521 out of 545 seats in the Lok Sabha
273 seats needed for majority
General elections were held in India in 1991 to elect the members of the 10th Lok Sabha. Voter turnout was the lowest ever in parliamentary elections. No party could muster a majority in the Lok Sabha, hence INC formed a minority government with the support of other parties, resulting in a stable government for the next 5 years under the new Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao.
The 1991 Indian general election were held as the previous Lok Sabha, with Chandra Sekhar at its helm had been dissolved just 16 months after government formation. The elections were held in a polarised environment and are also referred to as the 'Mandal-Mandir' elections after the two most important poll issues, the Mandal Commission fallout and the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.
While the Mandal Commission report implemented by the VP Singh government gave 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in government jobs, it led to widespread violence and protests across the country, with many students in and around Delhi even setting themselves on fire. Mandir represented the hallmark of this election, where there was a debate over the disputed Babri Masjid structure at Ayodhya, which the Bharatiya Janata Party was using as its major election manifesto.
The Mandir issue led to numerous riots in many parts of the country and the electorate was polarised on caste and religious lines. With the National Front falling apart, the Congress managed to make the most of the polarisation, by getting the most seats and forming a minority government.
Rajiv Gandhi Assassination
A day after the first round of polling took place on 20 May, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for Margatham Chandrasekar at Sriperembudur. The remaining election days were postponed until mid-June and voting finally took place on 12 and 15 June. Voting was the lowest ever in parliamentary elections with just 53 per cent of the electorate exercising their right to vote.
Since the assassination took place after first phase of polling in 211 of 534 constituencies and the balance constituencies went to polls after the assassination, the 1991 results varied greatly between phases. The congress party did poorly in the pre-assassination constituencies and swept the post-assassination constituencies. The end result was a Congress-led minority government led by P. V. Narasimha Rao, who had previously announced his retirement from politics.
Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab
76 to 126 people were shot dead during campaign on 17 June 1991 in two attacks by gunmen in Punjab, an area racked by separatist violence. Police reports said the killings, on separate trains, were carried out by Sikh militants. No elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, a total of 19 Lok Sabha seats. Elections were held in Punjab on 19 February 1992, where INC won 12 out of 13 seats, thereby taking their tally in the Lok Sabha up from 232 to 244.
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
- Former Home, and Foreign minister P. V. Narasimha Rao.
- Chief Minister of Maharashtra Sharad Pawar.
- Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Arjun Singh.
- Former Finance, and Foreign minister N. D. Tiwari.
Congress eventually formed the government under the Prime Ministership of P. V. Narasimha Rao. After Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rao was the second Congress Prime Minister from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family and the first Congress Prime Minister to head a minority government that completed full 5-year term. He introduced Economic reforms in India.
- Elections to Lok Sabha held in 1992 resulted in 12 more INC MPs being elected, thereby taking their tally to 244
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