Elections in India
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India has an asymmetric federal government, with elected officials at the federal, state and local levels. At the national level, the head of government, Prime Minister, is elected by the members of Lok Sabha, lower house of the parliament of India. All members of Lok Sabha except two, who can be nominated by president of India, are directly elected through general elections which take place every five years, in normal circumstances, by universal adult suffrage. Members of Rajya Sabha, upper house of Indian parliament, are elected by elected members of the legislative assemblies of states and Electoral college for Union Territories of India.
In year 2009, the elections involved an electorate of 714 million people  (larger than both EU and US elections combined). In year 2014, the Electoral Strength of India increased to 814.5 Million. Declared expenditure has trebled since 1989 to almost $300 million, using more than one million electronic voting machines.
The size of the huge electorate mandates that elections be conducted in a number of phases (there were four phases in 2004 General Elections and five phases in 2009 General Elections). It involves a number of step-by-step processes from announcement of election dates by the Election Commission of India, which brings into force the 'model code of conduct' for the political parties, to the announcement of results and submission of the list of successful candidates to the executive head of the state or the centre. The submission of results marks the end of the election process, thereby paving way for the formation of the new government.
- 1 Indian electoral system
- 2 History of elections in India
- 3 History of political parties
- 4 Electoral Process in India
- 5 Voter registration
- 6 Absentee voting
- 7 Cash for votes in India
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Indian electoral system
The House of the People (Lok Sabha) represents citizens of India (as envisaged by the Constitution of India, currently the members of Lok Sabha are 545, out of which 543 are elected for 5-year term and 2 members represent the Anglo-Indian community). The 545 members are elected under the plurality ('first past the post') electoral system. Council of States (Rajya Sabha) has 245 members, 233 members elected for a six-year term, with one-third retiring every two years. The members are indirectly elected, this being achieved by the votes of legislators in the state and union (federal) territories. The elected members are chosen under the system of proportional representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote. The twelve nominated members are usually an eclectic mix of eminent artists (including actors), scientists, jurists, sportspersons, businessmen and journalists and common people.
History of elections in India
Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of the adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is 552, which is made up by election of up to 530 members to represent the States, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President, if, in his/ her opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the lower house,Lok Sabha.
In 1952 Lok Sabha Elections there were 1874 candidates, which rose to 13952 candidates in 1996. However in 2009 Lok Sabha Elections only 8070 candidates contested.
- 1st Lok Sabha (1951-52)
- 2nd Lok Sabha (1957)
- 3rd Lok Sabha (1962)
- 4th Lok Sabha (1967)
- 5th Lok Sabha (1971)
- 6th Lok Sabha (1977)
- 7th Lok Sabha (1980)
- 8th Lok Sabha (1984-85)
- 9th Lok Sabha (1989)
- 10th Lok Sabha (1991)
- 11th Lok Sabha (1996)
- 12th Lok Sabha (1998)
- 13th Lok Sabha (1999)
- 14th Lok Sabha (2004)
- 15th Lok Sabha (2009)
- 16th Lok Sabha (2014)
History of political parties
The dominance of the Indian National Congress was broken for the first time in 1977, with the defeat of the party led by Indira Gandhi, by an unlikely coalition of all the major other parties, which protested against the imposition of a controversial Emergency from 1975–1977. A similar coalition, led by VP Singh was swept to power in 1989 in the wake of major allegations of corruption against the incumbent Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. It, too, lost its steam in 1990.
In 1992, the heretofore one-party-dominant politics in India gave way to a coalition system wherein no single party can expect to achieve a majority in the Parliament to form a government, but rather has to depend on a process of coalition building with other parties to form a block and claim a majority to be invited to form the government. This has been a consequence of strong regional parties which ride on the back of regional aspirations.
While parties like the TDP and the DMK had traditionally been strong regional contenders, the 1990s saw the emergence of other regional players such as the Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Janata Dal. These parties are traditionally based on regional aspirations, e.g. Telangana Rashtra Samithi or are strongly influenced by caste considerations, e.g. Bahujan Samaj Party which claims to represent the Dalits.
Presently, the outgoing United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress Party is in power and parliament is in process of dissolution post Indian general election, 2014, while the National Democratic Alliance the prime opposition is set to form the Government.
In recent polls of 2014 Bharatiya Janata Party has achieved the simple majority on its own with securing 282 seats and their alliance NDA has secured 335 seats. Narendra Modi widely recognized as a strong leader with economic developmental focus is now the prime minister .
Electoral Process in India
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
Electoral Process in India takes at least a month for state assembly elections with the duration increasing further for the General Elections. Publishing of electoral rolls is a key process that happens before the elections and is vital for the conduct of elections in India. The Indian Constitution sets the eligibility of an individual for voting. Any person who is a citizen of India and above 18 years of age is eligible to enroll as a voter in the electoral rolls. It is the responsibility of the eligible voters to enroll their names. Normally, voter registrations are allowed latest one week prior to the last date for nomination of candidates.
Government expenditure on elections
The cost per voter in the 2014 general elections was Rs 17, a twentyfold increase over the first election, held in 1952. The total expenditure for the 2014 general election was Rs 3426 Crore; the 1952 election cost Rs 10.45 Crore total.
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail system (VVPAT)
On 14 August 2013 the Government of India amended the elections rules to permit the use the Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system. The first election to implement the new system was a by-election held in the 51 Noksen Assembly Constituency of Nagaland. Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system is introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project in Indian general election, 2014. VVPAT is implemented in Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram constituencies. Generated slip tells voter to which party or candidate vote has been given and also includes name of voter, constituency and polling booth.
