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Since independence, elections in India have evolved a long way, but all along elections have been a significant cultural aspect of independent India.

In 2004, Indian elections covered an electorate larger than 670 million people—over twice that of the next largest, the European Parliament elections—and declared expenditure has trebled since 1989 to almost $300 million, using more than 1 million electronic voting machines.[1] In 2009, the elections covered an even larger electorate of 714 million[2] (larger than both EU and US elections combined[3]).

The size of the huge electorate mandates that elections be conducted in a number of phases (there were four phases in 2004 General Elections and five phases in 2009). It involves a number of step-by-step processes from announcement of election dates by the Election Commission of India, which brings into force the 'model code of conduct' for the political parties, to the announcement of results and submission of the list of successful candidates to the executive head of the state or the centre. The submission of results marks the end of the election process, thereby paving way for the formation of the new government.


List of National Elections


Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha Elections, elect the Prime Minister of India, and are democratic elections that take place every 5 years, but the election could occur earlier, if the President of India, dissolves the parliament and calls for new elections.

Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha members are indirectly elected, and are almost entirely elected by Members of Parliament, while 11 member are nominated by the President of India, usually with the advice and consent from the Prime Minister of India.

Presidential Election

The President of India, is indirectly elected, to a 5 year term, and the electoral college, is used, where the Member of Parliament of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, and the Members of Legislative Assemblies from all states and territories of India cast their vote.

Indian electoral system

The Parliament of India comprises the head of country — the president — and the two Houses which are the legislature. The President of India is elected for a five-year term by an electoral college consisting of members of federal and state legislatures. Parliament of India has two chambers. The House of the People (Lok Sabha) has 545 members, 543 members elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies and two members appointed to represent the Anglo-Indian community.(as envisaged by the Constitution of India, as of now the members of Lok Sabha are 545, out of which 543 are elected for 5-year term and 2 members represent the Anglo-Indian community). The two unelected members are a relic from the past. The 550 members are elected under the plurality ('first past the post') electoral system.

Council of States (Rajya Sabha) has 245 members, 233 members elected for a six-year term, with one-third retiring every two years. The members are elected by legislators of the state and union (federal) territories. The elected members are chosen under the system of proportional representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote. The twelve nominated members are usually an eclectic mix of eminent artists (including actors), scientists, jurists, sportspersons, businessmen and journalists and common people.

History of elections in India

India got its first Lok Sabha in April 1952, after the first General Elections were successfully concluded and the Indian National Congress (INC) came into power with 245 seats in its kitty. Here is a brief history of Lok Sabha tenures...

Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of the adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is 552, which is made up by election of up to 530 members to represent the States, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President, if, in his/ her opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House.

1st Lok Sabha (1952)

The country got its debut Lok Sabha in April 1952, after the first General Elections were successfully concluded. The Indian National Congress (INC) stormed into power in the first Lok Sabha elections with 364 seats. With this, the party managed to secure 45 per cent of the total votes polled. An electoral participation of 44.87 per cent was reported from across India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru became the first elected Prime Minister of the country, his party clearly beating rivals by winning 75.99% (47,665,951) of the votes cast. The Lok Sabha, which was constituted on April 17, 1952, lasted its full term till April 4, 1957.

Before Independent India went to the polls, two former cabinet colleagues of Nehru established separate political parties to challenge the INC's supremacy. While Shyama Prasad Mookerjee went on to found the Jana Sangh in October 1951, Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar revived the Scheduled Castes Federation (which was later named the Republican Party). Other parties which started coming to the forefront included the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Parishad, whose prime mover was Acharya Kripalani; the Socialist Party which had Ram Manohar Lohia and Jay Prakash Narayan's leadership to boast of and the Communist Party of India. However, these smaller parties knew that they really didn't stand a chance to against the Congress.

The first general elections, which were conducted for 489 constituencies, represented 26 Indian states. At that time, there were a few two-seat and even a three-seat constituency. The multi-seat constituencies were discontinued in the 1960s.

