How India voted:
a retrospective from 1952 - 2024


Published: April 17, 2024 Updated: April 18, 2024

Come June 2024, voters will elect to power India's 18th Lok Sabha. The nation's “mammoth” electoral exercise — the largest election in human history — will give way to a verdict that has historically reflected people's desires and despairs. As the election season sets in, we look back, tracing independent India's political history through the lens of The Hindu's archives. As with a time capsule, this interactive article takes you through the spectacular and stormy ongoings of each Lok Sabha since 1952: the people, the politics and the policies that defined India through the years. The social and cultural undercurrents also reveal themselves; the people's mandate always revealed the pulse that thrummed through the nation, steady or otherwise.

This is the story of how India voted, from 1952 to 2019, and a glimpse into how The Hindu reported and documented these historical events in the pages of the newspaper. Read Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's speeches. Watch how India conducted its elections in the 1950s. Revisit the uncertainty of 2020, when Narendra Modi declared a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. Take a quiz about Indian leaders. And solve a jigsaw puzzle in the end. Read, listen, watch, play - engage with an independent India's political history through The Hindu's lens.

Before you dive into India’s past, here’s a glance at its future. Piece together this puzzle of politicians starring in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

1st Lok Sabha — 1952 - 1957

The partition, Congress's role in the freedom struggle, Jawaharlal Nehru's appeal and a growing need for stability — democratic and economic — informed the anatomy and ambition of the first Lok Sabha.

2nd Lok Sabha — 1957 - 1962

The ruling Congress consolidated its position in a post-independent India, benefiting from the absence of a strong Opposition and Jawaharlal Nehru's popularity and socialist vision.

3rd Lok Sabha — 1962 - 1967

Congress formed the government for the third time but was beset with early signs of internal dissent. Regional parties gained national popularity, India went to war with China and Pakistan, and the non-alignment stance guided India's foreign policy.

4th Lok Sabha — 1967 - 1970

India's first, and only, female Prime Minister Indira Gandhi comes to power, enacting policies to curb economic distress. Internal conflict threatens Congress's stability, giving way to the emergence of coalition governments.

5th Lok Sabha — 1971 - 1977

Indira Gandhi's 'Garibi Hatao' slogan and role in Bangladesh war strengthened her appeal among the masses, but concern grew over her authoritarian streak within the party. India saw one of the darkest periods of post-independent history with the declaration of Emergency and the suspension of civil liberties.

6th Lok Sabha — 1977 - 1980

In the aftermath of the Emergency, disillusioned voters ejected the Congress from power and elected the Janata Party, led by Morarji Desai. Internal conflict destabilised the new government too.

7th Lok Sabha — 1980 - 1984

Indira Gandhi returns to power after the Janata Party experiment failed at the Centre. New challenges sprung forth, including unemployment, labour unrest and increasing militancy in Punjab.

8th Lok Sabha — 1984 - 1989

Rajiv Gandhi fuels Congress's resurgence and N.T. Rama Rao redefines Andhra's politics. Communal disharmony, anti-Sikh riots and Bofors scam defined the social climate.

9th Lok Sabha — 1989 - 1991

This was the first time in history no party enjoyed a majority in the Lok Sabha. Janata Dal’s V. P. Singh briefly led the National Front coalition. The ‘Mandir and Mandal’ politics stirred unrest across a polarised nation.

10th Lok Sabha — 1991 - 1996

Narasimha Rao rewrote India's economic policy, marking the beginning of the liberalisation era. The Babri Masjid demolition and Mandal Commission report injected a note of violent polarisation.

11th Lok Sabha — 1996 - 1998

Caste-based and regional politics came to power, as disillusionment with the now-disgraced Congress government grew. Elsewhere, corruption scandals and coalition instability bogged down the United Front government led by Janata Dal leaders.

12th Lok Sabha — 1998 - 1999

The House sat for its shortest-ever duration, hindered by coalition instability. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's leadership pushed the Bharatiya Janata Party to national prominence.

13th Lok Sabha — 1999 - 2004

The Kargil War boosted Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's popularity. The 2001 Parliament breach, 2002 Gujarat riots and ideological fissures within the BJP later spelled trouble for the National Democratic Alliance.

14th Lok Sabha — 2004 - 2009

The Manmohan Singh-led government distinguished itself for a sustained economic growth, key legislation including the Right to Information Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the historic Indo-U.S. Civil Nuclear Deal.

15th Lok Sabha — 2009 - 2014

The Congress-led UPA retained power, passing key legislation including the Right to Education Act and reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh. The government crumbled under the weight of economic slowdown and corruption scandals.

16th Lok Sabha — 2014 - 2019

The BJP rides on the popularity of the 'Modi Wave', with the promise of 'acche din' challenging the stasis and corruption of the incumbent Congress.

17th Lok Sabha — 2019 - 2024

Narendra Modi-led BJP government consolidates power. National security, COVID-19 pandemic, farmers' unrest, communal clashes, CAA protests and abrogation of Article 370 form undercurrents of this divisive period.

Elections that shaped India

0 / 0