Indian provincial elections, 1946

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Indian provincial elections, 1946
British Raj
1937 ←
1946 → 1951

1585 provincial seats contested
  First party Second party
  Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.jpg Jinnah1945a.jpg
Leader Abul Kalam Azad
Party president
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Seats won 923 425

Provincial elections were held in British India in January 1946 to elect members of the legislative councils of British Indian provinces.[1] The elections were extremely influential in the creation of Pakistan. The Muslim League finished second, but had united the Muslim vote. It won nearly 1/3 of India, as such it gained the negotiating power to begin partitioning India. This was done as it became evident that a united India would be extremely unstable, given that the Muslim League won the majority in Punjab but was prevented from forming a coalition government by Congress and the Unionists, the Pro-Union coalition collapsed as soon as it was formed. This proved a nail in the coffin for Gandhi and Nehru in proving that a united India would be a stable India [2]


On 19 September 1945, the Viceroy Lord Wavell announced that elections to the provincial and central legislatures would be held in December 1945 to January 1946. It was also announced that an executive council would be formed and a constitution-making body would be convened after these elections.[1][3]

These elections were important as the provincial assemblies thus formed were to then elect a new Constituent Assembly for an independent India.


The results were in favour of the Indian National Congress. Of the total of 1585 seats, it won 923 (58.23%). The All-India Muslim League won 425 seats (26.81% of the total), placing it as second-ranking party. The Congress formed its ministries in Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Central Provinces, Madras, NWFP, Orissa and United Provinces. The Muslim League formed its ministries in Bengal and Sind. A coalition consisting of the Congress, Unionist Party and the Akalis was formed in Punjab.[4]

The Communist Party of India had presented 108 candidates, out of whom only 8 won a seat.[5] The set-back came as a result of the decision of the party not to support the Quit India movement of 1942.[6] Seven out of the eight seats it won were reserved for labour representatives. All in all, the Communist Party obtained 2.5% of the popular vote. Albeit far from competing with the two main parties, the communists became the third force in terms of the popular vote.[5] Amongst the communist candidates elected were Jyoti Basu (railways constituency in Bengal), Ratanlal Brahman (Darjeeling) and Rupnarayan Ray (Dinajpur).[7]

Legislative Assemblies[8]

Province Congress Muslim League Other parties Independents Total
Assam 58 31 Europeans 9
Others 3
7 108
Bengal 86 113 Europeans 25
Others 12
14 250
Bihar 98 34 8 12 152
Bombay 125 30 2 18 175
Central Provinces 92 13 7 112
Madras 163 28 Communist Party 2[9] 22 215
North West Frontier Province 30 17 2 1 50
Orissa 47 4 9 60
Punjab 51 73 Akalis 22
Unionist Party 20
9 175
Sind 18 27 10 4 60
United Provinces 153 54 7 14 228
Total 923 425 123 114 1585


  1. ^ a b Vohra, Ranbir. The Making of India: A Political History. p. 176. 
  2. ^, 'The election that created Pakistan', Dawn newspaper, Updated 11 May 2014, Retrieved 10 February 2017
  3. ^ Sen, S. N. History of the Freedom Movement in India (1857-1947). p. 317. 
  4. ^ Joseph E. Schwartzberg. "Schwartzberg Atlas". A Historical Atlas of South Asia. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Overstreet, Gene D., and Marshall Windmiller. Communism in India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959. pp. 236-237
  6. ^ Sharma, Shalini. Radical Politics in Colonial Punjab: Governance and Sedition. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010. p. 7
  7. ^ Samāddāra, Raṇabīra. The Materiality of Politics. London: Anthem Press, 2007. p. 45
  8. ^
  9. ^ Wyatt, Andrew. Party System Change in South India: Political Entrepreneurs, Patterns, and Processes. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010. p. 56