India Insight

Key dates in India’s election history

March 5, 2014

Voting for the 2014 general election will begin on April 7, the Election Commission said on Wednesday.

(For facts and figures on the 2014 election, click here)

Here is a timeline of key dates in India’s election history:

1947 – Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the founding fathers of independent India, becomes the country’s first prime minister. His appointment starts a long period of political dominance of the Congress party and the country’s most powerful dynasty, the Gandhi-Nehru family.

1952 – Nehru leads Congress to a clear victory in the country’s first ever general election and retains the prime ministership, which he held until his death in 1964.

1967 – Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi leads Congress to another victory and becomes the country’s only female prime minister. She wins another election in 1971 — the year India trounced Pakistan in the third war between the two countries since 1947.

1975-1977 – Indira Gandhi imposes a State of Emergency, which critics say gave her near dictatorial powers.

1977 – Morarji Desai, an ageing supporter of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophies, becomes prime minister as the Janata Party coalition defeats Indira Gandhi to form the first non-Congress government in India.

1980 – Indira Gandhi re-elected, but is assassinated four years later by her Sikh bodyguards after a suppression of Sikh separatism that culminated in the storming of the Golden Temple.

1984 – Rajiv Gandhi, Indira’s son and a former commercial pilot, becomes India’s youngest prime minister and leads Congress to victory. Gandhi is voted out five years later after becoming embroiled in the Bofors scandal – a defence deal, of which he was posthumously cleared in 2004.

1996 – The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), founded in 1980, wins power for the first time. The charismatic Atal Bihari Vajpayee becomes prime minister for most of the next eight years.

2004 – The BJP loses to Congress despite presiding over healthy economic growth. Its “India Shining” campaign fails to resonate with voters. Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of Rajiv Gandhi, leads a Congress victory, but steps aside to let economist Manmohan Singh become prime minister, ending sniping about her nationality.

2009 – The Congress, riding on the back of years of economic growth, not only retains power but raises its strength in the Lok Sabha. The opposition BJP, led by patriarch LK Advani, sees its numbers reduced.

More Reuters coverage of Election 2014

(Source: Reuters. Compiled by Shashank Chouhan; Follow Shashank on Twitter @shashankchouhan | This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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