NCERT Textbook - Era of One Party Dominance Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Political Science Class 12

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Era of One Party Dominance Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Credit: Shankar
In this chapter…
The challenge of nation-building, covered in the last chapter, was 
accompanied by the challenge of instituting democratic politics. Thus, 
electoral competition among political parties began immediately after 
Independence. In this chapter, we look at the first decade of electoral 
politics in order to understand
•	 the 	 establishment	of	a	system 	of	free 	 and	fair	elections;	
•	 the 	 domination	of 	 the	Congress	party	in	 the	years 	immediately 		 	
	 after	Independence;	and	
•	 the 	 emergence 	 of 	opposition 	parties	and	 their 	policies.
This famous sketch 
by Shankar appeared 
on the cover of his 
collection – Don’t Spare 
Me, Shankar. The 
original sketch was 
drawn in the context of 
India’s China policy. But 
this cartoon captures 
the dual role of the 
Congress during the era 
of one-party dominance.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 2


Credit: Shankar
In this chapter…
The challenge of nation-building, covered in the last chapter, was 
accompanied by the challenge of instituting democratic politics. Thus, 
electoral competition among political parties began immediately after 
Independence. In this chapter, we look at the first decade of electoral 
politics in order to understand
•	 the 	 establishment	of	a	system 	of	free 	 and	fair	elections;	
•	 the 	 domination	of 	 the	Congress	party	in	 the	years 	immediately 		 	
	 after	Independence;	and	
•	 the 	 emergence 	 of 	opposition 	parties	and	 their 	policies.
This famous sketch 
by Shankar appeared 
on the cover of his 
collection – Don’t Spare 
Me, Shankar. The 
original sketch was 
drawn in the context of 
India’s China policy. But 
this cartoon captures 
the dual role of the 
Congress during the era 
of one-party dominance.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
2
chapter
era of one-party 
dominance
Challenge of building democracy
You now have an idea of the difficult circumstances in which 
independent India was born. You have read about the serious 
challenge of nation-building that confronted the country right in the 
beginning. Faced with such serious challenges, leaders in many other 
countries of the world decided that their country could not afford 
to have democracy. They said that national unity was their first 
priority and that democracy will introduce differences and conflicts. 
Therefore many of the countries that gained freedom from colonialism 
experienced non-democratic rule. It took various forms: nominal 
democracy but effective control by one leader, one party rule or direct 
army rule. Non-democratic regimes always started with a promise of 
restoring democracy very soon. But once they established themselves, 
it was very difficult to dislodge them.
The conditions in India were not very different. But the leaders of 
the newly independent India decided to take the more difficult path. 
Any other path would have been surprising, for our freedom struggle 
was deeply committed to the idea of democracy. Our leaders were 
conscious of the critical role of politics in any democracy. They did not 
see politics as a problem; they saw it as a way of solving the problems. 
Every society needs to decide how it will govern and regulate itself. 
There are always different policy alternatives to choose from. There 
are different groups with different and conflicting aspirations. How 
do we resolve these differences? Democratic politics is an answer to 
this question. While competition and power are the two most visible 
things about politics, the purpose of political activity is and should be 
deciding and pursuing public interest. This is the route our leaders 
decided to take.
Last year you studied how our Constitution was drafted. 
You would remember that the Constitution was adopted on  
26 November 1949 and signed on 24 January 1950 and it came into 
effect on 26 January 1950. At that time the country was being ruled 
by an interim government. It was now necessary to install the first 
democratically elected government of the country. The Constitution 
had laid down the rules, now the machine had to be put in place. 
Initially it was thought that this was only a matter of a few months. The 
Election Commission of India was set up in January 1950. Sukumar 
Sen became the first Chief Election Commissioner. The country’s first 
general elections were expected sometime in 1950 itself. 
What’s so special 
about our being a 
democracy? Sooner 
or later every country 
has become a 
democracy, isn’t it?
