Elections in India
The Prime Minister of India is the head of government and exercises most executive power. Appointed by the president, the prime minister is by convention supported by the party or political alliance having a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha or lower house of parliament.
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous entity prescribed in the Constitution of India. It is the federal authority responsible for administering all the electoral processes of India and ensuring they are free and fair.
Elections are conducted according to constitutional provisions and parliamentary legislation. These include the Representation of the People Act, 1950, which mainly deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which deals, in detail, with all aspects of the conduct of elections and post-election disputes. The Supreme Court of India has held that where the enacted laws are silent or make insufficient provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution to act in an appropriate manner.
From 1947 to 16 October 1989, there was one Chief Election Commissioner. From 1989 to 1 January 1990, there were two commissioners. In 1990 of January, two chief commissioners were abolished and election commission acted as a single-member body. Again by The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1993 made the Election Commission a multi-member body. On 1 October 1993, a further two commissioners were appointed. Decisions are made by majority vote.
Type of ElectionsEdit
Elections in the Republic of India include elections for :
- Members of the Parliament in Lok Sabha,
- Members of State Legislative Assembly,
- Members of the Parliament in Rajya Sabha, and for
- Members in local panchayat or city corporation council.
- By-election are held when a person of a particular constituent dies or resign.
General Elections (Lok sabha)Edit
Members of Lok Sabha (House of the People) or the lower house of India's Parliament are elected directly by voting, from a set of candidates who stand in their respective constituencies. Every adult citizen of India can vote only in their constituency. Candidates who win the Lok Sabha elections are called 'Member of Parliament' and hold their seats for five years or until the body is dissolved by the President on the advice of the council of ministers. The house meets in the Lok Sabha Chambers of the Sansad Bhavan in New Delhi, on matters relating to creation of new laws, removing or improving the existing laws that affect all citizens of India. This is the important election that takes place once in 5 years to elect 545 members for the Parliament (Lower house). Narendra Modi is the current prime minister of India.
State Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) ElectionsEdit
Members of State Legislative Assembly, are elected directly by voting, from a set of candidates who stands in their respective constituencies. Every adult citizen of India can vote only in their constituency. Candidates who win the State Legislative Assemblies elections are called 'Member of Legislative Assembly' and hold their seats for five years or until the body is dissolved by the Governor. The house meets in the respective state, on matters relating to creation of new laws, removing or improving the existing laws that affect all citizens living in that state.
Total strength of each assembly depends on each State, mostly based on size and population. Similar to Lok sabha elections, leader of the majority party/alliance takes oath as Chief Minister of the State.
Rajya Sabha (Upper House) ElectionsEdit
The Rajya Sabha, also known as the Council of States, is the upper house of India's Parliament. Candidates are not elected directly by the citizens, but by the Members of Legislative Assemblies and upto 12 can be nominated by the President of India for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. Members of the Parliament in Rajya Sabha get a tenure of six years, with one-third of the body facing re-election every two years. Rajya Sabha acts as a second-level review body before a bill becomes an act.
The Legislative proposals (making new laws, removing or appending new conditions to the existing law) are brought before either house of the Parliament in the form of a bill. A bill is the draft of a legislative proposal, which, when passed by both houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) and assented to by the President, becomes an Act of Parliament.
The Constitution of India however places some restrictions on the Rajya Sabha which makes the Lok Sabha more powerful in certain areas. For example, it stipulates that Money bills must originate in the Lok Sabha.
Members of Rajya Sabha debate bills sent by the Lok Sabha and can approve, reject or send the bill back to the Lok Sabha for further debate and discussion on the matter, as well as to suggest better changes in the drafted bill. Members of Rajya Sabha can only make recommendations to the Lok Sabha for money bills within 14 days. Even if Rajya Sabha fails to return the money bill in 14 days to the Lok Sabha, that bill is deemed to have passed by both the Houses. Also, if the Lok Sabha rejects any (or all) of the amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha, the bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses of Parliament of India in the form the Lok Sabha finally passes it.
Candidates are required to file their nomination papers with the Electoral Commission. Then, a list of candidates is published. No party is allowed to use government resources for campaigning. No party is allowed to bribe the candidates before elections. The government cannot start a project during the election period. Campaigning ends by 6:00 pm two days before the polling day.
The polling is held between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm. The Collector of each district is in charge of polling. Government employees are employed as poll officers at the polling stations. Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are being used instead of ballot boxes to prevent election fraud. After the citizen votes his or her left index finger is marked with an indelible ink. This practice was instituted in 1962.
Research into an indelible ink was commenced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). In the 1950s, M. L. Goel worked on this research at the Chemical Division of the National Physical Laboratory of India. The ink used contains silver nitrate, which makes it photo-sensitive. It is stored in amber coloured plastic or brown coloured glass bottles. On application, the ink remains on the fingernail for at least two days. It may last up to a month depending upon the person's body temperature and the environment.