The Speaker of the first Lok Sabha was Shri G.V. Mavalankar. The first Lok Sabha also witnessed 677 sittings (3,784 hours), the highest recorded count of the number of sittings. Lok Sabha lasted its full term from April 17, 1952 to April 4, 1957.

2nd Lok Sabha (1957)

The Indian National Congress managed to replicate its 1952 success story in the second Lok Sabha elections held in 1957. The INC managed to win 371 seats from a total of 490 candidates who were in the political fray. The party also secured 47.78 per cent majority winning a total of 57,579,589 votes. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru came back to power with a comfortable majority. On May 11, 1957, M. Ananthasayanam Iyengar was unanimously elected the Speaker of the new Lok Sabha. His name was proposed by Prime Minister Nehru and seconded by Mr. Satyanarayan Sinha.

These elections also saw the rise of Congress member, Feroz Gandhi (who went on to marry PM Nehru's daughter Indira), who defeated his nearest rival, Nand Kishore by a margin of over 29,000 votes to win the general seat in the Rae Bareilly constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

Interestingly, in the 1957 polls not a single woman candidate was in the fray. Independents got 19 per cent of the vote in 1957. The 2nd Lok Sabha completed its full term on March 31, 1962.

3rd Lok Sabha (1962)

Jawaharlal Nehru had led the Congress to a resounding victory in the 1957 elections with a majority win. During his tenure the Congress leader had also envisaged a new look for the country in the areas of development and growth. Thus came into effect the scheme of Five Year Plan which was aimed at improving the living standards of the people by making judicious use of natural resources. The various sectors in which Nehru wanted the country to leap forward included science and technology, industrial sector, communications. The futuristic PM of India had plans of seeing steel mills and dams as the temples of modern India.

The third Lok Sabha was formed in April 1962. At the time relations with Pakistan remained chilling. 'Friendly' ties with China also proved to be something of a misnomer with the Border War breaking out in October 1962. The key issue behind the Indo-Sino conflict of 1962 is attributed to the 1956-57 construction of a Chinese military highway in the disputed territory of Aksai China just west of Tibet. The war which began with skirmishes in the summer of 1962 assumed significant proportions in October and November, 1962, along three widely separated fronts. A strong and well-prepared Chinese army outshone the Indian army.

Widely criticised for his government's insufficient attention to defence, Nehru was forced to sack the then defence minister Krishna Menon and accept U.S. military aid. Nehru's health began declining steadily, and he was forced to spend months recuperating in Kashmir through 1963. Upon his return from Kashmir in May 1964, Nehru suffered a stroke and later a heart attack and died on May 27, 1964. China's invasion of India's borders in 1962 and the state of affairs vis-a-vis Pakistan had left Nehru quit embittered, say experts.

Veteran Congress leader Gulzarilal Nanda succeeded Nehru at his death for a period of two weeks. He served as the acting Prime Minister until the Congress had elected a new leader, Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri was an unlikely choice for PM who, perhaps unexpectedly, led the country to something of a victory over Pakistan in 1965. Shastri and the humbled Pakistani President, Muhammad Ayub Khan, signed a peace treaty at Tashkent in the former Soviet Union on January 10, 1966. However, Shastri could barely live to see the spoils of his win.

Following the vacuum created by Shastri's death, the Congress was once again found itself devoid of a leader. Nanda was back to being the acting Prime Minister, again for a period of less than a month, before being succeeded by Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter. Indira had served as Information and Broadcasting Minister in Shastri's cabinet. The then Congress President K Kamraj had a major role to play in elevating Indira to the post of Prime Minsitership in 1966. Despite stiff opposition from veteran Congress leader Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister on January 24, 1966. For the Congress it was not really the best of times. The party was going through internal crisis and the country itself was recovering from two closely fought wars. The economy was hurting, general sentiment was low. Other issues which rocked the Lok Sabha included the Mizo tribal uprisings, famine, labour unrest and misery among the poor in the wake of rupee devaluation. There was also a lot of agitation in the Punjab for linguistic and religious separatism.

4th Lok Sabha (1967)

The country had its fourth outing at the hustings since Independence in April 1967. For the Congress which till now had never won less than 73 per cent of the seats in Parliament, it was more bad news ahead.

