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Countdown to May 23: A recap of India's tryst with Lok Sabha election

As India awaits its 17th Lok Sabha, India TV brings to you a rundown of how India has been ruled in 72 years since Independence.

Sidhant Mamtany Written by: Sidhant Mamtany @SidMamtany New Delhi Updated on: May 16, 2019 23:26 IST
Countdown to May 23: A brief recap of India's tryst with

Countdown to May 23: A brief recap of India's tryst with Lok Sabha polls

India is awaiting a new government at the Centre and the 17th Lok Sabha in Parliament.

Indian general election has traditionally been a true showcase of democracy -- where people from all strata of society, castes, creeds, colours, and religions come together and vote for one single motive --India.

India held its first general election in 1952 and till date, it is the people's mandate that has, in a mere 72 years, taken the nation to a place where its culture and values are celebrated across the world.

India TV brings to you a rundown of how political leaders from various constituencies represented India and formed 16 Lok Sabhas in the largest democracy of the world.

Let us start with the partition -- in the year 1947. 

India Tv - Indian Constituent Assembly 

Indian Constituent Assembly 

The partition gave India Pakistan -- an enemy for years to come. It also gave India Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru -- India's first prime minister.

Pt Nehru, fondly remembered as Chacha Nehru, strived and thrived to take India back to a position it once enjoyed -- sone ki chidiya.

The British had then just quit India, leaving the nation suffering from poverty, and malices of different nature.


First Lok Sabha: 1952 - 1957

India Tv - Jawaharlal Nehru 

Jawaharlal Nehru 

The first Lok Sabha came in the aftermath of the first general election in India.

The total number of seats in the first ever Lok Sabha was 489. The Congress party swept the election with 367 seats. 

The dominance was such that the next best were the independents whose total of 37 was hardly 10 per cent of Congress’ 367. In total, Congress secured 45 per cent of the votes and 76 per cent of the contested seats. 

And so with a massive majority, Jawahar Lal Nehru became the prime minister for the second time -- and India’s first elected prime minister.

The first Lok Sabha saw the formal accession of Jammu and Kashmir into India; Jammu and Kashmir Assembly later approved its own Constitution modelled on the lines of India's. 

The first Lok Sabha also saw the nationalisation of India insurance sector and the establishment of Life Insurance Company. It also saw the passing away of the father of the Constitution of India, Dr BR Ambedkar.


Second Lok Sabha: 1957 - 1962

India Tv - Prime Minister Nehru with United States President John F Kennedy 

Prime Minister Nehru with United States President John F Kennedy 

The Congress party built on the 367 seats it got in 1952 -- by securing 371. 

The Communist Party of India came second with 27 seats.

Pt Nehru was announced as the prime minister again -- three times in a row.

This Lok Sabha witnessed the war of 1962 on the Eastern front where China attacked India. 

Pt Nehru, who had been a harbinger of peace between India and China with monikers like ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’, was taken aback when Beijing surreptitiously marched towards New Delhi.


Third Lok Sabha: 1962 - 1967

India Tv - Lal Bahadur Shastri

Lal Bahadur Shastri

The Congress party maintained its dominance on India’s political landscape by landing 361 seats in the third general election of Independent India. 

Jawahar Lal Nehru retained his office for another term.

With less than two months into his tenure, Jawahar Lal Nehru passed away. 

Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded him as the prime minister.

The third Lok Sabha was a troubled time for India. The people had not forgot the horrors of the 1962 war with China when another war was forced on the country. This time on the Western front by Pakistan.

The story of the war, however, was different as the Indian Army thumped the Pakistani Army on its own soil.

But just as the country thought things were getting better, Prime Minister Shastri tragically died in an air crash on his way back from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then a part of Soviet Union.

Shastri's visit to Tashkent and his tragic death still amount to a humongous controversy in Indian history. 

Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawahar Lal Nehru, then became the prime minister of India. 


Fourth Lok Sabha: 1967 - 1971

India Tv - The Iron Lady Indira Gandhi

The Iron Lady Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi retained the office in the fourth Lok Sabha as Congress won with 283 seats and continued its dominance. 

This election saw the emergence of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a political arm of the RSS (the ideological parent of the present day Bharatiya Janata Party).


Fifth Lok Sabha: 1971 - 1977

India Tv - Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi

The Congress party continued its dominance for the fifth consecutive election by winning 352 seats in 1971 and Indira Gandhi, the sitting prime minister, retained her office.

Indira Gandhi came to be known as the Iron Lady in her second term. It was in her tenure that India fought the third war with Pakistan in 1971 over the liberation of Bangladesh. 

The Indian Army entered Bangladesh and defeated the Pakistani Army -- which surrendered with its 90,000 troops in mere 13 days. This sort of public surrender was almost unheard of till then.

Year 1974 saw India detonate its first nuclear device in Pokhran, Rajasthan.