Credit: Shankar
                In India,…. 
…hero-worship, plays a part 
in its politics unequalled 
in magnitude by the part 
it plays in the politics of 
any other country….But in 
politics, .. ..hero-worship is a 
sure road to degradation and 
eventual dictatorship.
 
Babasaheb Dr. B.R. 
Ambedkar 
Speech in Constituent 
Assembly  
25 November 1949
“
“
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 3


Credit: Shankar
In this chapter…
The challenge of nation-building, covered in the last chapter, was 
accompanied by the challenge of instituting democratic politics. Thus, 
electoral competition among political parties began immediately after 
Independence. In this chapter, we look at the first decade of electoral 
politics in order to understand
•	 the 	 establishment	of	a	system 	of	free 	 and	fair	elections;	
•	 the 	 domination	of 	 the	Congress	party	in	 the	years 	immediately 		 	
	 after	Independence;	and	
•	 the 	 emergence 	 of 	opposition 	parties	and	 their 	policies.
This famous sketch 
by Shankar appeared 
on the cover of his 
collection – Don’t Spare 
Me, Shankar. The 
original sketch was 
drawn in the context of 
India’s China policy. But 
this cartoon captures 
the dual role of the 
Congress during the era 
of one-party dominance.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
2
chapter
era of one-party 
dominance
Challenge of building democracy
You now have an idea of the difficult circumstances in which 
independent India was born. You have read about the serious 
challenge of nation-building that confronted the country right in the 
beginning. Faced with such serious challenges, leaders in many other 
countries of the world decided that their country could not afford 
to have democracy. They said that national unity was their first 
priority and that democracy will introduce differences and conflicts. 
Therefore many of the countries that gained freedom from colonialism 
experienced non-democratic rule. It took various forms: nominal 
democracy but effective control by one leader, one party rule or direct 
army rule. Non-democratic regimes always started with a promise of 
restoring democracy very soon. But once they established themselves, 
it was very difficult to dislodge them.
The conditions in India were not very different. But the leaders of 
the newly independent India decided to take the more difficult path. 
Any other path would have been surprising, for our freedom struggle 
was deeply committed to the idea of democracy. Our leaders were 
conscious of the critical role of politics in any democracy. They did not 
see politics as a problem; they saw it as a way of solving the problems. 
Every society needs to decide how it will govern and regulate itself. 
There are always different policy alternatives to choose from. There 
are different groups with different and conflicting aspirations. How 
do we resolve these differences? Democratic politics is an answer to 
this question. While competition and power are the two most visible 
things about politics, the purpose of political activity is and should be 
deciding and pursuing public interest. This is the route our leaders 
decided to take.
Last year you studied how our Constitution was drafted. 
You would remember that the Constitution was adopted on  
26 November 1949 and signed on 24 January 1950 and it came into 
effect on 26 January 1950. At that time the country was being ruled 
by an interim government. It was now necessary to install the first 
democratically elected government of the country. The Constitution 
had laid down the rules, now the machine had to be put in place. 
Initially it was thought that this was only a matter of a few months. The 
Election Commission of India was set up in January 1950. Sukumar 
Sen became the first Chief Election Commissioner. The country’s first 
general elections were expected sometime in 1950 itself. 
What’s so special 
about our being a 
democracy? Sooner 
or later every country 
has become a 
democracy, isn’t it?
Credit: Shankar
                In India,…. 
…hero-worship, plays a part 
in its politics unequalled 
in magnitude by the part 
it plays in the politics of 
any other country….But in 
politics, .. ..hero-worship is a 
sure road to degradation and 
eventual dictatorship.
 
Babasaheb Dr. B.R. 
