India, the world's largest democracy, holds a general election in April and May.Here is a timeline of key dates in India's election history:
- Shri 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.
- India held its first national elections under the Constitution in 1952, where a turnout of over 60% was recorded.
- Shri Jawaharlal Nehru leads Congress to a clear victory in the country's first ever general election and began a second term as Prime Minister.
- Prime Minister Nehru led the Congress to major election victories in 1957 and 1962
- Nehru leads Congress and retains the prime ministership, which he held until his death in 1964.
- From May 27, 1964 - January 24, 1966 Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda and Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri held the post of prime ministership for small periods.
- Nehru's daughter Mrs. Indira Gandhi leads Congress to another victory and becomes the country's only female prime minister.
- She wins another election victory in 1971 -- the year India trounced Pakistan in the third war between the two countries since 1947.
- Mrs. Indira Gandhi imposes a State of Emergency, which critics says gave her near dictatorial powers.
- Indira called for elections in 1977, only to suffer a humiliating electoral defeat at the hands of the Janata Party.
- Shri Morarji Desai, an ageing supporter of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophies, becames the first non-Congress Prime Minister.
- 28 July 1979 Morarji Desai Dismissed by President following a no-confidence motion.
- 28 July 1979, Shri Charan Singh formed an interim government. The Janata party had become intensely unpopular due to its internecine warfare, and the fact that it offered no leadership on solving India's serious economic and social problems.
- Mrs. Indira Gandhi re-elected again, 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.
- Shri 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.
- Power came to Rajiv Gandhi former finance and defence minister, Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh. Singh led the Janata Dal coalition to a majority.
- V.P. Singh resigned on 10 November 1990 because he started to implement the controversial Mandal commission report, to increase the quota in reservation for low caste Hindus and BJP protested these implementations, and took its support back.
- Shri Chandra Shekhar split to form the Janata Dal (Socialist) and came in power, supported by Rajiv's Congress. This new government also collapsed in a matter of months, when congress withdrew its support.
- In the 1991 elections, Congress (I) won 244 parliamentary seats and put together a coalition, returning to power under the leadership of Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, served a full 5-year term.
- The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without enough strength to prove a majority on the floor of that Parliament.
- Under Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee , the BJP coalition lasted in power 13 days.
- With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal emerged to form a government known as the United Front. A United Front government under Shri H. D. Deve Gowda lasted less than a year.
- On April 21, 1997 Shri Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister of a 16-party United Front coalition.
- In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support for the United Front. New elections in February 1998 brought the BJP the largest number of seats in Parliament (182).
- On March 20, 1998, the President inaugurated a BJP-led coalition government with Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister.
- 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 Dr. Manmohan Singh become prime minister, ending sniping about her nationality
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