At first before the elections the dates of nomination, polling and counting takes place. The model code of conduct comes in force from the day the dates are announced. No party is allowed to use the government resources for campaigning. The code of conduct stipulates that campaigning be stopped 48 hours prior to end of polling.
Government schools and colleges are chosen as polling stations. The Collector of each district is in charge of polling. Government employees are employed to many of the polling stations. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being increasingly used instead of ballot boxes to prevent election fraud via booth capturing, which is heavily prevalent in certain parts of India. An indelible ink is applied usually on the left index finger of the voter as an indicator that the voter has cast his vote. This practice has been followed since the 1962 general elections to prevent a bad vote.
"None of the above" voting option (Negative Vote)
"None of the above" is a proposed voting option in India that would allow voters who support none of the candidates available to them to register an official vote of "none of the above", which is not currently allowed under India election regulation. The Election Commission of India told the Supreme Court in 2009 that it wished to offer the voter a None of the above button on voting machines; the government, however, has generally opposed this option.
On September 27, 2013, Supreme Court of India pronounced a judgement that citizen's of India have Right to Negative Vote by exercising None of the above (NOTA) option in EVMs and ballot papers. The judgment was passed on a PIL filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties, an NGO in 2009. Election Commission has implemented this option of "None of the above" voting option in EVM machines w.e.f.five states polls starting from November 2013. However it does not mean that if 'NOTA' gets highest votes then election will be conducted again, rather even in that case, the candidate with the highest votes will be treated as elected candidate.
After the election day, the EVMs are stored in a strong room under heavy security. After the different phases of the elections are complete, a day is set to count the votes. The votes are tallied typically, the verdict is known within hours. The candidate who has mustered the most votes is declared the winner of the constituency.
The party or coalition that has won the most seats is invited by the President to form the new government. The coalition or party must prove its majority in the floor of the house (Lok Sabha) in a vote of confidence by obtaining a simple majority (minimum 50%) of the votes in the house.
For a few cities in India, the voter registration forms can be generated online and submitted to the nearest electoral office. But in most of the states people have to do the registration in person at the nearest office of the state election commissioner.
Currently, India does not have an absentee ballot system for all citizens except in few exceptions. Section 19 of The Representation of the People Act (RPA)-1950 allows a person to register to vote if he or she is above 18 years of age and is an ‘ordinary resident’ of the residing constituency i.e. living at the current address for 6 months or longer. Section 20 of the above Act disqualifies a non-resident Indian (NRI) from getting his/her name registered in the electoral rolls. Consequently, it also prevents a NRI from casting his/her vote in elections to the Parliament and to the State Legislatures.
In August 2010, Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill-2010 which allows voting rights to NRI's was passed in both Lok Sabha with subsequent gazette notifications on November 24, 2010. With this NRI's will now be able to vote in Indian elections but have to be physically present at the time of voting. Several civic society organizations have urged the government to amend the RPA act to allow NRI's and people on the move to cast their vote through absentee ballot system. People for Lok Satta has been actively pushing combination of internet and postal ballot as a viable means for NRI voting.
Cash for votes in India
In December 2010 during the United States diplomatic cables le WikiLeaks leaked a cable stating that political parties regularly bribe voters, in the form of cash, goods, or services, before elections in India. It may range from financing the construction of a community well to putting into an envelope and delivering it inside the morning newspaper. Politicians and their operatives have admitted to violating election rules to influence voters. The money used to pay for the bribes come from the money raised through fundraising. The practice is thought to have swung many elections where the race was close. The Hindu news paper reported that "Karti Chidambaram of the Congress, M. Patturajan, confidant of Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers M.K. Alagiri and former Mayor of Madurai, and Member of Parliament Assaduddin Owaisi of the Majlis-e-Ittenhadul Muslimeen spoke about how they, their principals, or their parties made payments to voters during the election campaign".
- 49-O Popularly known as 'No Vote'
- Indian general election, 2009
- Indian general election, 2014
- Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961(India)
- Legislative Assembly elections in India
- Election Commission of India
- Basu, Durga D. (2009). "11". Introduction to the Constitution of India. Nagpur, India: LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa Nagpur. p. 199. ISBN 9788180385599.
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- Rajya Sabha Secretariat. "Council of States (Rajya Sabha)". The national portal of India. Parliament of India. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- Shashi Tharoor (2009-04-16). "The recurring miracle of Indian democracy". New Straits Times.
- EU (25 states) electorate = 350mn <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3715399.stm>, US electorate=212 mm <http://elections.gmu.edu/preliminary_vote_2008.html>
- "Number of Registered Voters in India reaches 814.5 Mn in 2014". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- Indian General Election Expenditure, from ECI website accessed 14 May 2006.
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- "EC Decides to use VVPAT System at Bye-Election in Nagaland" (Press release). Press Information Bureau. 17 August 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- "VVPAT, a revolutionary step in voting transparency". DNA. 2014-04-27. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
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- Bagriya, Ashok (29 January 2009). "EC suggests 'none of the above' option on the ballot". IBN Live. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
- Sorabjee, Soli J. (1 March 2009). "Right of negative voting". The Indian Express. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- "SC's landmark judgement: Voters get right to reject". Deccan Chronicle. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- "Voter has right to negative voting: SC". The Hindu. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- "Representation of the People Act-1950" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- "gazette notifications". Thehindu.com. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- "Petition for Absentee Voting in Indian Elections". Voterswithoutborders.org. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- "Non-Resident Indians Voting rights in the upcoming general elections". Tanushreebagrodia.blogspot.com. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- "People for Lok Satta- NRI voting campaign". Nrivotingrights.info. 2011-01-09. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- "206688: cash for votes in South India" (2009-13-05), The Hindu.
- "‘Cash for votes a way of political life in South India’". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
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