BHAVIK (EVM) were first used in the 1997 election and became the only method of voting in 2004. The EVMs save time and report results. A voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) was introduced on 14 August 2014in Nagaland. In the 2014 general election, VVPAT was operational in 8 constituencies as a pilot project. These included Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram constituencies. A slip generated by the VVPT tells a voter to which party or candidate their vote has been given, their name, their constituency and their polling booth.. VVPAT has been in news recently (2017), following the demand of opposition parties to make it mandatory in the upcoming elections all over India due to allegations on the government of hacking the EVM.
Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and EVMs are now used in every assembly and general election in India. On 9 April 2019, Supreme Court of India gave the judgement, ordering the Election Commission of India to increase VVPAT slips vote count to five randomly selected EVMs per assembly constituency, which means Election Commission of India has to count VVPAT slips of 20,625 EVMs in 2019 General elections. For the voters, it is very important to know how the VVPAT works to enable them cross-check whether the vote they have given goes to the right candidate. Here is a brief " At the point when the voter presses the button against the name of the applicant of her/his decision on the EVM unit, the VVPAT unit produces a paper slip, additionally called 'ballot slip'. This paper slip contains the name, serial number, and image of the candidate selected by the voter for his vote. "
On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India judged that citizens have the right to a negative vote by exercising a "None of the above" (NOTA) option. This was the result of petitioning from the Electoral Commission and the People's Union for Civil Liberties from 2009. In November 2013, NOTA was introduced in five state elections.
India does not provide general absentee voting. On 24 November 2010, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2010 was gazetted to give voting rights to non-resident Indians but a physical presence at the voting booth is still required.
History of Lok Sabha ElectionsEdit
|Year||Election||Total seats||Party||Seats||% votes||Party||Seats||% votes||Party||Seats||% votes|
|1951-52||1st Lok Sabha||489||INC||364||45%||CPI||16||3.29%||SOC||12||10.59%|
|1957||2nd Lok Sabha||494||INC||371||47.78%||CPI||27||8.92%||PSP||19||10.41%|
|1962||3rd Lok Sabha||494||INC||361||44.72%||CPI||29||9.94%||SWA||18||7.89%|
|1967||4th Lok Sabha||520||INC||283||40.78%||SWA||44||8.67%||BJS||35||9.31%|
|1971||5th Lok Sabha||518||INC||352||43.68%||CPM||25||5.12%||CPI||23||4.73%|
|1977||6th Lok Sabha||542||JP||298||43.17%||INC||153||34.52%||CPM||22||4.29%|
|1980||7th Lok Sabha||529 ( 542* )||INC(I)||351||42.69%||JNP(S)||41||9.39%||CPM||37||6.24%|
|1984||8th Lok Sabha||514||INC||404||49.10%||TDP||30||4.31%||CPM||22||5.87%|
|1989||9th Lok Sabha||529||INC||195||39.53%||JD||142||17.79%||BJP||89||11.36%|
|1991||10th Lok Sabha||521||INC||244||35.66%||BJP||120||20.11%||JD||59||11.84%|
|1996||11th Lok Sabha||543||BJP||161||20.29%||INC||140||28.80%||JD||46||23.45%|
|1998||12th Lok Sabha||545||BJP||182||25.59%||INC||141||25.82%||CPM||32||5.16%|
|1999||13th Lok Sabha||545||BJP||182||23.75%||INC||114||28.30%||CPM||33||5.40%|
|2004||14th Lok Sabha||543||INC||145||26.53%||BJP||138||22.16%||CPM||43||5.66%|
|2009||15th Lok Sabha||545||INC||206||28.55%||BJP||116||18.80%||SP||23||3.23%|
|2014||16th Lok Sabha||545||BJP||282||31.34%||INC||44||19.52%||AIADMK||37||3.31%|
|2019||17th Lok Sabha||545||tbc||tbc||tbc||tbc||tbc||tbc||tbc||tbc||tbc|
* : 12 seats in Assam and 1 in Meghalaya did not vote.
- AAP - Aam Adami Party
- AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
- BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party
- BJD - Biju Janata Dal
- BJS - Bharatiya Jana Sangh
- BLD - Bharatiya Lok Dal
- BSP - Bahujan Samaj Party
- CPI - Communist Party of India
- CPM - Communist Party of India (Marxist)
- DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
- INC - Indian National Congress
- INC(I) - Indian National Congress (Indira)
- JD - Janata Dal
- JNP(S) - Janata Party (Secular)
- JP - Janata Party
- PSP - Praja Socialist Party
- RLD - Rashtriya Lok Dal
- SOC - Socialist Party
- SP - Samajwadi Party
- SWA - Swatantra Party
- TRS - Telangana Rashtra Samithi
- TDP - Telugu Desam Party
- 49-O Now replaced with 'NOTA (None of The Above)'
- Legislative Assembly elections in India
- Election Commission of India
- Booth capturing
- British India - General Elections
- British India - Provincial Elections
- Sharma 2007, p. 31.
- Sharma 2007, p. 138.
- Gledhill 1970, p. 112.
- Sharma 1950.
- Sharma 2007, p. 162.
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