Congress' internal crisis stared at its face in the results of the 1967 elections. For the first time, it lost nearly 60 seats in the Lower House, managing to win 283 seats. Until 1967, the grand old party had also never won less than 60 per cent of all seats in Assembly elections. It also suffered a major setback as non-Congress ministries were established in Bihar, Kerala, Orissa, Madras, the Punjab and West Bengal. Among all this, Indira Gandhi, elected to the Lok Sabha from Rai Bareili constituency, was sworn in as the Prime Minister on March 13. In order to keep dissident voices at bay, she appointed Morarji Desai, who had opposed her candidature as PM after Nehru's death, as Deputy Prime Minister of India and Finance Minister of India.

The Congress' dismal electoral performance forced her to become assertive and opt for a series of choices that put her against the Congress Party high command. Differences within the party kept building. The Congress expelled her for "indiscipline" on November 12, 1969, an action that split the party into two factions: the Congress (O)-for Organisation-led by Morarji Desai, and the Congress (I)--for Indira-led by Indira Gandhi. Indira continued to head a minority government with support from the CPI(M) till December 1970. Not wanting to head a minority government any longer, she called for a mid-term election to the Lok Sabha a full one year ahead of schedule.

The country was set for the fifth general elections.

5th Lok Sabha (1971)

Indira Gandhi steered the Congress to a landslide victory in 1971.Campaigning on the slogan of "garibi hatao" (eliminate poverty), she returned in Parliament with 352 seats, a marked improvement from the party's poor show of 283 in the previous polls.

Indira Gandhi took bold decisions during the India-Pakistan war in 1971 that resulted in the liberation of Bangladesh. India's victory in December 1971 was hailed by all Indians as it came in the face of diplomatic opposition from both China and the United States. There was hardly any international support from almost every other nation except the erstwhile Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries.

For Indira and the Congress, there were other problems in store. Enormous economic cost of the Indo-Pak war, increase in world oil prices and, drop in industrial output added to the economic hardships.

On June 12, 1975, the Allahabad High Court invalidated her 1971 election on the grounds of electoral malpractices. Instead of resigning, Indira Gandhi declared an Emergency in the country and jailed the entire Opposition.

The Emergency lasted till March 1977 and in the General Elections held in 1977, she was routed by a coalition of parties called Janta Morcha. This was the first time that the Congress had faced a serious defeat.

6th Lok Sabha (1977)

The state of Emergency declared by the Congress government was the core issue in the 1977 elections. Civil liberties were suspended during the national emergency from 25 June 1975 to 21 March 1977 and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assumed vast powers.

Gandhi had become extremely unpopular for her decision and paid for it during the elections. Gandhi, on January 23, called fresh elections for March and released all political prisoners. Four Opposition parties, the Organisation Congress, the Jan Sangh, the Bharatiya Lok Dal and the Socialist Party, decided to fight the elections as a single party, called the Janata Party.

The Janata Party reminded voters of excesses and human rights violations during the Emergency, like compulsory sterilisation and imprisonment of political leaders. The Janata campaign said the elections would decide whether India would have "democracy or dictatorship." The Congress looked jittery: Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram quit the party, and he was one among many.

The Congress tried to woo voters by speaking about the need for a strong government but the tide was against it.

The Congress lost the elections for the first time in independent India and Janata Party leader Morarji Desai, who had been released from prison two months before the elections, won 298 seats. Desai became India's first non-Congress Prime Minister on March 24.

The Congress lost nearly 200 seats. Indira Gandhi, who had been in government since 1966, and her son Sanjay both lost elections.

7th Lok Sabha (1980)

The Janata Party came into power riding the public anger against the Congress and the Emergency but its position was weak. The party held 270 seats in the Lok Sabha and it never quite had a firm grip on power.

Bharatiya Lok Dal leader Charan Singh and Jagjivan Ram, who had quit the Congress, were members of the Janata alliance but they were at loggerheads with Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

The tribunals the government had set up to investigate human rights abuses during the Emergency appeared vindictive and a witch-hunt against Congress leader Indira Gandhi, who lost no opportunity of portraying herself as a harassed woman.