Ambedkar 
Speech in Constituent 
Assembly  
25 November 1949
“
“
2015-16(21/01/2015)
28                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
A cartoonist’s impression of the election committee formed by the Congress to choose party 
candidates in 1951. On the committee, besides Nehru: Morarji Desai, Rafi  Ahmed Kidwai,  
Dr B.C. Roy, Kamaraj Nadar, Rajagopalachari, Jagjivan Ram, Maulana Azad, D.P. Mishra,  
P.D. Tandon and Govind Ballabh Pant.
But the Election Commission discovered that it was not going to 
be easy to hold a free and fair election in a country of India’s size. 
Holding an election required delimitation or drawing the boundaries 
of the electoral constituencies. It also required preparing the electoral 
rolls, or the list of all the citizens eligible to vote. Both these tasks took 
a lot of time. When the first draft of the rolls was published, it was 
discovered that the names of nearly 40 lakh women were not recorded 
in the list. They were simply listed as “wife of …” or “daughter of …”. 
The Election Commission refused to accept these entries and ordered 
a revision if possible and deletion if necessary. Preparing for the first 
general election  was a mammoth exercise.  No election  on this scale 
had ever been conducted  in the world before. At that time there 
were 17 crore eligible voters, who had to elect about 3,200 MLAs and 
489 Members of Lok Sabha. Only 15 per cent of these eligible voters 
were literate. Therefore the Election Commission had to think of some 
special method of voting. The Election Commission trained over 3 
lakh officers and polling staff to conduct the elections. 
It was not just the size of the country and the electorate that made 
this election unusual. The first general election was also the first big 
test of democracy in  a poor and illiterate country. Till then democracy 
had existed only in the prosperous countries, mainly in Europe and 
North America, where nearly everyone was literate. By that time 
many countries in Europe had not given voting rights to all women. 
In this context India’s experiment with universal adult franchise 
That was a good 
decision. But what 
about men who still 
refer to a woman as 
Mrs. Somebody, as if 
she does not have a 
name of her own?
Credit: Shankar, 20 May 1951
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 4


Credit: Shankar
In this chapter…
The challenge of nation-building, covered in the last chapter, was 
accompanied by the challenge of instituting democratic politics. Thus, 
electoral competition among political parties began immediately after 
Independence. In this chapter, we look at the first decade of electoral 
politics in order to understand
•	 the 	 establishment	of	a	system 	of	free 	 and	fair	elections;	
•	 the 	 domination	of 	 the	Congress	party	in	 the	years 	immediately 		 	
	 after	Independence;	and	
•	 the 	 emergence 	 of 	opposition 	parties	and	 their 	policies.
This famous sketch 
by Shankar appeared 
on the cover of his 
collection – Don’t Spare 
Me, Shankar. The 
original sketch was 
drawn in the context of 
India’s China policy. But 
this cartoon captures 
the dual role of the 
Congress during the era 
of one-party dominance.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
2
chapter
era of one-party 
dominance
Challenge of building democracy
You now have an idea of the difficult circumstances in which 
independent India was born. You have read about the serious 
challenge of nation-building that confronted the country right in the 
beginning. Faced with such serious challenges, leaders in many other 
countries of the world decided that their country could not afford 
to have democracy. They said that national unity was their first 
priority and that democracy will introduce differences and conflicts. 
Therefore many of the countries that gained freedom from colonialism 
experienced non-democratic rule. It took various forms: nominal 
democracy but effective control by one leader, one party rule or direct 
army rule. Non-democratic regimes always started with a promise of 
restoring democracy very soon. But once they established themselves, 
it was very difficult to dislodge them.
The conditions in India were not very different. But the leaders of 
the newly independent India decided to take the more difficult path. 
Any other path would have been surprising, for our freedom struggle 
was deeply committed to the idea of democracy. Our leaders were 
conscious of the critical role of politics in any democracy. They did not 
see politics as a problem; they saw it as a way of solving the problems. 
Every society needs to decide how it will govern and regulate itself. 
