Indian general election, 1977
In a major turn of events, the ruling Congress lost control of India for the first time in independent India in the Indian general election, 1977. The hastily formed, Janata alliance of parties opposed to the ruling Congress party, won 298 seats. Morarji Desai was chosen as the leader of the alliance in the newly formed parliament and thus became India's first non-Congress Prime Minister on 24 March. The Congress lost nearly 200 seats. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her powerful son Sanjay Gandhi both lost their seats.
The election came after the end of The Emergency that Prime Minister Gandhi had imposed in 1975; it effectively suspended democracy, suppressed the opposition, and took control of the media with authoritarian measures. The opposition called for a restoration of democracy and Indians saw the election results as a repudiation of the Emergency.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2012)|
India held general elections to the 6th Lok Sabha. This sixth general elections, which were conducted for 542 seats from 542 constituencies, represented 27 Indian states and union territories. These 542 constituencies remained same until Indian general elections, 2004 for the 14th Lok Sabha.
The Emergency declared by the Indira Gandhi led Congress government was the core issue in the 1977 elections. Civil liberties were suspended during the national emergency from 25 June 1975 to 21 March 1977 and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assumed vast powers.
Gandhi had become extremely unpopular for her decision and paid for it during the elections. Mrs. Gandhi, on 23 January, called for fresh elections and released all political prisoners. Four Opposition parties, the Congress Organisation, the Jan Sangh, the Bharatiya Lok Dal and the Socialist Party, decided to fight the elections under a single banner called the Janata alliance.
The Janata alliance reminded voters of the excesses and human rights violations during the Emergency, like compulsory sterilisation and imprisonment of political leaders. The Janata campaign said the elections would decide whether India would have "democracy or dictatorship." The Congress looked jittery. Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram quit the party, and he was one among many. Other notable Congress stalwarts who crossed the floor before the election were Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna and Nandini Satpathy.
The Congress tried unsuccessfully to scare voters from the opposition by speaking about the need for a strong government.
The elections in the largest state Uttar Pradesh, historically a Congress stronghold, turned against Mrs. Gandhi. Dhanagare says the structural reasons included the emergence of a strong and united opposition, disunity and weariness within the Congress, an effective opposition and the failure of Mrs. Gandhi in controlling the mass media, which was under censorship during the Emergency. The structural factors allowed voters to express their grievances, notably their resentment of the emergency and its authoritarian and repressive policies. One grievance often mentioned was the 'Nasbandi' (vasectomy) campaign in rural areas. The middle class also emphasised on the curbing of freedom of speech throughout the country. Meanwhile, Congress hit an all-time low in West Bengal, according to the Gangulys, because of poor discipline and factionalism among Congress activists as well as numerous defections that weakened the party. Opponents emphasised the issues of corruption within the Congress and appealed to a deep desire by the voters for fresh leadership. The Congress, however, did well in Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The results were mixed in the Western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, however, the Janata Front won all the seats in Mumbai.
Results by alliance
|Alliances||Party||Seats won||Change||Popular Votes %|
Seat Change: +233
Popular Vote %: 51.89
|Janata Party / Congress for Democracy||298||+245||43.17|
|Communist Party of India (Marxist)||22||-3||4.30|
|Shiromani Akali Dal||9||+8||1.26|
|Peasants and Workers Party of India||5||—||0.55|
|Revolutionary Socialist Party||3||+2||n/a|
|All India Forward Bloc||3||+2||0.34|
|Republican Party of India (Khobragade)||2||+1||0.51|
|Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam||1||-22||1.76|
Seat Change: -217
Popular Vote %: 40.98
|Indian National Congress (Indira)||153||−197||34.52|
|Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam||19||—||2.9|
|Communist Party of India||7||-16||2.82|
|Jammu & Kashmir National Conference||2||—||0.26|
|Indian Union Muslim League||2||-2||0.3|
|Revolutionary Socialist Party (breakaway)||1||-1||—|
Results by Party
|Lok Sabha elections 1977
Electoral participation: 60.49%
|Bharatiya Lok Dal/Janata Party||BLD||41.32||295|
|Communist Party of India||CPI||2.82||7|
|Communist Party of India (Marxist)||CPI(M)||4.29||22|
|Indian National Congress (Indira)||INC(I)||34.52||154|
|Indian National Congress (Organization)||INC(O)||5.28||13|
|All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam||AIADMK||2.9||18|
|All India Forward Bloc||AIFB||0.34||2|
|Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam||DMK||1.76||2|
|Indian Union Muslim League||IUML||0.3||2|
|Jammu & Kashmir National Conference||NC||0.26||2|
|Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party||MGP||0.06||1|
|Manipur Peoples Party||MPP||0.06||0|
|Muslim League (Opposition)||ML(O)||0.17||0|
|Peasants and Workers Party of India||PWPI||0.55||5|
|Revolutionary Socialist Party||RSP||0.45||4|
|Shiromani Akali Dal||SAD||1.26||9|
|United Democratic Front||UDF||0.07||1|
|Republican Party of India (Khobragade)||RPI(K)||0.51||2|
- M.R. Masani, "India's Second Revolution," Asian Affairs (1977) 5#1 pp 19–38.
- "General Election of India 1977, 6th Lok Sabha". Election Commission of India. p. 6. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
- D.N. Dhanagare, "Sixth Lok Sabha Election in Uttar Pradesh – 1977: The End of the Congress Hegemony," Political Science Review (1979) 18#1 pp 28–51
- Mira Ganguly and Bangendu Ganguly, "Lok Sabha Election, 1977: The West Bengal Scene," Political Science Review (1979) 18#3 pp 28–53
- Guha, Ramachandra. India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (2008) pp 491–518
- Klieman, Aaron S. "Indira's India: Democracy and Crisis Government," Political Science Quarterly (1981) 96#2 pp. 241–259 in JSTOR
- Roy, Ramashray; Sheth, D. L. "The 1977 Lok Sabha Election Outcome: The Salience of Changing Voter Alignments Since 1969," Political Science Review (1978), Vol. 17 Issue 3/4, pp 51–63