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The elections that shaped India

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The elections that shaped India

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Each election, with its many victors and vanquished, offers us keen insights into the fabric of the nation, both as it was and as it has come to be
| Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

After a hard-won Independence, India soon faced another gargantuan challenge — ensuring free and fair elections in a populous democracy still reeling from the after-effects of colonial rule.

The very first elections took place in 1952, spearheaded by Sukumar Sen, the Chief of Election Commission, and resulting in a victory for the Indian National Congress. Subsequent years saw the rise and fall of successive Congress governments, coalitions between regional and national players and since 2014, the rise of Narendra Modi and the BJP. Each election, with its many victors and vanquished, offers us keen insights into the fabric of the nation, both as it was and as it has come to be.

Universal adult franchise has been a feature of Indian elections since the very beginning, with elections open to all citizens— women and minority groups received the right to vote in independent India at the same time as men. Till 1989, it was those above 21 who could vote; now, all citizens above the age of 18 have the right to exercise their franchise.

And so they will in 2024, in a multi-phase election slated to commence on April 19 and end on June 1. The counting of votes shall take place on June 4. The world’s largest democratic elections will see the participation of close to 970 million voters.

As we count down the days for the first phase of the General Elections 2024, The Hindu explores the historic elections that have crafted the state of politics, policy and government as we know it today.

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