The Janata Party, an amalgam of socialists and Hindu nationalists, split in 1979 when Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) leaders A B Vajpayee and L K Advani quit and the BJS withdrew support to the government.

Desai lost a trust vote in Parliament and resigned. Charan Singh, who had retained some partners of the Janata alliance, was sworn in as Prime Minister in June 1979.

Congress promised to support Singh in Parliament but later backed out. He called for elections in January 1980 and is the only Prime Minister not to have faced Parliament. The fight between Janata Party leaders and the political instability in the country worked in favour of the Congress (I), which reminded voters of the strong government of Indira Gandhi.

The Congress won 351 Lok Sabha seats and the Janata Party, or what remained of the alliance, won 32 seats.

The Janata split and split over the years but it had recorded an important landmark in the country political history: it was a coalition and proved that the Congress could be defeated.

8th Lok Sabha (1984-85)

Prime Minister Indira's Gandhi assassination on October 31, 1984, created a sympathy vote for the Congress. The Lok Sabha was dissolved after Indira's death and Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as interim Prime Minister.

Elections were announced for November 1984 and during the campaigning Rajiv reminded people of his family's contribution and portrayed himself as a reformer.

The Congress won a landslide victory. It won 404 Lok Sabha seats and more than 50 per cent of the popular vote, the party's best performance ever.

10th Lok Sabha (1991)

The 10th Lok Sabha Elections were a mid-term one as the previous Lok Sabha had been dissolved just 16 months after government formation. The elections were held in a polarised environment and are also referred to as the 'Mandal-Mandir' elections after the two most important poll issues, the Mandal Commission fallout and the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.

While the Mandal Commission report implemented by the VP Singh government gave 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in government jobs and led to widespread violence and protests across the country by the forward castes, Mandir represented the row over the disputed Babri Masjid structure at Ayodhya which the Bharatiya Janata Party was using as its major poll plank.

The Mandir issue had led to riots in many party of the country and the electorate was polarised on caste and religious lines. With the national Front in disarray, the Congress seemed to be on the comeback trail.

The elections were held in three phases May 20, June 12 and June 15, 1991. It was a three-cornered fight between the Congress, the BJP and the National Front-Janta Dal (S)-Left Front coalition.

A day after the first round of polling took place on May 20, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam while campaigning at Sriperembudur. The remaining election days were postponed until mid-June and voting finally took place on June 12 and June 15. Voting was the lowest ever in parliamentary elections with just 53 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise.

The results threw a Hung Parliament with the Congress emerging as the largest party with 232 seats, while the BJP was second with 120 seats. Janata Dal came a distant third with just 59 seats.

On June 21, PV Narasimha Rao of the Congress was sworn in as the Prime Minister. Rao was the only second Congress PM from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family. The first non-Nehru-Gandhi family PM from Congress was Lal Bahadur Shastri.

11th Lok Sabha (1996)

Elections for 11th Lok Sabha resulted in a hung Parliament and two years of political instability during which the country would have three Prime Ministers.

Prime Minister P V Narasimha's Rao Congress (I) government had implemented a series of reforms which opened up the country's economy to foreign investors. Rao's supporter credited him for saving the country's economy and energizing its foreign policy but his government was weak and unsure before elections in April-May.

In May 1995, senior leaders Arjun Singh and Narayan Dutt Tiwari quit the Congress and formed their own party. The Harshad Mehta scandal, the Vohra report on criminalisation of politics, the Jain hawala scandal and the 'Tandoor murder' case had damaged the Rao government's credibility.

The BJP and its allies and the United Front, a coalition comprising the Left Front and the Janata Dal, were the Congress' main rivals in elections.

During the three-week campaign, Rao wooed voters with the economic reforms he had implemented and the BJP with Hindutva and national security.

Voters didn't seem impressed with either party. The BJP won 161 seats and the Congress 140-the halfway-mark in Parliament was 271.

The President invited BJP leader A B Vajpayee to form the government, as he was the chief of the single largest party in Parliament.

