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How India voted: General Election from 1952 - 2024

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 22-04-2024
How India voted: General Election from 1952 - 2024 Election 21 min read

In June 2024, India will hold its 18th Lok Sabha election - the largest election in human history. 

This interactive article takes you through India's political history since 1952, showcasing the people, politics, and policies that defined the country through the years. 

Brief History of General Elections of Lok Sabha

Starting from the 1st general election of Lok Sabha and 17th LS election, here are few facts about elections.

1st Lok Sabha — 1952 - 1957

  • Total seats: 499
  • The Lok Sabha's inaugural election spanned from 25 October 1951 to 21 February 1952, comprising 68 voting phases. The first ballots were cast in the tehsils of Chini and Pangi in Himachal Pradesh.
  • The Congress party emerged victorious with 364 seats, the Communist Party of India (CPI) came in second, securing 16 of the 49 seats. The Socialist Party (India) followed with Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohiya securing 12 seats out of the 254 they contested. 
  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's Scheduled Caste Federation (SCF) only managed to secure two of the 35 seats it contested, and Ambedkar lost the election.
  • Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, famously known as 'Dadasaheb,' was the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha. 

2nd Lok Sabha — 1957 - 1962

  • Seats: 505
  • Following India's independence, the Indian National Congress solidified its power with the help of a weak opposition and the popularity of their leader, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his socialist ideals. 
  • Their success was evident as they easily secured a second term in power, winning 371 out of 494 Lok Sabha seats, with Mr. Nehru at the helm. 
  • The Communist Party of India followed with 27 seats and the Praja Socialist Party with 19. Notably, this session was the first to take place after the implementation of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956. 
  • In the 1957 Lok Sabha elections, only four national and 11 state parties competed, with 22 women elected out of 45 candidates, the majority hailing from Madhya Pradesh.

3rd Lok Sabha — 1962 - 1967

Seats: 508

  • The Indian National Congress (INC) won the majority of votes at 44.72%, followed by the Communist Party of India (9.94%) and the Swatantra Party, which contested its first election and secured 7.89% of the vote share. 
  • Congress formed the government for the third time but faced early signs of internal dissent. Regional parties gained popularity across the country, and India went to war with China and Pakistan. India's foreign policy remained non-aligned throughout this period.
  • Mr. Nehru served as the Prime Minister from August 15, 1947, to May 27, 1964. There were two acting Prime Ministers during this time: Gulzarilal Nanda, who served twice, first from May 27 to June 9, 1964, and then from January 11 to January 24, 1966, and Mr. Shastri, who held office from June 9, 1964, to January 11, 1966. Indira Gandhi was the PM for the remaining Lok Sabha session.
  • It's worth noting that indelible ink was used in the voting process for the first time during this period.

4th Lok Sabha — 1967 - 1970

  • Total seats: 523
  • Indira Gandhi, India's first and only female Prime Minister, rose to power and implemented policies to address the country's economic challenges. However, internal strife within the Congress party jeopardized their stability, leading to the emergence of coalition governments.
  •  The Indian National Congress claimed the majority of seats in the House, with 56% (283), while the Swatantra Party and Bharatiya Jana Sangh followed with 44 and 35 seats, respectively. INC, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and BJS also fared well in the reserved seats for SC and ST categories.

Congress split, 1969

  • The split of the Indian National Congress in November 1969, when Indira Gandhi was expelled from the party for indiscipline by Congress party president, S. Nijalingappa. Gandhi then launched her own faction of the INC known as Congress (R), while the original party came to be known as Indian National Congress (O). 
  • Kamraj, Morarji Desai, Nijalingappa, and S. K. Patil was the principal leader of the Indian National Congress (O), who stood for a more right-wing agenda. 
  • The split occurred when a united opposition under the banner of Samyukta Vidhayak Dal won control over several states in the Hindi Belt.

5th Lok Sabha — 1971 - 1977

  • Total seats: 521
  • Indira Gandhi's slogan of 'Garibi Hatao' and her leadership during the Bangladesh war increased her popularity among the public. However, she faced criticism for her authoritarian tendencies within the party. 
  • The period following the emergency declaration on 25th June 1977 saw one of India's darkest times in post-independence history, with civil liberties suspended. 
  • The Congress party, headed by Indira Gandhi, won a vast majority of 352 seats and had almost complete control over the government. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) came second with 25 seats, followed by the Communist Party of India and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) with 23 seats each. 
  • Around 48% of the voters were women, with the highest percentage of female voters recorded in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.

6th Lok Sabha — 1977 - 1980

  • Total seats: 544
  • The Janata Party's Morarji Desai became India's first non-Congress Prime Minister at the age of 81. The 1977 General Election saw a significant reversal in Congress's fortunes, as it failed to secure a majority for the first time in Indian history. 
  • Bharatiya Lok Dal (BLD) won the highest number of seats (295), followed by the INC (154) and CPM (22).

7th Lok Sabha — 1980 - 1984

  • Total seats: 531
  • In January of 1980, the Indian National Congress won the shortest elections in four days, claiming 353 seats. The Janata Party (S) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) won 41 and 37 seats respectively. 
  • These elections followed a period of challenges for the government, including unemployment, labour unrest, and increasing militancy in Punjab.
  • During this period, the separatist movement in Punjab posed a significant challenge to the government. 
  • The Akalis demanded autonomy and regions for Punjab. Despite negotiations with militants, Mrs. Gandhi ordered the army to launch Operation Blue Star. This operation involved attacking Golden Temple and other religious sites. Unfortunately, this led to her assassination on October 31, 1984, by her Sikh bodyguards.