There are always different policy alternatives to choose from. There 
are different groups with different and conflicting aspirations. How 
do we resolve these differences? Democratic politics is an answer to 
this question. While competition and power are the two most visible 
things about politics, the purpose of political activity is and should be 
deciding and pursuing public interest. This is the route our leaders 
decided to take.
Last year you studied how our Constitution was drafted. 
You would remember that the Constitution was adopted on  
26 November 1949 and signed on 24 January 1950 and it came into 
effect on 26 January 1950. At that time the country was being ruled 
by an interim government. It was now necessary to install the first 
democratically elected government of the country. The Constitution 
had laid down the rules, now the machine had to be put in place. 
Initially it was thought that this was only a matter of a few months. The 
Election Commission of India was set up in January 1950. Sukumar 
Sen became the first Chief Election Commissioner. The country’s first 
general elections were expected sometime in 1950 itself. 
What’s so special 
about our being a 
democracy? Sooner 
or later every country 
has become a 
democracy, isn’t it?
Credit: Shankar
                In India,…. 
…hero-worship, plays a part 
in its politics unequalled 
in magnitude by the part 
it plays in the politics of 
any other country….But in 
politics, .. ..hero-worship is a 
sure road to degradation and 
eventual dictatorship.
 
Babasaheb Dr. B.R. 
Ambedkar 
Speech in Constituent 
Assembly  
25 November 1949
“
“
2015-16(21/01/2015)
28                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
A cartoonist’s impression of the election committee formed by the Congress to choose party 
candidates in 1951. On the committee, besides Nehru: Morarji Desai, Rafi  Ahmed Kidwai,  
Dr B.C. Roy, Kamaraj Nadar, Rajagopalachari, Jagjivan Ram, Maulana Azad, D.P. Mishra,  
P.D. Tandon and Govind Ballabh Pant.
But the Election Commission discovered that it was not going to 
be easy to hold a free and fair election in a country of India’s size. 
Holding an election required delimitation or drawing the boundaries 
of the electoral constituencies. It also required preparing the electoral 
rolls, or the list of all the citizens eligible to vote. Both these tasks took 
a lot of time. When the first draft of the rolls was published, it was 
discovered that the names of nearly 40 lakh women were not recorded 
in the list. They were simply listed as “wife of …” or “daughter of …”. 
The Election Commission refused to accept these entries and ordered 
a revision if possible and deletion if necessary. Preparing for the first 
general election  was a mammoth exercise.  No election  on this scale 
had ever been conducted  in the world before. At that time there 
were 17 crore eligible voters, who had to elect about 3,200 MLAs and 
489 Members of Lok Sabha. Only 15 per cent of these eligible voters 
were literate. Therefore the Election Commission had to think of some 
special method of voting. The Election Commission trained over 3 
lakh officers and polling staff to conduct the elections. 
It was not just the size of the country and the electorate that made 
this election unusual. The first general election was also the first big 
test of democracy in  a poor and illiterate country. Till then democracy 
had existed only in the prosperous countries, mainly in Europe and 
North America, where nearly everyone was literate. By that time 
many countries in Europe had not given voting rights to all women. 
In this context India’s experiment with universal adult franchise 
That was a good 
decision. But what 
about men who still 
refer to a woman as 
Mrs. Somebody, as if 
she does not have a 
name of her own?
Credit: Shankar, 20 May 1951
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Era of One-party Dominance                                                                                29  
 Let’s re-search
Ask the elders in your family and neighbourhood about their 
experience of participating in elections.
•	 Did	anyone 	vote	in 	the	 first	or	second	general	election?	Who	 did 	 	
	 they 	 vote	for	and	why?
•	 Is	 there	 someone	who 	has	used	 all	the	three	methods 	of	voting?		
	 Which 	 one	 did	they	 prefer?	
•	 In	 which	ways	 do 	 they	find	 the	elections	 of 	those 	days	different		
	 from 	the 	present	ones?