Vajpayee took over as Prime Minister on May 16 and tried to get support from regional parties in Parliament. He failed and resigned 13 days later.

Janata Dal leader Deve Gowda formed a United Front coalition government on June 1. His government lasted 18 months.

I K Gujral, Gowda's Foreign Minister, took over as Prime Minister in April 1997 after the Congress agreed to support a new United Front government from the outside. But Gujral was a stopgap arrangement. The country would go to elections again in 1998.

12th Lok Sabha (1998)

The 11th Lok Sabha had a short life, lasting barely one-and-a-half years. The minority Inder Kumar Gujral government, the second by the United Front in 18 months since the May 1996 general elections, collapsed on November 28, 1997 when the Congress, headed by Sitaram Kesri, withdrew support over controversy surrounding involvement in the 1991 assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Fresh elections were announced

The 12th Lok Sabha was constituted on March 10, 1998, and a coalition led by veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in nine days later. The 12th Lok Sabha had a life-span of 413 days, the shortest to date.

The dissolution came in the absence of a viable alternative after the 13-month-old Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was ousted by one vote on April 17. This was the fifth time the Lok Sabha was dissolved before completing its full tenure.

Elections were held for all the seats of the Lok Sabha following the premature dissolution of the Lok Sabha on December 4, 1997. General elections had previously been held in April/May 1996.

Post-poll alliance strategy gave the BJP-led alliance a working majority of some 265 seats. In this context, on March 15, Vajpayee was invited by President Narayanan to form the next Government. On March 19, Vajpayee took the oath as Prime Minister.

13th Lok Sabha (1999)

On April 17, 1999, Vajpayee lost a confidence vote in the Lok Sabha and consequently tendered the resignation of his coalition government. He cited a lack of cohision in his 24-party National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as the reason. The BJP fell short of a single vote due to the withdrawal of one of their coalition partners, the AIADMK led by Jayalalithaa.

Jayalalithaa had consistently threatened to withdraw support from the ruling coalition if certain demands were not met, in particular the sacking of the Tamil Nadu government, the control of which she had lost three years prior. The BJP accused Jayalalithaa of making the demands in order to avoid standing trial for a series of corruption charges, and no agreement between the parties could be reached, leading to the government's defeat.

The main Opposition party, the Congress, could not muster enough support to form a majority government with regional and Left-wing groups. On April 26, the then President of India, late K R Narayanan, dissolved the Lok Sabha and called for early elections. The BJP continued to rule as an interim administration until the polling, the dates of which were announced on May 4, by the Election Commission.

As General Elections had previously been held in 1996 and 1998, those of 1999 were the third in 40 months. Their dates were spread over five weeks to allow for the deployment of security forces around the country's 31 states and Union Territories to stem electoral fraud and violence. Altogether 45 parties (six national, the rest regional) contested the 543 Lok Sabha seats.

During the lengthy election campaign, the BJP and the Congress generally agreed on economic and foreign policy issues, including the handling of the Kashmir border crisis with Pakistan. Their rivalry only boiled down into a personal confrontation between Vajpayee and the Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The entry of Sonia Gandhi, a relative newcomer having been elected to the party presidency in 1998, was challenged by then Maharashtra Congress leader, Sharad Pawar, on the grounds of her Italian birth. This led to a crisis within the Congress and the BJP effectively used this as an electoral issue.

Another issue running in the BJP's favour was the generally positive view of Vajpayee's handling of the Kargil War, which had ended a few months prior to the polls and had affirmed and strengthened the Indian position in Kashmir. Also, in the previous two years, India had posted strong economic growth on the back of economic liberalisation and financial reforms, as well as a low rate of inflation and higher rate of industrial expansion.

The 1991, 1996, and 1998 elections saw a period of consistent growth for the BJP and its allies, based primarily on political expansions in terms of cultivating stronger and broader alliances with other previously-unaffiliated parties; and regional expansion which had seen the NDA become competitive and even the largest vote takers in previously Congress-dominated areas such as Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. These final factors were to prove decisive in the election outcome of 1999.

The outcome which began on October 6 gave the NDA 298 seats, 136 to the Congress and its allies. Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister on October 13.

