Parliamentary Chamber: Lok Sabha


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  Lok Sabha

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  27 April 1996
30 May 1996

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the popularly chosen seats of the Lok Sabha on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.

Background and outcome of elections:

  The dates of the 1996 general elections were announced on 19 March, with voting to be staggered by region to ensure proper deployment of security forces. Polling in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, where Muslim rebels are waging a separatist insurgency, was scheduled at the end of the month-long period.

For the 543 elective Lok Sabha seats at stake, the ruling Indian National Congress party of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao was mainly challenged, on the one hand, by the second-placed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its allies and, on the other hand, by a broad United Front coalition comprising the Left Front and the Janata Dal (JD). During the three-week campaign, Prime Minister Rao pointed to the economic reforms and gains achieved during his five-year Administration, the threat to these if the opposition took over, and accused the BJP of fomenting religious divisions. Led by Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, the right-wing BJP, for its part, advocated Hindu cultural nationalism, favoured restrictions on foreign investment and called for an independent nuclear weapons policy, free from Western pressure. The Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) of Mr. Jyoti Basu and the centrist, low-caste JD of Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav diverged in their views, especially on economic reform, mirroring the mosaic of their 14-party alliance. Altogether 13,952 candidates were in contention: 10,635 independents and 3,317 fielded by eight national and 39 regional parties.

The first polling day was generally peaceful nation-wide, marked by sporadic violence, and saw a relatively high turnout by one of the world's largest electorates. Of the 150 seats then at stake, the majority were captured by the BJP grouping. This pattern continued subsequently but, in the final analysis, no simple party or alliance secured the absolute majority of 272 seats. The overall outcome resulted in a "hung" and unprecedently fragmented Parliament, its members representing a vast array of castes, regions and languages. Analysts attributed the heavy losses of the Congress in no small part to the party's corruption-tainted and worn image after years in power.

On 16 May, Mr. Vajpayee became Prime Minister at the head of a BJP-led Government only to resign 13 days later, yielding to Mr. Deve Gowda of JD and a United Front coalition Government. On 1 June, Mr. Gowda was sworn in as Prime Minister and head of a 21-member Cabinet.

Round no 1 (27 April 1996): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 592,572,288
Voters 343,308,035 (57.94%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 8,434,749
Valid votes 334,873,286

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 161
Indian National Congress 140
Janata Dal (JD) 46
Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) 32
Tamil Manila Congress (TMC) 20
Samajwadi (Socialist) Party 17
Dravid Progressive Federation (DMK) 17
Telugu Desam (N) 16
Shiv Sena 15
Communist Party of India (CPI) 12
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 11
Samata Party 8
Akali Dal 8
Independents 9
Others 31

  Excluding two appointed seats

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 501
Women: 39

Distribution of seats according to age:  
Under 31 years 40
31-40 years 139
41-50 years 151
51-60 years 117
61-70 years 64
Over 70 years 6

Distribution of seats according to profession:

Agriculturists/ horticulturists 205
Political or social workers 101
Lawyers 66
Teachers 42
Businessmen 31
Medical practitioners 16
Traders/ industrialists 15
Civil/military/police services 13
Engineers/ technologists 9
Journalists/ writers 8
Artists/ film industry 7
Others 14

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Copyright 1996 Inter-Parliamentary Union