Indira Gandhi ventured into murky waters when in 1975, in perhaps the darkest hour of Indian democracy, she declared a state of emergency after being found guilty of electoral malpractice.

Nearly 1,000 political workers including leaders and activists were imprisoned. This period also saw the introduction of the programme of compulsory birth control.

Consequently, the polls (state as well as general) were postponded.


Sixth Lok Sabha: 1977 - 1981

India Tv - Morarji Desai

Morarji Desai


Congress, owing to the emergency, faced a defeat at the hands of the Janata Party. 

The Janata Party later came to be known as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The party won 295 seats in the election held in 1977 -- becoming only the second party after Indian National Congress to win the election in India.

Morarji Desai became the first ‘non-Congress’ prime minister of India. He remained in chair till 1979 -- following which the Janata Party split and Chaudhary Charan Singh became the prime minister.


Seventh Lok Sabha: 1981 - 1984

India Tv - Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi

The Indian National Congress made a strong comeback in 1981 winning 377 seats -- more than they had ever won in a single election before. Indira Gandhi became the prime minister for the third time.

Indira Gandhi’s third stint as the prime minister was another controversial affair. Militancy in Punjab had then been on an increase and Congress’ initial support to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the Sikh saint-turned-militant, made it even worse. 

In 1984, Indira Gandhi directed the Indian Army to enter the Golden Temple and take out Bhindranwale -- known as Operation Bluestar.

Thousands of lives were lost; soldiers and civilians were killed in action.

The aftermath of the operation saw Indira Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of two of her own Sikh guards, which then resulted in riots in Punjab and Delhi leaving hundreds and thousands of innocent Sikhs dead.

After her assassination, her son, Rajiv Gandhi took the reins of the nation.


Eight Lok Sabha: 1984 - 1989

India Tv - Rajiv Gandhi

Rajiv Gandhi


In the general election in 1984, the Indian National Congress improved on its earlier tallies by securing 426 seats. 

Rajiv Gandhi, the then incumbent prime minister, retained his office.

During his tenure, there was unrest in Sri Lanka because of the LTTE. Rajiv Gandhi decided to deploy Indian Army troops as peace-keeping force in Sri Lanka to help the country come out of their ethnic conflict in 1987.

Year 1988 saw the establishment of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The unrest in Sri Lanka permeated to South India resulting in people losing faith in the Rajiv Gandhi government. He later resigned from his post of the prime minister. 

The Bofors scam was one of the biggest under Rajiv Gandhi’s rule. The scandal relates to illegal kickbacks paid in a US$1.4 billion deal between the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors with the government of India for the sale of 410 field howitzer guns, and a supply contract almost twice that amount. Investigation revealed flouting of rules and bypassing of institutions -- something that continues to ail the Indian National Congress till date.


Ninth Lok Sabha: 1989 - 1991

India Tv - Vishwanath Pratap Singh

Vishwanath Pratap Singh

The ninth Lok Sabha saw Congress lose to a coalition of parties even after it came out as the single largest party, corresponding to the number of seats, with 195. The coalition of parties included the Janata Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party, Telegu Desam Party, etc.

Vishwanath Pratap Singh of the Janata Dal became the seventh prime minister of India. His stint was short as Chandra Shekhar, with the help of the Congress party, became the prime minister.

Chandra Shekhar also lasted only seven months in office. He had to resign.

Year 1990 witnessed the dawn of armed militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a human bomb in the year, 1991, when he was on a visit to Tamil Nadu.

Several LTTE activists were arrested following the assassination.


Tenth Lok Sabha: 1991 - 1996

India Tv - PV Narsimha Rao

PV Narsimha Rao

The Indian National Congress won the election in 1991 and PV Narsimha Rao became the prime minister of the country.

Narsimha Rao's tenure saw a massive unrest in the form of demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The incident triggered a widespread Hindi-Muslim conflict and the Ram mandir debate -- that continues to ail Indian politics to date. 


Eleventh Lok Sabha: 1996 - 1998

India Tv - H D Deve Gowda

H D Deve Gowda

In the general election in 1996, the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single largest party with 161 seats followed by Congress with 140 seats and HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal with 46 seats.

BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was asked to form the government. He had to give up after 13 days, as he was unable to garner the support required to run the affairs of the country.

HD Deve Gowda then became the prime minister; and the Janata Dal formed a 'United Front’.

Congress later withdrew support from the United Front and IK Gujral was made the prime minister.

Gujral's tenure also did not last long and another election was called for.


Twelfth Lok Sabha: 1998 - 1999

India Tv - Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

This Lok Sabha election also missed a clear mandate and there was no single largest party that could register two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The BJP was then asked to form the government. Atal Bihari Vajpayee again became the prime minister. 

Vajpayee's government, however, fell to its face again -- this time after 13 months.

The then president of the nation, Kocheril Raman Narayanan, asked then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to form the government. But she responded in negative.

The President was left with no option but to dissolve the house and call for re-election in 1999.