14th Lok Sabha (2004)

The BJP-led NDA government, headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee completed five years of its rule in 2004 and elections followed in four phases between April 20 and May 10, 2004.

Most analysts believed the NDA, riding high on the feel-good factor and its promotional campaign 'India Shining', would beat anti-incumbency and win clear majority. The economy had shown steady growth during the BJP rule and the disinvestment of PSUs had been on track. The Foreign Exchange Reserves of India stood at more than $100 billion (the seventh largest in the world and a record for India). The service sector had also generated a lot of jobs.

These elections, compared to all the other Lok Sabha elections of the 1990s, saw more of a head-to-head battle between personalities (Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi) as there was no viable Third Front alternative. The fight was between the BJP and its allies on the one hand and the Congress and its allies on the other. However, regional differences emerged on the national scene.

The BJP fought the elections as part of the NDA, although some of its seat-sharing agreements were made with strong regional parties outside of the NDA such as the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.

Ahead of the elections there were attempts to form a Congress-led national level joint opposition front. In the end, an agreement could not be reached, but on regional level alliances between Congress and regional parties were made in several states. This was the first time that Congress contested with that type of alliances in a parliamentary election.

The left parties, most notably the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, contested on their own in their strongholds West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, confronting both Congress and NDA forces. In several other states, such as Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, they took part in seat sharings with Congress. In Tamil Nadu they were part of the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance.

Two parties refused to go along with either Congress or BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party. Both are based in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India.

Though pre-poll predictions were for an overwhelming majority for the BJP, the exit polls (immediately after the elections and before the counting began) predicted a hung parliament. However, even the exit polls could only indicate the general trend and nowhere close to the final figures. There is also the general perception that as soon as the BJP started realising that events might not proceed entirely in its favour, it changed the focus of its campaign from India Shining to issues of stability. The Congress, who was regarded as "old-fashioned" by the ruling BJP, was largely backed by poor, rural, lower-caste and minority voters that did not participate in the economic boom of previous years that created a large wealthy middle class and thus achieved its overwhelming victory.

The reverses in the pre-poll predictions are ascribed to various reasons depending on the point of view. People were more concerned about issues of their immediate environment such as water scarcity, drought, etc., than national issues and the anti-incumbency factor was at work for the BJP allies.

On May 13, the BJP conceded defeat and the Congress was able to put together a comfortable majority of more than 335 members out of 543 (including external support from BSP, SP, MDMK and the Left front) with the help of its allies and under the direction of Sonia Gandhi. This post-poll alliance was called the United Progressive Alliance.

However, Sonia Gandhi surprised almost all observers by declining to become the new prime minister. Instead, she asked former finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh to take up the mantle. Dr Singh had previously served under Congress prime minister Narasimha Rao in the early-1990s, where he was seen as one of the architects of India's first economic liberalisation plan that staved off an impending national monetary crisis.

15th Lok Sabha (2009)

In May 2009, the results of the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha were announced where congress-led United Progressive Alliance which means (UPA) won the mandate to lead the Lok Sabha. Mrs. Meira Kumar became the speaker

History of political parties

The dominance of the Indian National Congress was broken for the first time in 1977, with the defeat of the party led by Indira Gandhi, by an unlikely coalition of all the major other parties, which protested against the imposition of a controversial Emergency from 1975–1977. A similar coalition, led by VP Singh was swept to power in 1989 in the wake of major allegations of corruption by the incumbent Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. It, too, lost its steam in 1990.

In 1992, the heretofore one-party-dominant politics in India gave way to a coalition system wherein no single party can expect to achieve a majority in the Parliament to form a government, but rather has to depend on a process of coalition building with other parties to form a block and claim a majority to be invited to form the government. This has been a consequence of strong regional parties which ride on the back of regional aspirations. While parties like the TDP and the AIADMK had traditionally been strong regional contenders, the 1990s saw the emergence of other regional players such as the Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Janata Dal. These parties are traditionally based on regional aspirations, e.g. Telengana Rastra Samiti or strongly influenced by caste considerations, e.g. Bahujan Samaj Party which claims to represent the Dalits.