Changing methods of voting 
 
These days we use an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to record voters’ 
preferences. But that is not how we started. In the first general election, it 
was decided to place inside each polling booth a box for each candidate with 
the election symbol of that candidate. Each voter was given a blank ballot 
paper which they had to drop into the box of the candidate they wanted to 
vote for. About 20 lakh steel boxes were used for this purpose. 
A presiding officer from Punjab described how he 
A sample of the 
ballot paper 
used from 
the third to 
the thirteenth 
general 
elections to Lok 
Sabha
prepared the ballot boxes—“Each box had to have 
its candidate’s symbol, both inside and outside it, and 
outside on either side, had to be displayed the name 
of the candidate in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi along with 
the number of the constituency, the polling station and 
the polling booth. The paper seal with the numerical 
description of the candidate, signed by the presiding 
officer, had to be inserted in the token frame and its 
window closed by its door which had to be fixed in its place 
at the other end by means of a wire. All this had to be 
done on the day previous to the one fixed for polling. To fix 
symbols and labels the boxes had first to be rubbed with 
sandpaper or a piece of brick. I found that it took about 
five hours for six persons, including my two daughters, to 
complete this work. All this was done at my house.”
Electronic Voting 
Machine
After the first two elections this method was changed. Now the ballot paper 
carried the names and symbols of all the candidates and the voter was required 
to put a stamp on the name of the candidate they wanted to vote for. This method 
worked 	 for	 nearly 	 forty	 years. 	 Towards	 the	 end	 of 	 1990s	 the	 Election	 Commission	
started using the EVM. By 2004 the entire country had shifted to the EVM.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 5


Credit: Shankar
In this chapter…
The challenge of nation-building, covered in the last chapter, was 
accompanied by the challenge of instituting democratic politics. Thus, 
electoral competition among political parties began immediately after 
Independence. In this chapter, we look at the first decade of electoral 
politics in order to understand
•	 the 	 establishment	of	a	system 	of	free 	 and	fair	elections;	
•	 the 	 domination	of 	 the	Congress	party	in	 the	years 	immediately 		 	
	 after	Independence;	and	
•	 the 	 emergence 	 of 	opposition 	parties	and	 their 	policies.
This famous sketch 
by Shankar appeared 
on the cover of his 
collection – Don’t Spare 
Me, Shankar. The 
original sketch was 
drawn in the context of 
India’s China policy. But 
this cartoon captures 
the dual role of the 
Congress during the era 
of one-party dominance.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
2
chapter
era of one-party 
dominance
Challenge of building democracy
You now have an idea of the difficult circumstances in which 
independent India was born. You have read about the serious 
challenge of nation-building that confronted the country right in the 
beginning. Faced with such serious challenges, leaders in many other 
countries of the world decided that their country could not afford 
to have democracy. They said that national unity was their first 
priority and that democracy will introduce differences and conflicts. 
Therefore many of the countries that gained freedom from colonialism 
experienced non-democratic rule. It took various forms: nominal 
democracy but effective control by one leader, one party rule or direct 
army rule. Non-democratic regimes always started with a promise of 
restoring democracy very soon. But once they established themselves, 
it was very difficult to dislodge them.
The conditions in India were not very different. But the leaders of 
the newly independent India decided to take the more difficult path. 
Any other path would have been surprising, for our freedom struggle 
was deeply committed to the idea of democracy. Our leaders were 
conscious of the critical role of politics in any democracy. They did not 
see politics as a problem; they saw it as a way of solving the problems. 
Every society needs to decide how it will govern and regulate itself. 
There are always different policy alternatives to choose from. There 
are different groups with different and conflicting aspirations. How 
do we resolve these differences? Democratic politics is an answer to 
this question. While competition and power are the two most visible 
things about politics, the purpose of political activity is and should be 
deciding and pursuing public interest. This is the route our leaders 
decided to take.
Last year you studied how our Constitution was drafted. 
