Looking back at past general elections: 1952-2004

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1952 elections
The Congress had won 364 out of 489 Lok Sabha seats in the first-ever general election held in India. Its vote share was 45 per cent. The CPI was the second party with just 16 seats. Jawaharlal Nehru became the prime minister, the first of independent India. Total electors in this election was 23,70,41,443 while total number of votes polled was 16,02,75,056. The voters' turnout was 67.6 per cent. Nehru himself won from Phulpur constituency. Fifty-four parties had contested in this election.

Fact: Noted leader B R Ambedkar was defeated from Bombay constituency in this election.

1957 elections
The Congress had won 371 out of 494 seats in this election. Its vote-share rose to 47.8 per cent. The CPI was the second party with 27 seats. Nehru returned to power for the second successive term. Total electors in this election was 26,52,41,358 total number of votes polled was 18,20,75,041. The voters' turnout was 68.6 per cent. Sixteen parties had contested in this election.

Fact: This election saw the rise of Feroz Gandhi, the husband of Indira Gandhi, who won with a comfortable margin from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh.

1962 elections
The Congress made a hat-trick by winning 361 out of 494 seats. The party's vote-share was 44.7 per cent. The CPI's tally touched 29 this time. Total electors in this election was 21,63,61,569 total number of votes polled was 11,98,96,443. The voters' turnout was 55.4 per cent, a fall of around 13.1 per cent. Twenty-eight parties had contested in this election.

Fact: India lost two prime ministers in quick succession during this time. While Nehru passed away in May 1964, his successor Lal Bahadur Shastri died in January 1966.

1967 elections
The Congress continued with its dominance in the elections, although reduced, and returned to power for the fourth successive term. The party won 283 out of 520 seats (less by 83 seats compared to 1962). Its vote-share was 40.8 per cent. Indira Gandhi became the prime minister after this election. The Swatantra Party was the second party with 44 seats. Total electors in this election was 25,02,07,401 total number of votes polled was 15,26,97,161. The voters' turnout was 61 per cent, a decent rise from that of 1962. Twenty-six parties had contested in this election.

Fact: The Congress party saw a fragmentation between Congress (O) and Congress (I) during this term.

1971 elections

This was the first mid-term election in the history of independent India. The Congress won 352 out of 518 seats and formed its fifth successive government at the Centre. The party's vote share was 43.7 per cent. The CPI(M) was the second party with 29 seats. The Congress(O) won 16 seats. Total electors in this election was 27,41,89,132 total number of votes polled was 15,15,36,802. The voters' turnout was 55.3 per cent. Indira Gandhi won her second election and became the prime minister for the third term. Fifty-four parties had contested in this election.

Fact: The Congress won 352 seats, an increase by over 70 seats, riding on Indira Gandhi's Garibi Hatao campaign.

1977 elections
A historic election which saw the dethroning of the Congress after a long rule of 30 years. The preceding Emergency had played a major role in the defeat of Indira Gandhi. Both she and her son Sanjay Gandhi also lost from their seats. The Janata Alliance, which was a coalition of various anti-Congress(I) factions, formed the government after winning 345 out of 542 seats. The Bharatiya Lok Dal had won 295 seats while the Congress won a paltry 154 seats, 198 less than what it had won in 1971. The Congress's vote-share was reduced to below 35 per cent. Morarji Desai became the first non-Congress prime minister. Total electors in this election was 32,11,74,327 while total number of votes polled was 19,42,63,915. The voters' turnout was 60.5 per cent. Fifty-four parties had contested in this election.

Fact: The Janata government was soon hit by internal rift and could not complete its full term, leading to another election within three years.

1980 elections
Indira Gandhi returned as the prime minister for the fourth time after yet another mid-term election. The Congress won 353 out of 542 seats while the Janata Party (Secular) was the second party with 41 seats. The Congress's vote-share was nearly 43 per cent. Total electors in this election was 35,62,05,329 while total number of votes polled was 20,27,52,893. The voters' turnout was 56.9 per cent. Thirty-eight parties had contested in this election.

Fact: Charan Singh, who was sworn in as the prime minister in June 1979, called the election in January 1980 after the Congress refused to keep its promise of backing him. Singh remains the only PM who never faced the parliament.

1984 elections

They were called after the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated on October 31, 1984. The Congress rode a massive sympathy vote to finish with 415 seats, the highest ever since independence, and Rajiv Gandhi, the son of Indira Gandhi, became the prime minister. The Congress's vote-share was 48.1 per cent. The Telugu Desam Party finished a distant second with 30 seats. Total electors in this election was 40,03,75,333 while total number of votes polled was 25,62,94,963. The voters' turnout was 64 per cent. A total of 37 parties had contested the polls.

Fact: TDP became the first regional party to become a national opposition party.