Presently, the United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress Party is in power, while the National Democratic Alliance forms the opposition. Manmohan Singh was re-elected.

The Election Commission

Elections in India are conducted by the Election Commission of India, the authority created under the Constitution. It is a well established convention that once the election process commences; no courts intervene until the results are declared by the election commission. During the elections, vast powers are assigned to the election commission to the extent that it can function as a civil court, if needed.

Electoral process

Electoral Process in India takes at least a month for state assembly elections with the duration increasing further for the General Elections. Publishing of electoral rolls is a key process that happens before the elections and is vital for the conduct of elections in India. The Indian Constitution sets the eligibility of an individual for voting. Any person who is a citizen of India and above 18 years of age is eligible to enroll as a voter in the electoral rolls. It is the responsibility of the eligible voters to enroll their names. Normally, voter registrations are allowed latest one week prior to the last date for nomination of candidates.

Pre elections

At first before the elections the dates of nomination, polling and counting takes place. The model code of conduct comes in force from the day the dates are announced. . No party is allowed to use the government resources for campaigning. The code of conduct stipulates that campaigning be stopped 48 hours prior to polling day. For Indian states a pre-election is a must

Voting Day

Campaigning ends the day before the voting day. Government schools and colleges are chosen as polling stations. The Collector of each district is in charge of polling. Government servants are employed to many of the polling stations. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being increasingly used instead of ballot boxes to prevent election fraud via booth capturing, which is heavily prevalent in certain parts of India. An indelible ink manufactured by the Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited is applied usually on the left index finger of the voter as an indicator that the voter has cast his vote. This practice has been followed since the 1962 general elections to prevent bogus voting.

Post elections

After the election day, the EVMs are stored in a strong room under heavy security. After the different phases of the elections are complete, a day is set to count the votes. The votes are tallied typically, the verdict is known within hours. The candidate who has mustered the most votes is declared the winner of the constituency.

The party or coalition that has won the most seats is invited by the President to form the new government. The coalition or party must prove its majority in the floor of the house (Lok Sabha) in a vote of confidence by obtaining a simple majority (minimum 50%) of the votes in the house.

Voter registration

For few cities in India, the voter registration forms can be generated online and submitted to the nearest electoral office.Some of the socially relevant websites like [] is good place to gather information on voter registration.

Absentee voting

As of now, India does not have an absentee ballot system. Section 19 of The Representation of the People Act (RPA)-1950[4] allows a person to register to vote if he or she is above 18 years of age and is an ‘ordinary resident’ of the residing constituency i.e. living at the current address for 6 months or longer. Section 20 of the above Act disqualifies a non-resident Indian (NRI) from getting his/her name registered in the electoral rolls. Consequently, it also prevents a NRI from casting his/her vote in elections to the Parliament and to the State Legislatures.

The Representation of the People (Amendment) 2006 Bill was introduced in the Parliament by Shri Hanraj Bharadwaj, Minister of Law and Justice during February 2006 with an objective to amend Section 20 of the RPA-1950 to enable NRIs to vote. Despite the report submitted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee two years ago, the Government has so far failed to act on the recommendations. The Bill was reintroduced in the 2008 budget session of the Parliament to the Lok Sabha. But no action taken once again.

Several civic society organizations have urged the government to amend the RPA act to allow NRI's and people on the move to cast their vote through absentee ballot system[5][6] .

Electoral reforms

Proposed Electoral Reforms by Election Commission of India

  • Subrata K. Mitra and V.B. Singh. 1999. Democracy and Social Change in India: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Electorate. New Delhi: Sage Publications. ISBN 81-7036-809-X (India HB) ISBN 0-7619-9344-4 (U.S. HB).
  • Subrata K. Mitra, Mike Enskat, Clemens Spiess (eds.). 2004. Political Parties in South Asia. Greenwood: Praeger.
  • Subrata K. Mitra/Mike Enskat/V.B. Singh. 2001. India, in: Nohlen, Dieter (Ed.). Elections in Asia and the Pacific


See also

External links

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