the party and arranging for the establishment of its branches. In due course, the Federation Party opened up its branches in Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki and Sigatoka. Early in April, 1965 a branch was formed at Suva at a meeting in Century Theatre at Marks Street, Suva.

There was a smear campaign against the party and Mr. Patel. Such tactics failed as members of the party did not deter the large turnout of Patel admirers from among the educated class. At meeting in Suva, Mr. Madho S. Tikaram was elected the Branch’s first President. Mr. (now Hon. Justice) Davendra Pathik was elected as the first Secretary of the Suva Branch.

There was a smear campaign against the party and Mr. Patel. Such tactics failed as members of the party did not deter the large turnout of Patel admirers from among the educated class. At meeting in Suva, Mr. Madho S. Tikaram was elected the Branch’s first President. Mr. (now Hon. Justice) Davendra Pathik was elected as the first Secretary of the Suva Branch.

On 25th April, 1965 the Party held its first properly organized National Convention at Lautoka which was at­tended by more than 500 people. At this Convention The party’s draft constitution was adopted. The Conven­tion also gave mandate to the four Legislative Council Members of the Party who were going to attend the Constitutional Conference in London soon afterwards, to make all representations and submissions on behalf of the Party as they best thought fit.

After the Lautoka Convention the party’s branches were organized in Navua, Savusavu, Labasa, Rewa, Tailevu and Tavueni. And before the year ended Mr. Patel held two camp seminars, the first at Mr. Shankar Singh’s property in Taunovou, Navua and the other one at Tavua which was organized by Mr. M. T. Khan. These seminars were highly successful in exhorting members to the ideals of the Party.

Writing about the earliest developments of the Federation Party in his 1973 Ph.D. thesis titled: ‘The Development of Political Parties in Fiji’ Mr. M. Alley had this to say at page 175:

“The rise of the Federation Party was jarring one to many since it’s uncom­fortable, often abrasive style seemed to herald changes that appeared un­palatable and unavoidable. If a system was to emerge in Fiji, who, if not the Federation Party, was best equipped to exploit the political opportunities it might offer? Attempts to win that opportunity, like their frustration and denial, are closely interwoven with the Federation Party’s earliest developments.”

Chirag-Ali-Shah-Founding-Member

Chirag Ali Shah Founding Member

How right Mr. Alley was in suggesting that given the system of equal representation the Federation Party would have swept the polls in 1966. as it turned out the 1966 general elections saw the Federation Party winning all nine Indian Communal seats, polling 43,075 votes or 62.25 % of the total of 66,009 ballots counted with 2,807 or 4.08% of the ballots being invalidated. As against this impressive score the Alliance polled 10, 391 votes or 15.74 % only.

At the conclusion of the 1966 Legislative Council Elections, the following NFP candidates were elected to the Legislative Council:

Hon. A.D. Patel: South-West Indian Communal.
Hon. S. M. Koya: North- West Indian Communal.
Hon. R.D. Patel: North- Central Indian Communal.
Hon. C. A Shah: Ra/ Tavua Indian Communal.
Hon. M.T. Khan: South- Central Indian Communal.
Hon. I.J. Narayan: Suva- City Indian Communal.
Hon. K.C. Ramrakha: Tailevu/ Rewa Indian Communal.
Hon. R. J. Singh: Northern/ Eastern Indian Communal.
Hon. J.V. Madhavan: Vanualevu- North/ West Indian Communal.

Hon. A.D. Patel was elected the Parliamentary Leader of the NFP thus assuming the position of the Leader of the Opposition while Hon. S.M. Koya was elected as the Deputy Leader. Hon. James Madhavan was also elected as the Deputy Speaker of the Council at its first sitting.

Ujargar-Singh-Won-the-1968-By--election

Ujargar Singh Won the 1968 By-Election

1973 NFP Procession Prior to the Convention

This was taken in Nadi town in 1973 .
The march was before the NFP convention.
Those days before the convention it was NFPs tradition to march through town before the convention commenced.
As you can see I was right in front in the march.

Faizal Koya

NFP Candidate 2014