In his 13 months in power, Vajpayee had conducted five nuclear underground tests in the Pokhran range. To this, Pakistan responded with conducting six nuclear tests. 

And thus, the nuclear arms race in South Asia began. 


Thirteenth Lok Sabha: 1999 - 2004

India Tv - Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee


The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the general election of 1999 and under the name of the ‘National Democratic Alliance’, it,  formed a government.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee's term lasted five years.

Year 1999 proved to be another crucial year as Vajpayee made a bus trip to Lahore and met then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The two countries finally looked set to be going in the direction of peace.

Pakistan Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf though had different ideas. 

The Pakistani Army, in a planned operation, sent Mujahideens to invade the Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir. These Mujahideens then took to the Kargil heights and an armed conflict ensued.

This incident derailed the peace process initiated by Vajpayee.

There was a military coup in Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf took control of the country. He later came to Agra to meet with Prime Minister Vajpayee.

In 2001, the Indian Parliament was attacked.

Gujarat, in 2002, faced one of the worst riots in the history of India. The burning of a train in Godhra on February 27, 2002, which caused the deaths of 58 Hindu pilgrims karsevaks returning from Ayodhya, is cited as having instigated the violence. The inter-communal violence was followed by further outbreaks of violence in Ahmedabad for three months; statewide, there were further outbreaks of violence against the minority Muslim population for the next year. The then chief minister of the state, Narendra Modi, was widely held responsible for the entire turn of events.


Fourteenth Lok Sabha: 2004 - 2009

India Tv - Dr Manmohan Singh

Dr Manmohan Singh

Congress came back to power in 2004, just when it seemed impossible to defeat Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Indian National Congress won 141 seats and the United Progressive Alliance was formed to rule the nation.

Dr Manmohan Singh was elected as the prime minister. 

According to Khurshid Kasuri, who served as the foreign minister to General Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, Islamabad and New Delhi made real breakthroughs in bilateral relations with the back channel diplomacy.

India signed a nuclear deal with the United States in 2006.

India recorded its strongest economic growth figures ever with 9.4 per cent growth.

The peace process with Pakistan suffered a major halt when, on November 26, 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba bombed the city of Mumbai (then called Bombay). 


Fifteenth Lok Sabha: 2009 - 2014

India Tv - Dr Manmohan Singh

Dr Manmohan Singh

Dr Manmohan Singh retained his office, and became one of the few prime ministers to have kept power for consecutive terms.

The UPA-II government hit headlines due to several scams that came to light.

The UPA-II government faced the most opposition in the house in the history of India’s parliament. 

‘Scams’ were the most frequent reason for house disruption during the Lok Sabha sessions, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of Lok Sabha records of session proceedings.

Scams related to financial irregularities in the Commonwealth Games, coal block distribution and 2G spectrum sale; inflation; and the Lokpal Bill (to create an anti-corruption ombudsman) were the top reasons.


Sixteenth Lok Sabha: 2014 -- to date

India Tv - Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The certain dissatisfaction that had crept in by the end of the UPA-II tenure led to the emergence of 'Modi' wave.

The BJP, by itself, crossed the magical number of 272 as Narendra Modi charmed his way through all sects of India.

PM Modi made quite a few promises and launched demonetisation of high-end Indian currency notes in a bid to completely remove black money from the economy.

The Modi government also put in place the Goods and Services Tax, much to the chagrin of small-scale traders.

Modi's five-year reign will be majorly remembered for his overseas trips -- primarily to countries where no other Indian prime minister had made a mark.

Modi visited United States, Argentina, Israel and Russia, among other countries. He also met the then Pakistan prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in Lahore.

His 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' was a major success too.

Under Modi, India also saw a wave of Hindu nationalism, which triggered protests from various quarters and in various forms.

So much so, that for the first time in Indian history, the entire Opposition has come together to fight against one force -- PM Modi. Their basic aim, they say, is to oust the BJP and PM Modi from power.

The Opposition, led by the Congress, has also often raked up the Rafale fighter jet deal -- related to the purchase of 36 multirole fighter aircraft for a price estimated at €7.8 billion by the Defence Ministry of India from France's Dassault Aviation.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has been accusing Modi of colluding with Reliance Defence's Anil Ambani and denigrating the deal with HAL.

Under Modi, India, however, scored at the defence level -- by conducting surgical strike into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and an airstrike in Balakot.

The surgical strike was conducted in September, 2016 in retaliation to the attack by the Pakistan Army in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri. The Balakot airstrike was in response to the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, 2019 -- that took the lives of over 40 CRPF personnel.

To this end, the BJP claimed India had progressed to becoming a nation that believed in giving tit for tat, under Modi.

The Opposition questioned this too and asked for proof of the airstrike.

The BJP has been using this as a poll plank in the run up to May 23 -- the day of result of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

The political climate, hence, is heating up and even the best of pundits are falling short of opinions and judgments on who finally is going to win the mandate.

Patience holds the key!


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