1989 elections
The second non-Congress government gad come to power after the 1989 elections. Rajiv Gandhi's Congress suffered serious adverses in this election, thanks to the Bofors scam, and the party's tally went down to 197. Vishwanath Pratap Singh became the prime minister of the National Front government led by Janata Dal with 143 seats. The vote-share of the Congress and Janata Dal were 39.5 and 17.8 per cents, respectively. The BJP had supported the VP Singh government from outside. Total electors in this election was 49,89,06,129 while total number of votes polled was 30,90,50,495. The voters' turnout was 61.9 per cent. A total of 115 parties had contested the polls.

Fact: It was the only time that the BJP extended support to a third-front government.

1991 elections
The Congress returned to power after a short stint of Chandra Sekhar as the prime minister, but far away from its dominance, it headed a minority government with PV Narasimha Rao as its prime minister. The Congress got 244 out of 545 seats and gathered 36.4 per cent of the votes polled. The BJP finished second with 120 seats, the first time ever that it had crossed the three-figure mark while its vote-share was 20 per cent. Total electors in this election was 51,15,33,598 while total number of votes polled was 28,58,56,465. The voters' turnout was 55.9 per cent. One-hundred and forty-seven parties had contested the polls.

Fact: Narasimha Rao, the first-ever non-Gandhi prime minister, saw two important events happning during his stay in office. One was the liberalisation of the Indian economy and the other was the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992.

1996 elections
These elections saw a hung parliament. The BJP, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was the largest party with 161 seats (vote share 20.3 per cent) but he could not prove majority in the Lok Sabha and resigned after serving just 13 days as the PM. The Congress was the second largest party with a paltry 140 seats (vote-share 28.3 per cent) but it declined to form a government. It instead chose to back a United Front government of the Janata Dal and other parties (192 seats with 28.52 per cent vote-share) and H D Deve Gowda took over as the prime minister. The Congress, however, withdrew support and the Deve Gowda government collapsed in April 1997.

A compromise was made and IK Gujral was elected the new Janata Dal prime minister but his government did not last long much after leaders of the 13-party United Front coalition rejected the Congress' demand to oust the DMK, and its three representatives in Gujral's cabinet, after a report said that it had a good relation with a Sri Lankan guerrilla group suspected of killing Rajiv Gandhi. Total electors in this election was 59,25,72,288 while total number of votes polled was 34,33,08,090. The voters' turnout was 57.9 per cent. Two-hundred and eleven parties had contested the polls.

Fact: The years between 1996-98 were periods of uncertainty in Indian politics. After Narasimha Rao's tenure ended in 1996, the country had to wait for another three years to see the beginning of next regime that lasted its full term.

1998 elections
The BJP had emerged as the largest party in these elections with 182 seats (25.6 per cent vote-share) while the Congress had managed just 141 seats (25.8 per cent vote-share). The BJP-led alliance called the National Democratic Alliance with 256 seats (out of 545 seats) and 37.5 per cent vote-share formed the government at the Centre under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The Congress-led UPA got 164 seats (30.8 per cent vote) while the Third Front got 74 seats. But the government fell short by a single ballot in the confidence vote in April 1999 after one of the NDA allies, AIADMK pulled out. Total electors in this election was 60,58,80,192 while total number of votes polled was 37,54,41,739. The voters' turnout was 62 per cent. One-hundred and seventy-eight parties had contested the polls.
Fact: After serving for 13 days, Vajpayee's second stint as the PM lasted for 13 months.

1999 elections

The BJP had emerged as the largest party again with 182 seats while the Congress's tally got reduced to 114. The BJP's vote-share this time was 23.8 per cent while that of the Congress was 28.3 per cent. Out of 543 seats, the NDA got 299 (41.1 per cent) while the UPA got 139 seats (35 per cent). The Third Front accumulated just 41 seats. Vajpayee returned as the PM for the third term and completed his term.

Total electors in this election was 61,95,36,847 while total number of votes polled was 37,16,69,104. The voters' turnout was 60 per cent. One-hundred and seventy-eight parties had contested the polls. One-hundred and seventy-one parties had contested the polls.

Fact: The BJP-led caretaker government gained from the Kargil War against Pakistan that year to come back to power.

2004 elections
The Congress-led UPA came to power after these elections and Manmohan Singh took over as the second non-Gandhi prime minister. The Congress won 145 seats (26.5 per cent) in this election while the UPA won 225 seats (vote-share 36.8 per cent) while the BJP won 138 seats (22.2 per cent vote-share) while the NDA won 189 seats (35.9 per cent).

The Third Front won 55 seats. Total electors in this election was 67,14,87,930 while total number of votes polled was 38,93,42,364. The voters' turnout was 58 per cent. One-hundred and seventy-eight parties had contested the polls. Two-hundred and seventeen parties had contested the polls.

Fact: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi refused to become the PM in 2004, saying it was a response to her inner call.

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