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India is a federation with a parliamentary system governed under the Constitution of India, which defines the power distribution between the union, or central, government and the states.

The President of India is the ceremonial head of state,[1] who is elected indirectly for a five-year term by an electoral college comprising members of national and state legislatures.[2][3]

The Prime Minister of India is the head of government and exercises most executive power.[4] Appointed by the president,[5] 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.[4]


Election CommissionEdit

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.[6]

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 :

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.

State Assembly election results (Vidhan Sabha)
2015 2016 2017
2013 2011 2012
2008 2006 2007
2003 2001 2002
1998 1996 1996
1993 1991 1993
1952 1989 1991
1984 1989
1980 1985
1977 1980
1971 1977
1967 1974
1962 1969
1957 1967
1952 1962

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.[7]

The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who presides over its sessions.

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.

Electoral proceduresEdit

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.

Indelible inkEdit

Ink used in Indian elections
Ink bottle pledge

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.

Electronic votingEdit

Voting machine

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.[8] In the 2014 general election, VVPAT was operational in 8 constituencies as a pilot project.[9][10][11][12] These included Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram constituencies.[13][14][15][16][17][18] 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.[19][20][21][22][23]. 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.[24][25] 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.[26][27][28] 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.[29]

Absentee votingEdit

India does not provide general absentee voting.[30][31][32] 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.[33][34][35][36]

History of Lok Sabha ElectionsEdit

First Second Third
Year Election Total seats Party Seats % votes Party Seats % votes Party Seats % votes
1951-52[37][38][39] 1st Lok Sabha 489 INC 364 45% CPI 16 3.29% SOC 12 10.59%
1957[40] 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.[41]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sharma 2007, p. 31.
  2. ^ Sharma 2007, p. 138.
  3. ^ Gledhill 1970, p. 112.
  4. ^ a b Sharma 1950.
  5. ^ Sharma 2007, p. 162.
  6. ^ "A Constitutional Body". Election Commission of India.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Rajya Sabha Election 2017: Here Is How Members Are Elected To Upper House". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  8. ^ "EC Decides to use VVPAT System at Bye-Election in Nagaland" (Press release). Press Information Bureau. 17 August 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  9. ^ "EVM-paper trail introduced in 8 of 543 constituencies". dna. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  10. ^ Press Trust of India (29 April 2014). "LS polls: Voters to get 'automated-receipts' at Gandhinagar". Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  11. ^ Staff Reporter. "VVPAT machine to be on demonstration for 10 days". The Hindu. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  12. ^ "VVPAT to be introduced in Jadavpur constituency". Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  13. ^ "VVPAT, a revolutionary step in voting transparency". DNA. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  14. ^ Patna Sahib electorate can see who they voted for - The Times of India
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ 400 EVMs on standby for Patna Sahib, Pataliputra
  17. ^ "VVPAT to Debut in B'lore South". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  18. ^ T. Ramakrishnan. "Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail system comes to Chennai". The Hindu. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  19. ^ "Not many were aware of VVPAT, but were happy with verification". The Hindu. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  20. ^ "Safe distance". The Indian Express. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  21. ^ "As smooth as it gets, says city poll chief". The Times of India. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  22. ^ Ripon Buildings turns nerve centre of electoral activities in Chennai
  23. ^ "Voter's verifiable paper audit trail system to be introduced in Chennai Central constituency". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 1 April 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  24. ^ "EC announces Lok Sabha election dates: VVPATs, to be used in all polling stations, help bring more accuracy in voting".
  25. ^ "What are EVMs, VVPAT and how safe they are". The Times of India. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  26. ^ "Count VVPAT slips of 5 booths in each assembly seat: SC".
  27. ^ "SC Directs ECI To Increase VVPAT Verification From One EVM To Five EVMs Per Constituency".
  28. ^ "When the SC Says No for Software Audit Review of EVMs & VVPAT at Present".
  29. ^ "ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA : Press release" (PDF). Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  30. ^ "Who can vote by postal ballot?". The Economic Times. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  31. ^ "Election Commission to ensure postal votes don't get invalid". dna. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  32. ^ "Pranab to become first president to cast vote via postal ballot". Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  33. ^ "gazette notifications". 24 November 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  34. ^ "Petition for Absentee Voting in Indian Elections". Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  35. ^ "Non-Resident Indians Voting rights in the upcoming general elections". 8 December 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  36. ^ "People for Lok Satta- NRI voting campaign". 9 January 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  37. ^ "Lok Sabha Results 1951-52". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  38. ^ "Statistical Report on Lok Sabha Elections 1951-52" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  39. ^ "Lok Sabha Elections Stats Summary 1951-52" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  40. ^ "Statistical Report on Lok Sabha Elections 1957". Election Commission of India.
  41. ^ "Seventh Lok Sabha elections (1980)". Indian Express. Indian Express. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.

External linksEdit