Elections in India – An Introduction
- We all know that we got our independence on 15th August 1947, but not many people would know about the general elections that were held after our independence.
- Just after independence, there was a pressing need for elections so that the people could elect a truly representative government for the country.
- Article 324, which warrants the setting up of an election commission as an independent constitutional authority, was therefore brought into force on 26th November 1949.
- Most of the other provisions were rendered effective after 26th January 1950.
Elections in India – Election Commission of India
So one can say that elections in India plummeted out of the election commission of India, which was a turning point in India’s history. The election commission was formally constituted on 25th January 1950 – just a day before India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic. The next step was the appointment of the chief election commissioner. It was on 21st March 1950, that Shri Sukumar Sen was appointed as the first Chief Election Commissioner of free India. Given below is a schematic representation of the evolution of the election commission of India.
General Elections in India
- Once the election commission was set up, the President of India issued the first delimitation order for the first general elections to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas.
- This was done in consultation with the newly formed election commission.
- To provide a legal framework for the conduct of elections, the parliament of India passed the Representation of the People Act on 12th May 1950.
- In the very next year, the parliament of India passed as second Representation of the People Act on17th July 1951.
- Both these Acts provided the procedures for the conduct of elections to both – Houses of Parliament and Vidhan Sabha for each state.
First General Elections in India – The Mega Event
Between the years 1951 and 1952, the first General Elections to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas were held in India. The first Lok Sabha was constituted on 2nd April 1952 and consisted of 497 members. The first Rajya Sabha was constituted on 3rd April 1952 and consisted of 216 members.
Here are some numbers and facts that may interest you –
- First General Elections were held for 489 seats
- Total number of eligible voters during this election was approximately 17.3 crore
- The Indian National Congress won 364
- There were only two parties that won double-digit seats
- CPI won 16 seats
- Socialist Party won 12 seats
- The Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) won only 3 seats
- The first prime minister was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
After the first General Elections, the Presidential elections were held in the month of May 1952. On May 13th, 1952, the first elected president assumed charge of the office. During the first General Elections, the election commission of India recognized 39 parties as state parties and 14 political parties as multi-state parties. Currently, there are 40 state parties and 7 recognized national parties.
In the first and second General Elections, the Election Commission adopted the Balloting System of voting. From the third General Elections, which were held in 1962; and thereafter, the marking system of voting was adopted. Currently, the Election Commission has adopted the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for voting. EVMs were first used on an experimental basis for the Parur Assembly Constituency in Kerala in 1982.