Indian general election, 1951
The Indian general election of 1951–52 elected the first Lok Sabha since India became independent in August 1947. Until this point, the Indian Constituent Assembly had served as an interim legislature. Polling was held between 25 October 1951 and 21 February 1952. The very first votes of the election were cast in the tehsil (district) of Chini in Himachal Pradesh.
The Indian National Congress (INC) won a landslide victory, winning 364 of the 489 seats and 45% of the total votes polled. This was over four times as many votes as the second-largest party. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the country. Voter turnout was 45.7%.
Before Independent India went to the polls, two former cabinet colleagues of Nehru established separate political parties to challenge the INC's supremacy. While Shyama Prasad Mookerjee went on to found the Jana Sangh in October 1951, Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar revived the Scheduled Castes Federation (which was later named the Republican Party). Other parties which started coming to the forefront included the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Parishad, whose prime mover was Acharya Kripalani; the Socialist Party which had Ram Manohar Lohia and Jay Prakash Narayan's leadership to boast of and the Communist Party of India. However, these smaller parties could not stand against Congress.
The first general elections, which were conducted for 489 seats in 401 constituencies, represented 26 Indian states. At that time, there were 314 constituencies with one seat, 86 with two seats and one with three seats. The multi-seat constituencies were abolished in the 1960s. There were also 2 nominated Anglo-Indian members.
Scheduled Caste leader and the creator of the constitution B. R. Ambedkar was defeated in the Bombay (North Central) constituency by a little-known Narayan Sadoba Kajrolkar, who polled 138137 votes compared to Ambedkar's 123576 votes.
The Speaker of the first Lok Sabha was Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar. The first Lok Sabha also witnessed 677 sittings (3,784 hours), the highest recorded count of the number of sittings. The Lok Sabha lasted its full term from 17 April 1952 until 4 April 1957.
Although the majority of votes were cast in February 1952, voters in the state of Himachal Pradesh were given the chance to vote in October 1951 because the heavy snowfall, primitive roads, and mountainous terrain of that state made it likely that polling stations would be largely unreachable during a February election.
- Guha, Ramachandra. "Democracy's Biggest Gamble," World Policy Journal, (Spring 2002) 19#1 pp95–103
- Ramachandra Guha (2008). India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy. ISBN 978-0-06-095858-9.
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- "General Election of India 1951, List of Successful Candidate". Election Commission of India. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- Ramachandra Guha (2008). India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-06-095858-9.
- "Statistical Report On General Elections, 1951 to The First Lok Sabha: List of Successful Candidates". Election Commission of India. p. 83, 12. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- India's first voter in Himachal Pradesh, by Gautam Dhmeer, in the Deccan Herald; published October 30, 2012; retrieved April 7, 2014