You would remember that the Constitution was adopted on  
26 November 1949 and signed on 24 January 1950 and it came into 
effect on 26 January 1950. At that time the country was being ruled 
by an interim government. It was now necessary to install the first 
democratically elected government of the country. The Constitution 
had laid down the rules, now the machine had to be put in place. 
Initially it was thought that this was only a matter of a few months. The 
Election Commission of India was set up in January 1950. Sukumar 
Sen became the first Chief Election Commissioner. The country’s first 
general elections were expected sometime in 1950 itself. 
What’s so special 
about our being a 
democracy? Sooner 
or later every country 
has become a 
democracy, isn’t it?
Credit: Shankar
                In India,…. 
…hero-worship, plays a part 
in its politics unequalled 
in magnitude by the part 
it plays in the politics of 
any other country….But in 
politics, .. ..hero-worship is a 
sure road to degradation and 
eventual dictatorship.
 
Babasaheb Dr. B.R. 
Ambedkar 
Speech in Constituent 
Assembly  
25 November 1949
“
“
2015-16(21/01/2015)
28                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
A cartoonist’s impression of the election committee formed by the Congress to choose party 
candidates in 1951. On the committee, besides Nehru: Morarji Desai, Rafi  Ahmed Kidwai,  
Dr B.C. Roy, Kamaraj Nadar, Rajagopalachari, Jagjivan Ram, Maulana Azad, D.P. Mishra,  
P.D. Tandon and Govind Ballabh Pant.
But the Election Commission discovered that it was not going to 
be easy to hold a free and fair election in a country of India’s size. 
Holding an election required delimitation or drawing the boundaries 
of the electoral constituencies. It also required preparing the electoral 
rolls, or the list of all the citizens eligible to vote. Both these tasks took 
a lot of time. When the first draft of the rolls was published, it was 
discovered that the names of nearly 40 lakh women were not recorded 
in the list. They were simply listed as “wife of …” or “daughter of …”. 
The Election Commission refused to accept these entries and ordered 
a revision if possible and deletion if necessary. Preparing for the first 
general election  was a mammoth exercise.  No election  on this scale 
had ever been conducted  in the world before. At that time there 
were 17 crore eligible voters, who had to elect about 3,200 MLAs and 
489 Members of Lok Sabha. Only 15 per cent of these eligible voters 
were literate. Therefore the Election Commission had to think of some 
special method of voting. The Election Commission trained over 3 
lakh officers and polling staff to conduct the elections. 
It was not just the size of the country and the electorate that made 
this election unusual. The first general election was also the first big 
test of democracy in  a poor and illiterate country. Till then democracy 
had existed only in the prosperous countries, mainly in Europe and 
North America, where nearly everyone was literate. By that time 
many countries in Europe had not given voting rights to all women. 
In this context India’s experiment with universal adult franchise 
That was a good 
decision. But what 
about men who still 
refer to a woman as 
Mrs. Somebody, as if 
she does not have a 
name of her own?
Credit: Shankar, 20 May 1951
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Era of One-party Dominance                                                                                29  
 Let’s re-search
Ask the elders in your family and neighbourhood about their 
experience of participating in elections.
•	 Did	anyone 	vote	in 	the	 first	or	second	general	election?	Who	 did 	 	
	 they 	 vote	for	and	why?
•	 Is	 there	 someone	who 	has	used	 all	the	three	methods 	of	voting?		
	 Which 	 one	 did	they	 prefer?	
•	 In	 which	ways	 do 	 they	find	 the	elections	 of 	those 	days	different		
	 from 	the 	present	ones?
Changing methods of voting 
 
These days we use an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to record voters’ 
preferences. But that is not how we started. In the first general election, it 
was decided to place inside each polling booth a box for each candidate with 
the election symbol of that candidate. Each voter was given a blank ballot 
paper which they had to drop into the box of the candidate they wanted to 
vote for. About 20 lakh steel boxes were used for this purpose. 