8th Lok Sabha — 1984 - 1989

  • Total seats: 516
  • The Congress party was rejuvenated by Rajiv Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh's political landscape was reshaped by N.T. Rama Rao. The social climate was marked by communal disharmony, anti-Sikh riots, and the Bofors scam. 
  • During this time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made its first appearance in politics and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) garnered immense popularity with N.T. Rama Rao at the helm. 
  • In terms of seats won, the Congress party secured a record 414, followed by TDP with 30 and CPM with 22 seats. The BJP won two seats, one in Gujarat and the other in Andhra Pradesh (which is now inTelangana).

9th Lok Sabha — 1989 - 1991

  • Total seats: 531
  • The National Front coalition formed the government for the first time without a majority party in the Lower House. V.P. Singh of Janata Dal was then sworn in as the Prime Minister. 
  • During this time, unrest was stirred throughout the country due to the Mandal and Mandir politics, with protests against caste-based reservation and the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. 
  • Congress faced a severe defeat, winning less than half of the total seats they had won in the 1984 elections. Janata Dal secured 143 seats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party followed. The BJP gained the most, increasing their MPs from two to 85.

10th Lok Sabha — 1991 - 1996

  • Total seats: 508
  • In the 1990s, India saw significant changes. Narasimha Rao's economic policies liberalized the country's economy. 
  • However, the Babri Masjid demolition and Mandal Commission report caused violent polarization.
  • Congress won 232 seats, BJP won 120, and Janata Dal won 59 in the 1991 General Elections.

11th Lok Sabha — 1996 - 1998

  • Total seats: 545
  • The 1996 General Elections saw a rise in caste-based and regional politics as disillusionment with the Congress government grew. The United Front government led by Janata Dal leaders was bogged down by corruption scandals and coalition instability. 
  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) became the largest party with 161 seats, followed by Congress with 140 seats and Janata Dal with 46 seats.

12th Lok Sabha — 1998 - 1999

  • Total seats: 545
  • The House of Representatives had its shortest-ever session due to political instability within the coalition. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's leadership helped the Bharatiya Janata Party gain national prominence. 
  • In the elections, the BJP won the most seats (182), followed by the Indian National Congress with 141 seats and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) with 32 seats. 
  • The BJP-led NDA formed the government, and Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second time in March 1998, serving for 13 months.

13th Lok Sabha — 1999 - 2004

Total seats: 545

  • The Indian general elections of 1999 were held in five phases between September 5 and October 3, 1999, which was the longest political campaign for a general election in Independent India at the time. 
  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the elections with 182 seats, followed by the Indian National Congress (INC) with 114 seats and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) with 33 seats. 
  • The elections also witnessed the piloting of electronic voting machines (EVMs) along with the traditional ballot papers.
  • The Kargil War boosted Vajpayee's popularity. The 2001 Parliament breach, 2002 Gujarat riots and ideological fissures within BJP later spelled trouble for NDA. 
  • The government launched the Golden Quadrilateral Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, transforming India’s road connectivity network. POTA legislation was introduced after the 2001 attack on Lok Sabha.

14th Lok Sabha — 2004 - 2009

  • Total seats: 545
  • The government led by Manmohan Singh achieved economic growth and passed important legislation such as the Right to Information Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Additionally, they made history by signing the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal. 
  • In this election, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were introduced for the first time. The Election Commission distributed 10 lakh EVMs throughout the country. 
  • The states of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand held their first election. The Congress party emerged as the single largest party with 145 seats, while the BJP came in second with 138 seats.

15th Lok Sabha — 2009 - 2014

  • Seats: 545
  • The Congress-led UPA retained power,passed the Right to Education Act and reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh. 
  • Meira Kumar was appointed the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha; she was the daughter of freedom fighter and former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram.

16th Lok Sabha — 2014 - 2019

  • Total seats: 545
  • BJP won with the promise of 'acche din' challenging the stasis and corruption of the Congress. Policies like GST, demonetisation, 'Digital India' and 'Swacch Bharat Abhiyan' were introduced. NOTA option was presented for the first time. 
  • BJP won 282 seats, Congress won 37 seats. Sumitra Mahajan was elected as the Speaker.

17th Lok Sabha — 2019 - 2024

  • Total seats: 545
  • The BJP government led by Narendra Modi consolidated power after winning 350 seats in the largest-ever election held in the world. 
  • The elections were conducted in 543 constituencies in seven phases between April 11 and May 23. 
  • National security, COVID-19 pandemic, farmers' unrest, communal clashes, CAA protests, and abrogation of Article 370 were some of the undercurrents of this divisive period. 
  • This year, EVMs were 100% backed by a "voter-verifiable Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) for the first time.

India is participating in the largest democratic celebration in the forthcoming seven-phased 18th General Elections, starting from April 19 and ending on June 1.

Allocation of Seats based on Delimitation Commission

  • Article 82 and 170 of the Constitution dictate that the number of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative assemblies, as well as their distribution into territorial constituencies, must be adjusted after each census. 
  • This process is known as 'delimitation' and is carried out by the 'Delimitation Commission' established under an act of Parliament. This exercise was conducted after the census of 1951, 1961, and 1971.
  • The Delimitation Commission has been formed four times - in 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002. Delimitation did not take place after the census of 1981 and 1991. Although it occurred after the 2001 census, the number of seats was not increased.
  • The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 empowered the government to undertake the readjustment and rationalization of territorial constituencies in the states based on the population figures of the 1991 census.
  • The 87th Amendment Act of 2003 provided for the delimitation of constituencies based on the 2001 census, not the 1991 census.
  • Under current law, the next delimitation exercise may be conducted after the first census to be conducted after the year 2026. 
  • The Delimitation Commission will be formed by the President and will work closely with the Election Commission. Retired judges of the Supreme Court will be members. The decisions of the commission cannot be challenged.

Read about: History and science of indelible ink applied on finger during voting


Answer: 1952

Answer: 18th
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