Elections in India
The 2014 general election involved an electorate of 863,500,000 people. It was conducted in nine stages. The expenditure for the 2014 election was approximately 37.5 crore (about $300 million). The cost per voter was Rs 17. Votes were made using over one million electronic voting machines. In the 2014 election, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. The BJP secured a majority of 282 seats. Narendra Modi of the BJP became Prime Minister of India.
India's government is based on Federalism. Elected officials are appointed at federal, state and local levels. In India, there is universal suffrage. Results of elections are determined by first-past-the-post system. Elections are conducted by the Election Commission of India.
The Prime Minister of India, is elected by members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. The Constitution of India allows for up to 552 members in the Lok Sabha. Up to 530 members represent the States. Up to 20 members represent the Union Territories. In practice, 543 members of the Lok Sabha are elected every five years. Two members are elected by the President of India to represent the Anglo-Indian community.
In 1952, there were 1874 candidates vying for places in the Lok Sabha. In 1996, this number rose to 13952 candidates. in 2009, there were only 8070 candidates. The number of votes and seats won provides a ranking of the major political parties.
The Rajya Sabha is the upper house of parliament. Its 250 members are elected indirectly by the legislative assemblies of the states and the Electoral College of the Union Territories. 238 members are elected for a six-year term. Every two years, one third of the members retire. The elected members are chosen by proportional representation via the single transferable vote. There are twelve nominated members who are usually an eclectic mix of eminent artists (including actors), scientists, jurists, sportsmen and women, businessmen, journalists and other citizens.
|Year||Election||Total seats||Party||Seats||% votes||Party||Seats||% votes||Party||Seats||% votes|
|1951-52 ||1st Lok Sabha||489||INC||364||44.99%||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||330||41.32%||INC||154||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||49.01%||TDP||30||4.31%||CPM||22||5.87%|
|1989||9th Lok Sabha||529||INC||197||39.53%||JD||143||17.79%||BJP||85||11.36%|
|1991||10th Lok Sabha||521||INC||232||36.26%||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%|
* : 12 seats in Assam and 1 in Meghalaya did not vote.
- AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
- BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party
- BJS - Bharatiya Jana Sangh
- BLD - Bharatiya Lok Dal
- 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
- TDP - Telugu Desam Party
Indian political partiesEdit
From 1947 to 1964, the Indian National Congress was India's dominant political party. It was led by Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964), K Kamaraj (1903 – 1975) and then Lal Bahadur Shastri (1905 – 1966). In the 1970s, the Congress party splintered. Indira Gandhi then led the party to election victory. In 1977, the Congress party lost to an opposition coalition that represented voters opposed to India's state of emergency which had been imposed in 1975. Indira Gandhi regained power but was assassinated in 1984. After her death, her son, Rajiv Gandhi (1941 – 1991) led the party. In 1989, the Congress party lost to a coalition led by VP Singh (1931 – 2008) after Rajiv Gandhi was accused of corruption. In 1990, the Congress party returned to power, led by P V Narasimha Rao (1921 – 2004).
In 1996, a coalition government was formed, mostly from regional parties. Further coalition governments followed, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I K Gujral and H D Deve Gowda. In 1999, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power and completed a full term. For the next decade, the United Progressive Alliance led by the Indian National Congress party formed government under Manmohan Singh.
Parties with strong traditional regional bases include the Telugu Desam Party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. In the 1990s, new regional parties emerged including the Indian National Lok Dal, Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Janata Dal. Such parties may promote regional aspirations such as Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Shiv Sena or caste considerations as in the case of the Bahujan Samaj Party.
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous entity proscribed 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 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. 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.
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 at 6:00 pm on the second last day 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 (EVMs) are being used instead of ballot boxes to prevent election fraud. After a 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 and so, is 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.
Electronic voting machines (EVM) were first used in the 1999 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 2013. The first election to implement the VVPAT was a by-election in the Noksen assembly constituency in 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 EVM tells voter to which party or candidate their vote has been given, their name, their constituency and their polling booth.
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 present at the voting booth is still required.
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