A presiding officer from Punjab described how he 
A sample of the 
ballot paper 
used from 
the third to 
the thirteenth 
general 
elections to Lok 
Sabha
prepared the ballot boxes—“Each box had to have 
its candidate’s symbol, both inside and outside it, and 
outside on either side, had to be displayed the name 
of the candidate in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi along with 
the number of the constituency, the polling station and 
the polling booth. The paper seal with the numerical 
description of the candidate, signed by the presiding 
officer, had to be inserted in the token frame and its 
window closed by its door which had to be fixed in its place 
at the other end by means of a wire. All this had to be 
done on the day previous to the one fixed for polling. To fix 
symbols and labels the boxes had first to be rubbed with 
sandpaper or a piece of brick. I found that it took about 
five hours for six persons, including my two daughters, to 
complete this work. All this was done at my house.”
Electronic Voting 
Machine
After the first two elections this method was changed. Now the ballot paper 
carried the names and symbols of all the candidates and the voter was required 
to put a stamp on the name of the candidate they wanted to vote for. This method 
worked 	 for	 nearly 	 forty	 years. 	 Towards	 the	 end	 of 	 1990s	 the	 Election	 Commission	
started using the EVM. By 2004 the entire country had shifted to the EVM.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
30                                                                   Politics in India since Independence
appeared very bold and risky. An Indian editor called it “the 
biggest gamble in history”.  Organiser, a magazine, wrote 
that Jawaharlal Nehru “would live to confess the failure 
of universal adult franchise in India”. A British member of 
the Indian Civil Service claimed that “a future and more 
enlightened age will view with astonishment the absurd farce 
of recording the votes of millions of illiterate people”. 
The elections had to be postponed twice and finally held 
from October 1951 to February 1952. But this election is 
referred to as the 1952 election since most parts of the 
country voted in January 1952. It took six months for 
the campaigning, polling and counting to be completed. 
Elections were competitive – there were on an average more 
than four candidates for each seat. The level of participation 
was encouraging — more than half the eligible voters turned 
out to vote on the day of elections. When the results were 
declared these were accepted as fair even by the losers. 
The Indian experiment had proved the critics wrong. The 
Times of India held that the polls have “confounded all those 
sceptics who thought the introduction of adult franchise 
too risky an experiment in this country”. The Hindustan 
Times claimed that “there is universal agreement that the 
Indian people have conducted themselves admirably in the 
largest experiment in democratic elections in the history of 
the world”. Observers outside India were equally impressed. 
India’s general election of 1952 became a landmark in the 
history of democracy all over the world. It was no longer 
possible to argue that democratic elections could not be held 
in conditions of poverty or lack of education. It proved that 
democracy could be practiced anywhere in the world. 
Maulana Abul Kalam 
Azad (1888-1958): 
original name — Abul 
Kalam Mohiyuddin 
Ahmed; 	scholar 	of	
Islam; 	freedom	fighter	
and	Congress 	 leader;	
proponent of Hindu-
Muslim	unity;	 opposed	
to	Partition; 	member	of	
Constituent	Assembly;	
Education Minister in 
the first cabinet of  free 
India.
Congress dominance in the first  three  
general elections
The results of the first general election did not surprise anyone. The 
Indian National Congress was expected to win this election. The 
Congress party, as it was popularly known, had inherited the legacy 
of the national movement. It was the only party then to have an 
organisation spread all over the country. And finally, in Jawaharlal 
Nehru, the party had the most popular and charismatic leader in 
Indian politics. He led the Congress campaign and toured through 
the country. When the final results were declared, the extent of the 
victory of the Congress did surprise many. The party won 364 of the 
489 seats in the first Lok Sabha and finished way ahead of any other 
challenger. The Communist Party of India that came next in terms of 
seats won only 16 seats. The state elections were held with the Lok 
2015-16(21/01/2015)
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